Elkton, which was virtually split down the middle in the 2016 presidential election, was again closely divided in this year’s elections.
Douglas County Clerk Patricia Hitt last week released precinct-by-precinct results showing how different Douglas County communities voted this November, and it’s clear from these results that Elkton is the outlier.
While Douglas County as a whole is deep, deep red, often favoring Republican candidates by 2-to-1 margins, residents of the 10th Precinct, covering Elkton, were closely split between Republican and Democratic candidates in some races, and voted for Democrats in others. It’s perhaps not surprising that Elkton is so closely divided. After all, in the 2016 presidential race, Elkton’s vote was just about as tight as it gets: Donald Trump received 42 votes, Hillary Clinton 41.
This year, Republican state Rep. Cedric Hayden received 47 votes in Elkton, two more votes than Democratic challenger for the House District 7 seat, Christy Inskip, and went on to win the race.
In the governor’s race, Republican challenger Knute Buehler received 45 Elkton votes, just four more than Democratic Gov. Kate Brown. Brown, unpopular in this county, defeated Buehler with support from voters to the north.
Elkton residents couldn’t even agree on the nonpartisan county commissioner race. While the man who won the commissioner seat, Roseburg businessman Tom Kress, was in a tight race across the county with veteran and hometown hero Alek Skarlatos, it was in Elkton that their race was closest. Kress received 27 Elkton votes, just three more than Skarlatos’ 24. The six other commissioner candidates on the ballot each received single-digit support in Elkton.
This year, the Elkton precinct was the only one in the county to vote for a Democratic state legislator, incumbent state Sen. Floyd Prozanski of Eugene, and one of just two that supported Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio.
Forty-eight Elkton voters chose Prozanski, while 39 voted for Republican challenger Scott Rohter. Prozanski’s 4th District extends down from Lane County to cover North Douglas County. He was re-elected.
The 22nd Precinct, covering Southeast Roseburg, was the only other Douglas County precinct joining Elkton to vote for DeFazio over Republican challenger Art Robinson. Elkton voted 54 to 38 for DeFazio, while Southeast Roseburg voted 1203 to 998 for DeFazio. DeFazio won re-election.
For Elkton voter Bill Hubbard, the even split between Democrats and Republicans is right there at home.
“I don’t know how any of my neighbors voted, but I’m a Democrat, so I went that way, and my wife is not, so she went her way,” he said.
Hubbard believes Republicans are more interested in helping out the rich than helping regular folks.
“When the Republican’s in there, I seem to lose money all the time,” he said.
But Hubbard said he doesn’t talk politics with other town residents. Neither does Nancy Wallace, an Elkton Republican who moved from Santa Rosa a year ago.
Wallace grew up in Southern California, where her father E. Elgie Calvin made an unsuccessful run as a Republican for California’s 23rd Congressional seat in 1956. Wallace said she doesn’t always vote along party lines, though she’s been a registered Republican her entire voting life.
“I try to think of the individual. It really isn’t the party,” she said.
Wallace said the whole political scene isn’t her thing anymore. She always votes, but you won’t find any campaign signs in her yard.
“I’m old, and I’m disenchanted with the whole bunch of them,” she said.
There was one race even closer than any in Elkton this year. The 1st Precinct, covering rural Northwest County around Reedsport, had one tie vote in the state House District 9 race, with 405 each voting for Republican Teri Grier and Democratic incumbent Caddy McKeown. Grier won Reedsport’s 3rd Precinct, but lost the race due to McKeown’s support in Coos County.
Voters in most Douglas County precincts were the polar opposite of the state as a whole. They gave Brown a thumbs down for governor by wide margin. Buehler’s strongest support came from rural precincts covering areas outside any city’s limits, with some giving him as much as 72 to 73 percent of the vote. Next to Elkton, the closest numbers in the gubernatorial race were in Southeast Roseburg’s 22nd Precinct, where the vote was 52 percent for Buehler to 36 percent for Brown.
In Central and South County, the state Senate District 1 race between Winston Republican Dallas Heard and Coos Bay Democratic challenger Shannon Souza wasn’t close. Every Douglas County precinct in District 1 went for Heard. Most approved Heard by wide margins, with rural precincts giving him percentages in the 70s. His widest margin was in the southernmost precinct, the rural 21st Precinct, which voted 74 to 26 percent for Heard. Heard’s narrowest win was in Southeast Roseburg, which gave Souza 48 percent of its vote to Heard’s 52 percent.
