It's unfortunate that we still don't know who won the county commissioner race

It's a strange feeling sitting in a newsroom on election night, slowly watching the results trickle in on local races.

In the old days - not so long ago in fact - the focus Election night was down at the county elections office. No more. In today's world, the focus has shifted to the ubiquitous computer as reporters and editors keep their eyes glued to the glowing terminals once the polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The first release of results is invigorating. So much built-up anticipation culminates in a gigantic whirlwind of numbers to sort through and digest. But then the system slows down and the rapid-fire pace of the initial results gives way to a slower, more frustrating rate for the final numbers.

In no race is this more apparent than the one for Clackamas County Commissioner.

From the get-go just after 8 p.m., Lake Oswego's Lynn Peterson jumped out to a fairly sizeable lead over her opponent, incumbent Larry Sowa. Starting about midnight Tuesday, however, her lead started to shrink. By mid-day Wednesday, she still held a lead but it was much smaller. Clackamas County Elections officials said that based on the number of ballots still not processed, it would be a mistake to call the election. And the indication was that many of those ballots wouldn't be counted Wednesday.

Thus, we are left with a headline saying, 'Commissioner race too close to call,' which is not the way we wanted to send out today's newspaper. We had hoped to be able to answer all of your local questions and this one can't be answered in this edition of the Review.

One suggestion we would offer to expedite the election process: Discontinue the practice of allowing voters to leave their ballots in other communities. One reason Clackamas officials were running behind was because of the large number of Clackamas ballots left in drop boxes in Multnomah and Washington counties. You vote where you live and that's where you should drop off your ballot.

As to other observations about the election:

n The Lake Oswego City Council race proved fascinating, especially with the apparent victory of young Kristin Johnson to the council. While the numbers aren't official, as of press time she held a 157-vote lead over J.T. Tenneson for the third and final open council position. Looking secure are the top two vote getters, Roger Hennagin and Donna Jordan.

n Senate District 19: Democrat incumbent Richard Devlin proved to be a tough campaigner and returns for another term. He got nearly 62 percent of the vote.

n House District 38: Voters appreciate the job Democrat incumbent Greg Macpherson is doing. He is re-elected with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

n House District 37: It was a slim margin of victory but Republican Scott Bruun returns to his post with just more than 52 percent of the votes.

n In one of our two least favorite races - both because of the nasty nature of the political advertising - Congressional Fifth District Democrat Darlene Hooley captured more than 54 percent of the vote to win over Lake Oswego's Mike Erickson. We wish that the campaigning could have been positive. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

n In our other least favorite race, Oregon voters returned Democrat Ted Kulongoski to the governor's post for another term. We wish the campaign between him and Republican Ron Saxton could have focused on issues and positives, rather than name calling and sliminess. Again, we didn't get our wish.

n Finally, in the national arena, the balance of power has swung away from the Republicans. Democrats now control the House of Representatives. The closeness of two races in the Senate (Virginia and Montana) puts control of that body up in the air. And President Bush announced Wednesday that, as head of the Republican Party, he shares 'a large part of the responsibility' for the poor showing by Republicans.

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