This story replaced an earlier version at 11 p.m. with updated results.
Newcomers Ryan Cheeke and Sandi Hering defeated their opponents for seats on the Philomath School Board and Benton County’s latest attempt to build a new jail and expand public safety, mental health and homelessness services went down to defeat, according to unofficial cumulative results of Tuesday’s special election.
A late-night update showed Cheeke with 1,268 votes (53.93%) compared to Steven King’s 1,073 (45.64%) for the Philomath School Board Position 2 seat. The Position 5 race showed Hering with 1,293 votes (55.49%) and incumbent Karen Skinkis at 1,027 (44.08%). Both seats hold four-year terms.
School Board seats currently held by Joe Dealy, Erin Gudge and Rick Wells were not on the ballot for the current election cycle. Christopher McMorran is currently serving in Position 2 as appointed following Anton Grube’s resignation last year.
Measure 2-140, the Justice System Improvement Program bonds, was defeated by a 57-43 margin, the unofficial results showed. Voters saying no stood at 13,202 compared to 9,933 yes votes.
It’s the fourth time since 2000 that voters have rejected correctional facilities-related funding.
“While this news is disappointing, the county remains committed to addressing core issues of community safety, mental health and homelessness,” the Benton County Board of Commissioners said in a prepared statement. “In the coming days, Benton County leaders will work to assess and understand why the measure was not approved.
“The Board of Commissioners and county staff will begin conversations with community stakeholders to develop consensus-based approaches for reinvesting in our core facilities,” the statement continued.
The $110 million bond measure proposed construction of a sheriff’s office, emergency operations center and jail with up to 120 beds and dedicated areas to provide mental health and addiction services. Expanded capacity for mental health services and homelessness services were also part of the package.
If passed, the bond measure would have increased taxes by an estimated $142 per year for a Benton County home with an average tax-assessed value of $258,596.
According to the Benton County Elections Office, voter turnout was 38.77% with 23,316 ballots counted. There are 60,138 registered voters in the county.
Fire districts in the region, including Philomath, had board elections on the ballot, although none of them involved any contested races.
Philomath Fire & Rescue board members continuing to serve include Rick Brand (98.63%), Joe Brier (98.72%) and Daphne Phillips (98.89%).
Four were elected to the Blodgett-Summit Rural Fire board — Andrew Burton (98.89%), Britt Carlson (100%), Mark Scacco (97.89%) and Shannon Zuschlag (100%).
Two people ran for the Hoskins-Kings Valley Rural Fire board — Ted A. Baker (98.96%) and Evelyn Hukari (98.96%).
Benton County Elections plans to next update the unofficial results Friday.