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Two CRF&R board incumbents tossed in election, 1 returned

President fends off Melton in close race to retain seat

FILE PHOTO - The Columbia River Fire & Rescue administration office in St. Helens.The slate of challengers running for seats on the Columbia River Fire & Rescue board of directors went two-for-three in the Tuesday, May 19, election, with Joshua Marks and Ron Schlumpberger winning seats but Ronda Melton falling short.

Marks defeated incumbent Kim Walker with 55.5 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Columbia County Elections Department, while Schlumpberger ousted board Vice President Bob Braud with 58.6 percent of the vote.

The initial batch of results at 8:25 p.m. Tuesday showed an exact tie in the Position 1 contest, with board President Mark Kreutzer and challenger Melton knotted at 1,289 votes apiece. But after a second batch of votes was counted, shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, Kreutzer pulled ahead with 52 percent of the vote.

“I’m optimistic that the numbers will remain the same,” said Kreutzer, although he cautioned that “anything can happen” before the county certifies the election results next month.

The result of the election places two critics of the CRF&R administration on the five-person board, but leaves them short of a majority.

“I’m not really sure how to take those results,” Kreutzer said. “I’m going to assume that people know that my experience in the fire service in Oregon, and on the national scene, and in Columbia County — I have a real passion for it, and I think I represent the citizens at every level.”

He added, “The people spoke, you know, and that’s the way you look at it. And we’ll just move forward and see where we go.”

Marks noted that the other three board members are longtime incumbents.

“We’re just hoping that they accept us, and that we can figure out a way to work well together and get the changes that need to be made to get everyone working together again,” Marks said.

Kreutzer said he is disappointed to see Braud and Walker lose their seats, but he said he looks forward to working with the incoming board members.

“You know, I would treat them as any other new board member, whether they’re appointed or whether they’re elected,” he said.

Marks said his top priority as a newly elected board member will be working to bridge divisions within the fire district.

“I’m an open guy,” said Marks. “People can come and talk to me, or if they’ve got concerns, bring them up to me, and I’ll make sure that they’re looked at.”

Schlumpberger did not return a call requesting comment before press time.

In the neighboring Scappoose Fire District, where Marks is a lieutenant, Ron Cairns, David Grant and David Sorensen faced no opposition in winning election to the board of directors.