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Council race narrows to four

Forest Grove -- Incumbent Deena Barrett falls short of signatures in her bid for the November ballot

What looked like a five-way race for three seats on the Forest Grove City Council has been pared down to a four-candidate contest.

County elections officials determined that incumbent Councilor Deena Barrett did not have enough valid signatures on her petition for candidacy to qualify for the ballot.

Forest Grove City Recorder Anna Ruggles, who serves as the city's elections officer, said Barret's petition was signed by 26 people.

To make the ballot, city candidates must have the signatures of 25 active, registered voters from within the city limits who have not signed a rival's petition.

In Barrett's case, Ruggles said, three of the signatures were not valid. One person was not a registered voter; one was registered, but classified as 'inactive'; and the third had signed a petition for a competing candidate.

Barrett, who was first elected eight years ago, said she was disappointed at falling short.

'It's the end of an era,' she said Saturday, while admiring the chalk art drawings on Main Street. At the same time, Barrett, who has a son in high school, said her move off the volunteer panel would free up time for her family. 'I suddenly have a whole bunch of evenings free,' she said.

Ruggles said that invalid signatures are usually detected in time for a candidate to collect more, but because Barrett turned her petition in just minutes before the filing deadline, she didn't have a chance to collect more.

'If she had come in earlier I would have been able to notify her that she was three short,' Ruggles said.

Barrett's exit from the race leaves four candidates vying for three slots. Incumbents Tom Johnston and Ron Thompson will be facing challengers Aldie Howard and Camille Miller.

Under Forest Grove's at-large council system, candidates do not represent geographic districts. Instead, the top three vote-getters will get seats on the citywide council.