Richard Lee retained his county Board of Commissioners' seat by 37 votes Tuesday. Jeff Hazen easily won his race. Ann Samuelson and Russ Earl will do it all over again in November.

Lee thanked his opponent, Cindy Price, for a well-fought campaign for the District 3 seat.

"I had a tough opponent, and she ran a tough race, a good race, and she worked hard. And her working hard made me work hard," he said.

The final, unofficial tally gave Lee 1,115 votes to Price's 1,078, a margin of just 37.

The local farmer and businessman was appointed to the commission in 2002 and elected later that year. He has served twice as chairman of the five-person board.

During the campaign, Lee pointed to the board's accomplishments during the past four years, including breaking ground on the long-awaited Community Corrections Transition Center and saving money by bonding the county's debt to the PERS retirement system. He said the board is "pretty well focused" and has taken steps to address the local methamphetamine problem and economic development, and is pursuing a solution to the long-standing jail overcrowding issue. "We're working on it, we're on top of it. I think we're moving forward."

Price, a writer and former station manager for KMUN radio station, is married to District Attorney Josh Marquis, which prompted comments from some that she faced a potential conflict of interest as a commissioner. Price sought an opinion from the state ethics office stating she could serve on the board. (Marquis was elected unopposed to a fourth term Tuesday).

Hazen said it will be tough to wait the eight months before he joins the Board of Commissioners.

He easily won election to the District 1 seat, beating opponent Mike Beketic by a four-to-one margin. He will replace Commissioner Lylla Gaebel, who did not run for re-election.

An assistant manager at Costco in Warrenton, Hazen said he'll keep on top of the board's activities for the rest of the year so he can "hit the ground running" when he's officially sworn in in January.

The former Warrenton city commissioner and mayor said he's interested to see the differences working with the county versus the city, but said his experience with Warrenton will "give me a head start" as a county commissioner.

During the campaign, Hazen touted his business experience and involvement in various local economic development programs, saying he wants to make strengthening the local economy a top priority.

While there are many hot-button issues facing the county, Hazen said he'll be satisfied at first to get his feet wet dealing with the day-to-day business the commission must deal with.

No clear winner emerged in the four-way race for the District 5 position, which means that the top two vote-getters, Samuelson and Earl, will vie in November for the seat, which is being vacated by Commissioner Helen Westbrook.

Businesswoman Samuelson lead the field, according to the final unofficial results, with 620 votes to 536 for Earl, 298 for John Benson and 184 for John Dunzer. With no single candidate getting more than 50 percent of the total, the top two finishers will face off in the general election.

"We've got to have jobs for people - we can't become a county of haves and have-nots," said Samuelson, who made economic development her top issue, pointing to her own experience taking over and running her family business, Astoria Plumbing and Tile.

Earl served a term on the board from 1999 to 2003.


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.