Initial election results: Blackburn wins HR mayor race

Hood River mayoral candidates in the 2014 general election: Greg Colt, left, and Paul Blackburn, right.

Mayoral candidates Greg Colt and Paul Blackburn face off tonight, Oct. 22, in a debate at Dog River Coffee, a follow-up to an exchange between the two men at last Thursday’s Hood River Rotary joint appearance.

The mayor and council races are part of the Nov. 4 General Election. Ballots were mailed Friday; call Elections at 541-386-1442 if you have not received your ballot.

Blackburn and Colt will debate at 7 p.m. at Dog River, following a candidates’ reception, starting at 5:30 p.m. for the mayor and council candidates. Running for council are: Dave Bick, Becky Brun, Peter Cornelison, Tim Counihan, Susan Johnson, Bob Palmer and Joe Sheahan. (See for mayor and council candidate questionnaires.)

“I want to thank Dog River for hosting. This is a great opportunity for everyone to hear about their choices for mayor,” Blackburn said.

“I think it’s a great opportunity. I’m looking forward to it,” Colt said. “I just hope people show, and that there’s a big audience. Whatever the outcome, I know that everybody involved loves Hood River and wants to do the right thing.”

Both candidates displayed a sense of humor when asked, “How close do you think the outcome will be?”

Colt: “Everybody who talks to me says I’m going to win – but they’re all my friends.”

Blackburn: “CNN and USA Today polls show it’s neck and neck; I’m thrilled. I have, of course, no idea.”

Tonight’s debate format will give the mayor hopefuls five-minute opening statements, followed by six questions in which the candidates will have three minutes each to answer and one minute each to rebut. They will also have three minutes each for a closing statement. The debate will be the first mayoral face-off since the 2008 race between Arthur Babitz, then a city council member, and Bob Palmer. Babitz won the race and served as mayor for three two-year terms. He decided not to run in 2014.

The debate organizing committee of Nate DeVol, Maui Meyer and moderator Laurie Stephens has developed a slate of questions pertaining to infrastructure, the budget, intergovernmental relations, zoning laws, and housing.

The event is one of two evening election gatherings this week in Hood River. On Thursday, Gorge Ecumenical Ministries (GEM), an interfaith organization comprised of area faith communities and churches, invites community members to attend a candidate forum at 6:30 p.m.

The event will take place at Riverside Community Church (Fourth & State streets in Hood River) and will feature candidates for Hood River Mayor, State Senator and State Representative. Spanish language interpretation will be provided.

Also on the ballot are State Representative and State House positions in which the Republican incumbents, both of Hood River, seek third terms. Rep. Mark Johnson is challenged by Democrat Stephanie Nystrom of Corbett and Sen. Chuck Thomsen faces Robert Bruce of Sandy.

West Side Fire District voters and Cascade Locks city voters will also determine tax measures aimed at supporting firefighter and EMT services; West Side proposes a Local Option Levy of 50 cents on the thousand, while Cascade Locks proposes a fee that will be added to municipal electrical bills, ranging from $6-9 per month.

Also on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., West Side Fire District board hosts an information night on the proposed Local Option Levy. The event will be at the Rockford Station, on Barrett Drive.

Meanwhile, meet-and-greet opportunities with the Hood River city candidates continue. Known as “Office Hours,” they take place mornings at Dog River Coffee, 411 Oak St., and the evenings at Celilo Restaurant, 16 Oak St. Here are the remaining sessions:

Oct. 21: Dog River and Celilo – Becky Brun; Oct. 22: Dog River – Dave Bick; Oct. 27: Dog River – Peter Cornelison, Celilo – Tim Counihan; Oct. 28: Celilo – Greg Colt; Oct. 29: Celilo – Dave Bick


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