Twelve hours after the first results came in, Tom Kress accepted victory in a close race for Douglas County commissioner.
The Roseburg businessman defeated 26-year-old Army National Guard veteran Alek Skarlatos and six other candidates Tuesday by a margin of 38 percent to 35.1 percent in unofficial final results from the Douglas County Elections Office released Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday night, both Kress and Skarlatos weren’t ready to call the race. Kress remained cautiously optimistic, while Skarlatos said he was in for a long night.
“I think the trend looks good,” Kress said Tuesday night. “It’s awfully early yet, but hopefully it’s not a long night.”
He said he’s “not one of those guys who’s very comfortable with a small lead” and he hoped to see it grow through the night.
It was a long night for Kress, however.
“I feel pretty good about it right now,” Kress said Wednesday morning on his way to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting, sounding like he hadn’t slept much.
He said his governing style will be similar to his attitude as votes came in last night. “Let’s call it thoughtful,” Kress said.
“I want to thank all the supporters and all the people who voted, whether they voted for me or not,” he said. “That they got out and voted is a big deal. We had a pretty good turnout.”
Kress said he believes he won support because of his solid life and business experience. He said the first thing he wants to do as a commissioner is to “bring together this community a little bit more.”
“I think we’re divided a bit, and we don’t have to be like the national people,” he said.
He said he’s always felt an ability to bring people together was one of his strong points.
Commissioner Chris Boice, who endorsed Kress, said he’s excited for him.
“I’m excited for Douglas County. It’s going to help us get some more work done,” Boice said.
Skarlatos said Tuesday night Kress’s 2-percent lead made the race still incredibly close.
“We have a lot of great people and I think we’re going to have a better response from the exterior of the county, so I’m still very optimistic, and it looks like we’re in for a long night,” Skarlatos said.
He said he wasn’t surprised by Kress’s lead.
“He’s outspending us by 2 to 1 and took his campaign really negative,” he said.
Skarlatos and Kress were the top two fundraisers throughout the campaign.
Kress, the owner of Waldron’s Outdoor Sports in Roseburg, had strong business support, including from the timber industry. He collected close to $150,000 in campaign contributions.
Skarlatos collected just over half that, around $85,000, largely from individual donors. His claim to fame is the part he played helping thwart a terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015. He went on to receive multiple medals and star in a Clint Eastwood movie about the event, called “The 15:17 to Paris.”
Coming in third in the race was Jeremy Salter, who garnered 7 percent of the vote. Salter is the husband of the Democratic candidate for House District 2, Megan Salter. Ashley Hicks won 4.7 percent, Alyssa McConnel won 5.7 percent, Richard Vander Velden 1.5 percent, and James Hoyt 2.6 percent. Daniel Loomis won 5.2 percent, despite having dropped out of the race and thrown his support to Kress.
By an overwhelming 73.8 percent to 26.2 percent, voters Tuesday approved a Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance.
The SAPO ordinance, listed as Measure 10-165 on the ballot, guarantees that no county funds will be used to enforce gun laws that are believed to violate the Second Amendment, including registration rules and limitations on semi-automatic weapons and ammunition.
The ordinance gives the Douglas County sheriff the right to determine what laws pass muster under the Second Amendment, and creates civil fines for violating the ordinance.
Proponents of the ordinance said it would help protect rural voters from efforts by Salem legislators to curtail their rights. Opponents said it could embroil the county in lawsuits and ultimately be found unconstitutional since the Supreme Court, not the sheriff, has the authority to determine what laws are constitutional under the Second Amendment.
The measure was one of 10 similar measures on the ballot Tuesday across the state. Four Oregon counties already have similar ordinances.
Voters in Roseburg have decided who will make up their new city council.
Incumbent City Councilor Tom Ryan defeated Marty Katz 67 to 31.9 percent to retake his seat in Ward 2, according to unofficial final results released Wednesday morning.
Ryan is a former police officer, and this will be his 18th year serving on the council. He has served as city council president for 11 years.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Ryan said about his victory.
It was the first time Ryan has faced an election challenger in his tenure on the council. He said he had some nerves thinking about how the election might turn out.
“I’m darn happy the way they voted, and I will do the best I can to represent my ward and the city,” Ryan said.
At the top of his list on the council will be securing more affordable housing in Roseburg. A few weeks ago, Ryan said the city is in a housing crisis, and that the main barrier to economic growth was housing a surplus workforce.
He also wants to work toward addressing the underlying causes of homelessness such as mental illness.
Beverly Cole was elected city councilor in Ward 4, defeating Ruth Smith and Kristi Rifenbark in a close race, according to unofficial final results released Wednesday morning.
She received 35.8 percent of the vote to Smith’s 28.7 percent and Rifenbark’s 34.3 percent. Just 22 votes separated Cole from Rifenbark.
Cole, who is now retired, worked as a parole officer for 46 years with the county and state. She has no prior government experience but has lived in Roseburg since 1961.
“I had some stiff competition,” Cole said.
She said she looks forward to working with the other members of the council.
“They’ve been very helpful. I had a lot of support, so that was really nice,” Cole said.
She will continue to attend city council meetings in the weeks leading up to the new year, when she will assume her role. She said she will be interested to see if the council makes any progress on bringing rideshare services to town in the weeks to come.
Cole said she wants to use her position on the council to foster a more passionate sense of pride in the community. She said the main way to do that is to bring more community events to the city.
Cole also wants to bring more fiscal responsibility to town. She thinks the council has spent money unwisely in the recent past and will work to prevent needless spending in the future.
With more fiscal responsibility and a greater sense of pride in town, Cole thinks the council will be able to focus on bringing more economic opportunities and development to the city.
Incumbent Larry Rich will resume his position as mayor of Roseburg after running uncontested. Councilor Alison Eggers ran uncontested and will maintain her Ward 1 seat. In Ward 3, Bob Cotterell was elected city councilor after running uncontested.