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Public reacts to special district election results, Bend Fire levy’s narrow approval amid varied ballot returns

Deschutes and Crook County clerks attest to good voter turnout

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --Tuesday's special district election, often one that draws relatively little voter attention, brought in a higher turnout than anticipated for Deschutes and Crook counties. 

(You can see all the latest local election results and those around the state on our page here.)

With a few days left for postmarked ballots to arrive, Deschutes County stood Wednesday at 29.7% voter turnout while Crook County, thanks to contested school and park board races, saw a 38.5% voter turnout. Jefferson county, with a shorter ballot, was at 18.7%.

According to Deschutes County Clerk Steve Dennison, voters returned more than 20,000 ballots in the last two days before the 8 p.m. deadline.

"Over the last few elections, voters seemed to have been voting a little bit later anyway," he said. "So I wasn’t entirely surprised, and we were prepared -- and that’s why we were able to handle that load of (late) 12,000 ballots anyway."

"Two years ago, we had 31% turnout, which is right around where we are right now," Dennison said. "Four years ago however, we didn’t even reach 25% turnout."

Crook County Clerk Cheryl Seely said, “Voter turnout was great this election. It was more than double our last district election, which was somewhere a little over 15 (percent)."

Firefighters in Bend and La Pine and many supporters were on pins and needles, watching to see if their fire levies would pass in the 2023 Special District Election. Both fire levies did pass last night, but their margins were much different.

The La Pine levy passed at 66% approval, while the Bend levy passed by just a few percent at 52-48%.

I spoke with a couple local voters Wednesday for their reaction to the Bend Fire & Rescue five-year operating levy's approval.

“I voted in support of it," Bend reisdent Max Handler said.

The levy will allow Bend Fire & Rescue to fund more firefighters and paramedics and help provide emergency medical services to the community.

"Obviously Bend’s been growing pretty rapidly, and so any additional resources to support reactions to fires and emergency services seems like a positive things," Handler said. "Most of the arguments against in the Voter’s Pamphlet sounded almost conspiratorial."

Another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, expressed dissent for the fire levy.

"I totally agree with everything that they want, and I think it needs to be funded, but it shouldn’t be a special levy. It does give the city extra funds, that we as the people have no control over what they spend that money on."

The operating levy is at 76 cents per $1,000 of taxable assessed value, or a 56 cent increase from the current levy. The existing levy of 20 cents per $1,000 of taxable assessed value is set to expire on June 30 of next year.

The Deschutes County Clerk says any ballots received in the mail that are postmarked on or before Tuesday will be counted.

Article Topic Follows: Election

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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