By Dora Totoian • Of The News-Register • 

Menke retains Ward 2 seat on Mac city council

Kellie Menke
Kellie Menke
Brittany Ruiz
Brittany Ruiz

[Update Wednesday 2:50 a.m.]

Longtime councilor Kellie Menke has held off a contentious run by opponent Brittany Ruiz to keep her Ward 2 seat on the McMinnville city council.

Menke has 3,644 votes, or 64.21%, to Ruiz's 2,011 votes, or 35.44% in unofficial results.

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.

Council president Menke, a retired certified public accountant, faced a challenger for the first time since she won election to the council in 2004. Menke, 68, framed her re-election bid as an opportunity for her to finish guiding several initiatives that have developed during her time on the council, such as the expansion of the urban growth boundary and the possible creation of a regional, consolidated fire district.

Ruiz, 39, who moved to McMinnville from Florida in 2015, criticized Menke’s long tenure on the council, while many longtime residents attacked her handling of recently approved subdivisions, accusing her of ignoring neighborhood concerns regarding traffic and environmental issues.

It was the first run for office for Ruiz, who has advocated for foster children and their families and exemptions to vaccines in certain cases, among other causes, before the Oregon Legislature. She is also the chief operating officer of Ruiz Partners Inc., a consulting business she runs with her husband.

While campaigning, she said many McMinnville residents feel disconnected from the city council and its decision-making process, which is why she decided to direct her attention more locally and run for the council, she said. Her goals included promoting transparency between the council and the public and allowing plenty of opportunities for public input on city issues. 

Ruiz’s connections to the Church of Scientology became the topic of several local online discussion forums in the past few months, notably when former Scientologist Leah Remini urged followers in a tweet to not vote for Ruiz. Ruiz has told the News-Register her ties to Scientology have been mischaracterized, and she appreciates the insights from that and other belief systems.

Ruiz was endorsed by and received contributions from the McMinnville Professional Firefighters union, Yamhill First (a pro-business PAC that has supported more conservative candidates in this election) and state Sen. Brian Boquist’s candidate committee, along with individual donations. Ruiz has raised $7,854 in cash and in-kind contributions.

Menke was endorsed by all sitting members of the city council. She was also endorsed by and received donations from Oregonians for Affordable Housing as well as donations from individuals. She has raised $6,005 in cash and in-kind contributions.

McMinnville resident Lesli Lucier filed a campaign finance complaint against Menke to the state alleging Menke did not file contributions and expenditures on time after exceeding a $3,500 threshold for limited contributions and expenditures. Menke acknowledged she’d filed some items late and expects a small fine. The state will conclude its investigation after the election.



Congratulations, Councilor Menke!


Congratulations Kellie! Thank you for running a clean race!

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