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County prepares for flood of primary ballots

A contested primary in which no presidential candidate has yet clinched their party’s nomination means Oregon’s primary actually matters — and resulted in a record number of registered voters in Multnomah County.

The last contested presidential primary in Oregon was in 2008.

“There’s a much higher registered voter count now compared with 2008,” said Tim Scott, Multnomah County elections director. “It’s the highest we’ve ever been.”

This May there are 464,321 registered voters in Multnomah County and 242,942 in Clackamas County. Scott predicts 60 percent of them will vote.

As of Wednesday, just 17 percent of the 140,327 registered voters in the Mt. Hood Community College District — which covers Multnomah and a portion of Clackamas county — had voted.

Here is a roundup of other local election issues.

Damascus disincorporation

There are just 6,643 registered voters in Damascus, but they are among those drawing the most attention in Tuesday’s primary as they decide whether to disband the city after 12 years of turmoil and disfunction. It would be just the fourth time since Oregon’s statehood in 1859 that a city disincorporated.

The issue remains so contentious that a City Council member filed a lawsuit to stop the election. A hearing in Clackamas County Circuit Court is scheduled on election day.

The city was formed in 2004 as a way to help local residents have more of a say in land-use planning and other services. But splits developed in the community and on the City Council and little if anything was accomplished.

If a majority of voters decide to disincorporate, the city will cease to exist, city taxes and fees will be eliminated and governance will revert to Clackamas County.

Centennial School District

The Centennial School District, faced with burgeoning growth in the south end of the district, has an $85 million construction measure on ballot. The money would be used to build a second middle school on property it owns in the Pleasant Valley area and to make repairs and upgrades at 10 other schools.

If approved, the state would give Centennial a $7.1 million matching grant. The bond would cost property owners $1.31 per $1,000 of assessed value, or an additional $262 in property taxes a year on a home assessed at $200,000.

Corbett School District

For the fourth time since 2013, the Corbett School District is asking voters to approve a construction bond — this time $11.9 million — to replace its aging middle school and make safety and accessibility improvements. The bond would cost taxpayers $1.78 per $1,000 of assessed property value or $356 a year for a house assessed at $200,000.

If approved, the state would give the district a $4 million matching grant.

Unlike most school bonds, there is active and visible opposition in the community, called Corbett Save Our Schools.

Legislative races

There are just three locally contested races for the Oregon House or Senate.

In House District 47, which covers east Portland between Interstate 205 and west Gresham, incumbent Rep. Jessica Pederson is stepping aside to run for Multnomah County commission position 3. No Republican filed for the seat, so the winner of the Democrat primary between Diego Hernandez, a member of the Reynolds School Board, and Gloria Ngezaho, a community activist and doctoral student at Concordia University, will take her seat next January.

In House District 51, which covers parts of Gresham, Damascus and Happy Valley, McDonald’s franchise owner Janelle Bynum of Happy Valley is facing Randy Shannon of Damascus, a retired road engineer for the city of Gresham.

In House District 52, which stretches from east Gresham to Hood River and includes Sandy and Estacada, Mark Reynolds, a retired teacher from Hood River, and Walt Trandum, a caregiver from Sandy — are competing in the Democratic primary to challenge Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, in the fall.

Multnomah County

A three-way race for Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Position 4 — which covers the cities of Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview and Wood Village and parts of east Portland — likely means that no one will win more than 50 percent of the vote and will result in a two-way runoff in November. The seat is currently held by Diane McKeel, who is barred by term limits from running again.

Lori Stegmann, an insurance agent and Gresham City Council member, is waging the most complete campaign for the $100,000 a year position. Her challengers are Amanda Schroeder of east Portland, a Veterans Administration union official, and Stanley Dirks, a former Wood Village City Council member who now serves on the city’s planning commission.

Clackamas County

As usual, Clackamas County has plenty of political intrigue.

Incumbent board of commissioners chairman John Ludlow of Wilsonville faces commissioners Jim Bernard of Canby and Paul Savas of Oak Grove and Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay. If either Bernard or Savas were elected outright, the four remaining members would have to appoint someone to complete the two years remaining in their terms.

Commissioner Martha Schrader of Canby faces Steve Bates of Boring and Jenifer Valley of Happy Valley for Position 3.

Sandy Mayor Bill King and Ken Humberton of Beavercreek are challenging incumbent Tootie Smith for Position 4. In all three races, if no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast in the primary, the top two finishers face off Nov. 8.

Clackamas County voters are also voting on an advisory measure on whether commissioners should pursue a voter-approved funding source — likely a car registration fee — to help pay for road work. And, the county is seeking approval of a $58.7 million bond to pay for upgrading its emergency communications system. The cost to the owner of an average house is estimated at $25 annually.