By editorial board • 

Voters turn tide this time, embrace good government

In May balloting two years ago, voters in neighboring Newberg were swayed by an infusion of PAC money into installing three right-leaning culture warriors on their local school board.

The disruptors joined a fourth, already serving, in fomenting chaos across the board. The debacle triggered a mass exodus of students, teachers and administrators, a torrent of litigation, corrosive state and national publicity, plunging staff morale and a bitter recall that failed narrowly.

But those voters may have inadvertently done their counterparts around the state a big favor by warning them off a like fate in this year’s May balloting.

A trio of like-minded candidates whose campaigns were operated mostly by a new PAC lost by roughly 60-40 margins in McMinnville, despite benefiting from an infusion of out-of-city money, much of it partisan in nature.

What’s more, the pattern repeated itself in districts all around the state. The roster includes Newberg, where better-qualified and more serious-minded challengers outpolled a slate of well-funded and well-coordinated candidates in all five races.

We were also encouraged to see voters handily approve measures to consolidate the McMinnville Rural Fire Protection District and McMinnville Fire Department into the new McMinnville Fire District, and award it $2 per thousand in property tax funding.

In recent years, Republican partisans, frustrated at their inability to win higher-stakes state and federal races in Democratically dominated Oregon, have increasingly begun to turn their attention to non-partisan city, county and school races. The lures seem to be a bigger bang for the buck and better prospects of winning.

Locally, that has manifested itself in organized recruitment of candidates, management of campaigns and infusion of funding by the Republican Party Central Committee, the George family political machine, Timber Unity, and assorted other operatives and affiliates of like orientation. The Georges alone have pumped $167,000 into Yamhill County campaigns since Jan. 1, 2020, including both the initial school takeover campaign in Newberg and the campaign to thwart its undoing via recall.

But these outside forces have tended to put more emphasis on candidates’ ideological orientation than their educational credentials, public service bonafides, pertinent knowledge and experience, demonstrated leadership or even ability to mount a credible campaign. Often, they don’t seem able to stand on their own or make their own case, and motivated voters tend to see through that.

The biggest challenge seems to lie in rallying enough such voters, particularly in traditionally low-turnout off-year elections.

Yamhill County turnout ran 25.7% as of noon Wednesday.

While that represents a significant improvement, and exceeds the 23.1% logged statewide, it means 55,000 registered county voters left critical decisions to the other 19,000. And that’s inexcusable in the state that makes it easier to vote than any other.

Voting is a sacred right. In a democracy like ours, it ought to be exercised by everyone, at every opportunity.

Some counties did better. Leading the way were Wasco at 54.5%, Sherman at 45.6%, Benton at 38.8% and Crook at 37.2%.

At the other end, turnout ran just 15% in Jefferson and 17% in Linn and Malheur. But we take no solace in that.

All in all, we view the results, both here and elsewhere, largely as a declaration of support for sane, sensible management of local municipal and educational institutions. And we breathe a sign of relief in that, given the turbulence of our times.



Yes a big THANK YOU to the sensible voters in Mcminnville that saw thru all the out of town/area GOP money being thrown around to get a racist board voted into our schools.

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