Elections officials warn voters to mail ballots right awayWith seven days remaining until the July 6 special election in which voters will decide whether to recall four members of the Astoria School Board, just over one-third of the ballots have been submitted to Clatsop County Elections.

"We're at 34-percent turnout, as of Monday," said Chief Deputy County Clerk Nicole Williams. "We're getting ballots in pretty steadily."

Williams is recommending that voters mail their ballots by Wednesday because of the upcoming three-day weekend. Post offices and county offices will be closed Monday because of the Fourth of July holiday.

Voters may also drop off their ballots at the elections office in the Clatsop County Courthouse, 749 Commercial St., during regular business hours. On Election Day, the elections office will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to receive ballots.

Ballots must be returned to the office by 8 p.m. July 6, to be counted. Postmarks do not count.

Clatsop County Elections Division has mailed ballots to 7,411 registered voters in the Astoria School District, which encompasses precincts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 21, 29, 31, 36 and 46.

Voters in the school district will decide whether to recall board members David Kaspar, Ken Chapman, Bob Ellsberg and Bob Johnson. Laurie Choate is the only board member who is not part of the recall effort.

The Daily Astorian interviewed supporters of the recall, plus three of the four school board members. Their comments can be heard on the newspaper's Web site @ (Recall Audio)

In the interviews, one recall supporter, Michelle Gardner of Astoria, said the Citizen Advocates for Representation in Education (C.A.R.E.) group's action is about more than restructuring.

She said she was upset about the manner in which the board made the decision and said members failed to effectively communicate with patrons. "All we wanted was to have a discussion about it," she said.

Gardner has three children, all in elementary school in the Astoria School District. She has a degree in elementary education and is a certified teacher who has taught in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. "At first they said they wanted our ideas," she said, "then they said, 'we have already made our decision.'"

But board member Johnson said the board had no choice. He said the board was facing a "double whammy" of declining enrollment and a state budget shortfall and had to act in the best overall interests of the district. He said a budget counter-proposal suggested by some patrons was not workable.

Election results will be posted after 8 p.m. on election day on the county's Web site at (www.co.clatsop.or.us).

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