Oregon elections 2020: Republicans make ground, new drug laws passed, Central Oregon passes bonds

Changes to statewide and local law, as well as legislature positions, were decided on election day.

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A line of cars waits to vote in the 2020 general election in Bend, Oregon, on a cloudy day downtown, onthings including ballot measures, presidential and local candidates, and taxes.
Photo by Fredrik Finney-Jordet

Fredrik Finney-Jordet/The Broadside

Elections for Oregon, Deschutes County, and Bend were conducted on Nov. 3, deciding the future of several representatives, ballot measures, and offices across the state. While the Secretary of State has not yet certified the results, they are available in their near-final form. Here’s a rundown of what’s changed and where.

Statewide

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The Democratic Party kept its supermajority in the Oregon legislature with 18 of 30 seats in the Senate and 37 of 60 in the House. However, the Republican party gained two House seats on the coast, with Suzanne Weber, the mayor of Tillamook, winning District 32, and Gerald Boomer winning District 9 on the south coast.

The positions of State Treasurer and State Attorney General both went to the Democratic incumbents.

Democrat Shemia Fagan won the race for Secretary of State against Republican Kim Thatcher with 50 percent of the vote. Fagan will be replacing incumbent Bev Clarno, who did not run this year. With the 2020 census having just been conducted, Fagan will oversee the drawing of legislative districts in Oregon.

Central Oregon

After a long campaign focusing on funding for education, healthcare, and combating climate change, Bend’s own State House district 54 was taken from Republican Cheri Helt by Democratic candidate Jason Kropf with over 60% of the vote. “[I’d] like to thank Rep. Helt for a hard-fought campaign and her years of public service to our community,” Kropf’s campaign said on Tuesday.  “I look forward to putting the election behind us and moving forward together to make real progress on the issues that matter to Bend voters.”

The house district for Redmond and Bend’s area, district 53, was held by incumbent Republican Jack Zika with over 57% of the vote. “I’m honored to represent Central Oregon again in the legislature and continuing to work towards making it affordable for all Central Oregonians,” said Zika’s campaign on Wednesday.

The race for Bend’s State Senate District 27, which includes Redmond and other rural areas, has not yet been called. As of Nov 11, incumbent Republican Tim Knopp was up by 1.64% of the vote against Democrat Eileen Kiely. Knopp has been the senator for that district since 2013 and famously walked out of the State Senate session to block the 2019 cap and trade bill’s passing. On Thursday, Knopp clarified that the election was not yet over, citing several challenged ballots higher than his current lead margin. “It’s been an unusual campaign year, to say the least, but it’s not over,” his campaign said.

In Bend, city council positions 1 through 4 were up for election, and Democratic Party-endorsed candidates won all of the positions. This unseated current Republican councilmembers Justin Livingston and Chris Piper. Piper was appointed by mayor Sally Russel in 2018 to fill an empty seat.

Current Deschutes county sheriff Shane Nelson won his reelection against challenger Scott Schaier, a former Bend Police officer, with 55.93% of the vote.

Democrat Phil Chang beat incumbent Republican Phil Henderson for Deschutes County Commissioner, with 52 percent of the vote. “[We] shared a vision for a county that grows well, with services to meet the growing needs of our community,” Chang’s campaign said on Wednesday. “Now, we get to move forward with making that vision a reality!”

Ballot Measures

As for ballot measures, every state measure passed in this year’s election. Measure 107, which will allow cities and districts to make their own campaign finance laws, Measure 108, which increases taxes on tobacco products, Measure 109, which legalizes the use of psilocybin for research and eventually medical purposes, and Measure 110, which changes the law such that those charged with only drug possession face time in state-funded drug rehabilitation centers, all passed.

Locally, bond measures were passed for both the Deschutes Public Library District and the Redmond School District to increase funding. Voters chose not to allow additional marijuana manufacturing facilities to be constructed in Deschutes County outside of cities. Bend voters passed a bond measure to improve transit options and quality in the city.

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