By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Candidate breaks new ground

With the March 11 filing deadline fast approaching, political and public policy activist Sal Peralta of McMinnville completed Thursday a signature-gathering effort designed to earn him a spot May’s ballot.

Peralta is running for the seat being vacated by Yamhill County Commissioner Kathy George, who is term-limiting out. And the clerk’s office confirmed he had met the test.

He set out last fall to gather the required threshold of signatures — 370 — in lieu of paying the normal $50 filing fee. And he was joined in that by fellow candidate Stan Primozich, one of five vying for the seat held by George.

It appears Peralta has become the first commissioner candidate in at least 30 years to qualify by petition. Going back that far, officials could find no record of any other.

And with Primozich on the same track, history seems destined to soon be repeated. An investment adviser, one-time mayoral candidate and longtime school board member, he had already submitted 248 signatures for clerk’s office validation as of Feb.  19.

Peralta, who holds sales posts with the News-Register and its Digital Media Publishing offshoot, said the experience of going door to door to garner support was gratifying. It made the extra effort pay off, he said.

“I think it’s really important to get out and talk to people if you’re going to serve in public office,” he said. And he said he found most people welcoming.

He said he had personally knocked on roughly 1,000 doors so far, and supporters had hit hundreds more. “I am grateful that so many folks took the time to share their concerns about government and to listen to what I have to say,” he said.

He estimated spending more than 80 hours going door to door.

Joining Peralta and Primozich in the field are West Valley businessman Bill Willis and two East County real estate brokers — David Russ, who serves on the Dundee City Council, and Bill Veatch, a former Newberg city councilor. They followed the normal process in paying the filing fee.

Mary Stern is term-limiting out of another commission seat, marking the first time in decades, if not ever, that two open seats have come up in the same year.

Her seat has drawn two candidates so far, Mary Starrett, a media consultant and former broadcaster, and Debra Bridges, victims services director in the district attorney’s office. Both also paid the filing fee.

Any candidate collecting a majority of the votes cast for either seat in the May primary will be declared elected. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will stage a run-off in November.

Stern is planning to leave office shortly after the May primary, so her colleagues will have to appoint someone to complete the remaining months of her term. She said she hopes there will be at least one clear winner in the primary, and that person can simply be seated early.

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