In the end, it didn’t take a recount to decide the winner of the race for the position 2 director on the Central Oregon Coast Fire & Rescue Board of Commissioners in the May 18 special district election.
After all mail-in ballots were counted, ballots without signatures were rectified and ballot signature disputes were resolved during the mandated 14-day period following the election, the office of Lincoln County Clerk Dana Jenkins reported updated election results shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1.
Initial results of the Central Coast board race posted the evening of election day, had challenger Todd Holt leading incumbent board member Peter Carlich by the slimmest of margins, 395-393. If that difference remained two votes or fewer after the final ballot count earlier this week, it would have triggered an automatic recount. However, final results showed Holt with 401 votes and Carlich with 396. That eliminated the necessity of a recount of ballots.
Additionally, Jenkins’ office reported final voter-turnout numbers Tuesday evening, which revealed that registered Lincoln County voters returned a total of 11,541 ballots for the special election, for a 30.18 percent turnout.
With Holt’s election to the fire board now official, it means new members will make up 60 percent of the board when it convenes in July. Other new board directors are Katheryn Menefee, who defeated fellow challenger and Waldport City Councilor Greg Dunn and incumbent Dave Brooks; and Buster Pankey, who ran uncontested to succeed long-serving board president Tim Grady.
The trio of new board members will join sitting members Kevin Battles and board secretary Reda Eckerman on the administrative end at Central Oregon Coast Fire & Rescue, which recently came under scrutiny for the handling of the dismissal of former Fire Chief Gary Woodson earlier this year.
The current board allegedly ignored multiple complaints filed by COCFR staff and volunteers regarding Woodson’s behavior during his tenure with the department until the board received a complaint regarding Woodson reportedly sending inappropriate messages to COCFR staff members. Additionally, the district and Woodson are being sued for discrimination by Nestor Alves, Menefee’s husband, who alleges he was fired as a captain in his department due to his ethic heritage.
Last month during its regular board meeting, Central Coast made official the promotion of former assistant Jamie Mason to the position of fire chief.