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May special District Election filing deadline approaches; some board seats vacant, others unopposed

(Update: Adding video, comments from Clerk Steve Dennison, Redmond School District)

Several money measures to share ballot; Terrebonne sewer district votes to be tallied Tuesday night

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- With the candidate filing deadline for the May 16 Special District Election just two days away, Deschutes County Clerk Steve Dennison is urging community involvement by anyone interested in serving.

The special district election is called an off-year election by many, but the people who make key policy decisions for dozens of school, park, fire, water and sewer districts across the High Desert are on the ballot. And as is so often the case, many incumbents are running unopposed -- and many other seats stand vacant.

But the May ballot will have a bigger draw for some, as there are several money measures on it, including fire levies in the Bend area and La Pine and for the Sisters Park and Recreation District.

All 21 districts are posted to the Deschutes County candidates page, showing positions on the ballot and the candidates who have filed so far. 

 “These positions have been opened and posted on our website for a couple of months now and the candidates have until this Thursday at 5pm, March 16th, to file and qualify and have their names on a ballot," Dennison said Tuesday.

Dennison reminded the community that filling these seats is imperative.

“These boards that do make a difference in our day-to-day lives, voters don’t always participate in," Dennison said.

"Voters don’t typically turn out well for these elections, which is also sad," the county clerk added. "We’ll probably have, if we’re lucky, a 35 percent voter turnout. That’s kind of typical for this type of election.”

The Redmond School Board does have all candidate listings filled, but that hasn't always been the case.

“So the election is through the ballot process, which is what’s happening right now," Redmond School District Public Information Officer Holly Brown said. "If someone is not elected through the ballot process, then they can be appointed by the school board."

If there aren’t any election candidates for a seat on a board, the current board would seek applications from those willing to serve until the positions are filled.

The candidate filing deadline for the May 16 election is 5 p.m. on Thursday. However, many positions such as the Oregon Water Wonderland Unit II Sanitary District and the Chaparral Water Control District still don't have anyone in for the running, as evident on the Deschutes County candidates page. It's a similar situation for some seats in Crook County and Jefferson County.

Some of the open seats include positions on boards overseeing Central Oregon Community College, the La Pine Park and Recreation District, the Alfalfa Fire District and numerous sanitary (sewer) districts.

To file for a position, a person must be an elector of that district or zone. District-specific qualifications are also available online. The filing of candidacy is by declaration ($10 fee) or by petition (obtaining 25 valid signatures or 10% of voters residing within your district or zone, whichever is less). Click here if you're interested in filing for a vacant position.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Bola Gbadebo

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


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