Roseburg Republican Rep. Gary Leif had similar results in his House District 2 race against Roseburg Democratic challenger Megan Salter. Salter did not win any precinct. The widest gulf was in that southern 21st Precinct, which voted 74 to 25 percent for Leif. The narrowest was in Southeast Roseburg, which gave Salter 47 percent of its vote to Leif’s 53 percent.
The precinct-level results also reveal that while Kress won the commissioner race overall, and 17 precincts, 11 precincts went for Skarlatos. Among Kress’s precincts were all four Roseburg city precincts, Elkton, Oakland and East Winston, along with 10 rural precincts. Skarlatos won in Reedsport, Drain, Yoncalla, Sutherlin, West Winston, Canyonville, Myrtle Creek, Glendale and Riddle, along with two rural precincts.
None of the other six commissioner candidates won any precinct. Jeremy Salter and Alyssa McConnel both had their largest vote totals in Southeast Roseburg. James Hoyt and Ashley Hicks both had their largest vote totals in rural North County’s precinct 4, while Richard Vander Velden’s best vote total was in his home town of Sutherlin.
Four-year-old David runs around the yellow ropes, trying to stand as tall as he can to see the trains rushing through towns, hills and bridges. Then he grabs a hand and drags his family members to a different table with different trains and scenery.
His great aunt, Billie Mabbutt, said David is obsessed with trains, so she knew she had to bring him when she found out about the Model Train Show at the Drain Civic Center on Saturday.
The train show will be open until 4 p.m. on Sunday, and for grade school students on Monday morning.
“When he gets up in the morning, he wants to turn the TV on and see the trains all day long,” Mabbutt said. “He can tell you all the names of the Thomas trains.”
The train show is hosted by the Willamette Cascade Model Railroad Club, which is based in the Eugene Springfield area. The club vice president, Roger Fegles, wears a name tag that says “Old What’s His Name” and monitors his Lionel trains while he, and the models, are “going around in circles.”
“I’m in my second childhood,” Fegles said. “We like to do train shows to get the hobby out in front of people, to get people interested in model railroad.”
Fegles liked model trains as a kid but chose kerosene lamp collecting as his hobby when he retired, until it got to be too expensive. He sold off or stored the lamps, then went back to model trains.
“The thing about kerosene lamps is you don’t have a lot of communication with other people,” Fegles said. “With this, we have a meeting every month and we get to meet different people in the hobby. There’s just a lot more communicating with other modelers. It’s nice to know in this life you aren’t a lone wolf.”
Besides trains running in constant circles and club members making small corrections to the tracks, there is a temporary wall covered in historic photos and a booth for Operation Lifesaver, which Fegles is an authorized volunteer.
“Trying to teach track safety, because there are so many people getting killed on the railroad,” Fegles said. “We have this display from Operation Lifesaver to try to help teach people about crossing safely.”
In the middle of the room is an HO scale set of trains, two running parallel and a few others on side rails in the back, with club members Noah Russell and Jim Saville in the center of the circle. They check on the stability of the track, answer questions, tell stories and manage a large set of electrical equipment.
Saville said his parents didn’t have much money when they got married in the 1930s, but his dad traded for a train set and stored it under the bed.
“They would pull it out, and that was their entertainment,” Saville said. “It’s the greatest hobby in the world. It’s a combination of electrical work, building scenery, and you just learn a lot about precision.”
Russell fell in love with model trains when his dad bought him his first set at just four years old. Fourteen years later, he is going to club meetings once a month and wants to be a train engineer one day.
“It’s like having your own little world you’re in control of,” Russell said. “It’s hands-on and you get to make it just how you want. My dad grew up in Cottage Grove and he was there when the steam locomotives would run and he tells me all these stories. He got me hooked. I want to focus on stepping back into the 1970s and you can do that with model trains. That’s the best part about it.”
The Saturday crowd ranged from small children to seniors who remembered when model trains were in every household. Tricia Powell from Roseburg came out with her two children and her dad, and remembered the model trains they had in the house when she was young.
“We love trains,” Powell said. “We grew up with HO train sets. We were already in Drain and Dad told us about this. It’s a good turnout and a nice space.”