The Hood River County School District Local Option Levy renewal passed by a wide margin in the May 15 Primary Election, with 4,120 yes votes and 1,449 no — a 74 to 26 percent split.
Mike Oates defeated Rich McBride in the race for chairman of the Hood River County Board of Commissioners, by a 67 to 33 percent margin, 3,470 to 1,673.
“I appreciate the support of the people of Hood River. I was pretty humbled by the results, and I will do my best,” said Oates, an Odell orchardist, who will succeed Ron Rivers, who chose not to run again.
Oates said the county budget shortfall will be his main concern once he takes office in January 2019.
“The work really began three or four months ago. I will be attending meetings and following the situation pretty closely,” Oates said.
McBride, who will retain his current seat on the Board of Commissioners, was unavailable for comment. Oates said he and McBride have exchanged emails since the election.
“I look forward to meeting with him and talking over a few things. We talked about ourselves in the campaign,” Oates said. “I have a lot of respect for Rich. He works hard and represents the city well.”
Superintendent Dan Goldman said in a Wednesday message to district staff that the Local Option Levy passage means that for the next five years, the budget committee has the opportunity to levy additional resources to support schools.
Here are other vote highlights from Tuesday, which saw a 42 percent voter turnout.
Oregon House Dist. 52
Anna Williams received 2,112 votes for the Democratic nomination to the Oregon House District 52 seat. Aurora del Val, who had dropped out of the race in April but whose name appeared on the ballot, received 440 votes.
U.S. House Dist. 2
District-wide, Jamie McLeod-Skinner earned the nomination to run in November against Republican incumbent Greg Walden, and her Hood River County total followed the district trend. McLeod-Skinner received 835 county votes, 32 percent, compared to 610 for Jenni Neahring (24 percent) and 375, 233 and 204 for Michael Byrne, James Crary and Eric Burnette, respectively.
Walden received 1,235 of the 1,587 votes in the Republican race.
Oates, a lifelong Odell resident and former Hood River County School District Board, said it was name familiarity that helped him most.
“It’s that longevity. I’ve been here a long time and people know who I am.
“Sometimes when I’m in Hood River I get the feeling I don’t know many people, but when I went around I realized I really do know a lot of people.” Oates credited his campaign team including his daughter, Corinne Dichter, Joella Dethman, and Jean Sheppard.
“I am very humbled,” Oates said. “This has been quite a process. I enjoyed meeting people and talking to them,” he said. “I never thought I would see myself knocking on doors, but I did a lot of it,” in Hood River and in Cascade Locks, he said, “but less up in the valley because I felt I was pretty well known.”
Oates got his start in public service in the late 1970s, when he was appointed to the Hood River County Planning Commission. In the 1990s, he was appointed to and served several years on the school district budget committee and was then elected to the School Board for a total of eight years, and then appointed to the School District Financial Advisory committee for an additional two years.
Oates currently serves on the Hood River Education Foundation Board and has served on several industry boards including the Hood River Grower Shipper Association, the Research Committee, and Chair of the Ag Water Quality Local Advisory Committee.
His most recent county-wide position was on the initial board for re-opening of the Hood River County Library, in 2010.
In his message to district staff, Goldman said, “As a result (of levy passage), the budget we are preparing for next year maintains our current programs and adds a number of teachers and support staff positions at all levels of the school system. In turn, this will lower class sizes in targeted areas, increase our mental health service personnel, expand out career-technical and college readiness programs, increase our ability to provide middle school athletics, and provides resources for field trips and other enriching co-curricular experiences.”
Also in his message to staff, Goldman said, “In a time of unrest and division, it’s clear that all corners of our community believes so strongly in the work you do in service to children. Seventy-four percent of the vote is humbling and a wonderful reflection of our community’s faith in you.” Goldman credited the levy campaign team of Liz Whitmore, Chrissy Reitz, Rich Truax, Deedee Hennessy and Corinda Hankins-Elliott.