By Dora Totoian • Of The News-Register • 

Chenoweth wins council seat over McCracken in Ward 1

Chris Chenoweth
Chris Chenoweth
Lisa McCracken
Lisa McCracken

[Updated Wednesday 2:40 a.m.]

An open seat for Ward 1 on the McMinnville City Council will go to Chris Chenoweth, who has 2,300 votes, or 57.33%, in unofficial results, in his race against U.S. Navy veteran and former assistant veterans’ service officer Lisa McCracken, who tallied 1,694 votes, or 42.22%.

Current councilor Wendy Stassens declined to seek re-election. This race was Chenoweth’s second bid for the council, after losing to Sal Peralta in 2018.

Councilors are elected to four-year, non-partisan, unpaid terms. Councilors approve the annual budget, establish long-term and short-term city goals, pass ordinances and resolutions and more.

Chenoweth, 50, owner of computer sales and service company Acupro Oregon, campaigned on a platform of limiting city fees and taxes, incentivizing larger businesses to move to McMinnville, supporting the police department and expanding the city’s urban growth boundary.

"I appreciate the confidence that the voters have expressed by voting for me. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to taking my seat in January, and seeing what I can do to help the city of McMinnville.," Chenoweth said Tuesday night. "I appreciate Lisa McCracken’s run and the effort she put out and I hope she will stay engaged. We need all the voices we can have in the process."

He frequently pointed to his McMinnville roots, his “love for Mac” and his desire to preserve the feel of McMinnville as key reasons motivating his candidacy.

"I think it’s very important moving forward that we come together as a community," Chenoweth said. "Voters have spoken, and now we need to move forward and remember that we’re all neighbors and fellow citizens in what really is a fairly small town. We can’t have the vitriol continue."

McCracken, 50, moved to McMinnville in 2014 following service in the Navy and a career in veterans’ services, including at Yamhill County Health and Human Services. She focused on sustainable growth and McMinnville’s post-COVID-19 future in her candidacy.

She saw the council as an opportunity to apply the skills she’d gained from the Navy and her other careers as McMinnville will change as more people likely move here in the coming years, she said.

Chenoweth received endorsements and contributions from the McMinnville Professional Firefighters’ union Local 3099, Oregonians for Affordable Housing, the pro-business PAC Yamhill First that has supported more conservative candidates in this election and the candidate committee of state Sen. Brian Boquist, along with donations from individuals. Chenoweth received $4,718.4 in cash and in-kind contributions.

McCracken filed a certificate of limited expenditures and contributions with the Secretary of State and said she received $2,295 in cash and in-kind contributions, and loaned about $1,000 to her campaign personally.

Campaign finance complaints were filed to the state against McCracken and Chenoweth. James Goings, a local booster of conservative Yamhill County politics, filed a complaint alleging McCracken had exceeded the $3,500 threshold for a certificate of limited contributions and expenditures.

McCracken said the complaints are invalid and provided the News-Register with documentation showing her contributions and expenditures were below $3,500.

Sam Bear, McCracken’s husband and campaign treasurer, filed a complaint alleging that Chenoweth minimized the amount of money Oregonians for Affordable Housing had given to his campaign and that he was late in recording an in-kind contribution. Chenoweth said the PAC gave him $500 but accidentally listed it as $2,500 on its committee filing, and he may have entered some filings late.



Congratulations Chris!


But has McCracken learned the hard lesson of "Mac Politics" in that if you want to be elected you need to have exposure? Chenoweth was often in the paper; whereas McCracken seemed to fall between the cracks, and only in the final hours did we hear from her husband about some alleged claims of misfilings on the part of Chenoweth and not from the candidate herself. No one can hide behind their spouse and expect to be taken seriously in Mac politics.

However, I still hold the view that McCracken's years of experience in the Navy, etc. would be of a great benefit to Mac and hopefully next time around she will once again make a run and this time be heard and seen... and her husband will remain hidden in the shadows like a good spouse should be, unless of course if in this particular case he too is running for some public office.

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