506-vote advantage narrows to 128 by Wednesday morning in heated campaign

Calling his run for the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District board against Jerry Jones Jr. a “well-fought race,” Greg Cody admitted on Tuesday night the voter numbers weren’t changing in his favor as election night results rolled in.

But change they did. 

The 506-vote, 51 percent lead Jones enjoyed last night over Cody had eroded by Wednesday morning to 128 — a near dead heat of 49.96 percent, or 13,512 votes, to Cody’s 49.49 percent, or 13,384 votes, according to the Washington County Elections Division’s unofficial election results reported at 3:49 a.m. Updated results aren’t expected until Friday at 3 p.m.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Cody said on Wednesday morning. “I can accept not being the victor at this point, but the election is not over until it’s over.”

Jones said on Wednesday he plans to go about his business and check back Friday to see where the vote tallies land.

“I’m still feeling good and am on top,” the Aloha resident said. “I’m feeling good that I will stay there.”

In one of the more heated and costly campaigns related to a Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District board position in recent memory, early returns showed Jones, 36, a longtime city of Beaverton and park district volunteer, running slightly ahead of Cody, 59, who serves as chairman of the park district’s Budget Committee as well as on the Parks Advisory Committee.

Cody, a Beaverton resident and credit manager with the Commercial Agency, and Jones, manager of Lanphere Construction and Development, were the only candidates running for the Position 2 seat two-term park district board member Bill Kanable will vacate when his term expires at the end of June. Citing the need to change focus and a desire to keep the board fresh, Kanable, who endorsed Cody and decried Jones’ campaign spending, announced his intention not to run earlier this year.

The winner of the seat will take over Kanable’s position in a new, four-year term on July 1.

“I’m feeling real confident now,” Jones said around 9:30 p.m. from DiCarli Restaurant on Southwest Watson Avenue, where he gathered with about 50 friends, family and supporters. “I knew it was going to be close. I am happy I ran a very positive campaign with a very good message to voters as to the perspective I could bring. I think it resonated with voters. Now I’m excited to be part of the board and get to work.”

Cody, who serves on the park district’s Sports Advisory Committee along with Jones, claimed his opponent spent an unprecedented amount of money in his campaign, which he says is fueled by local developers and construction industry heavyweights. He also criticized Jones for what he considered a spotty meeting attendance record with the sports committee and on a Systems Development Charges Advisory Committee he served on between April and June 2007.

According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Elections Division, Jones received $18,675 in cash and in-kind contributions as of election night, while Cody has accumulated $4,789 in cash and in-kind donations. Jones’ largest contributor, Precision Holdings, which owns Precision Body & Paint, donated $2,500; Miller Systems Consultants Inc., donated $1,500; and Madden Industrial Craftsmen Inc. provided a $1,000 contribution. Lois Ditmars, a partner with Barnes Road-based J. Peterkort & Company developers, donated $500.

Much of Cody’s campaign money came from his family, with $1,048 contributed by his son, Aaron, and $1,384 from his own pocket. Cody also received $500 from Jon A. McWilliams and $250 from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.

Jones attributed the high volume of contributions to the time he spent pounding the pavement and knocking on doors.

“I think it’s been a well-fought race,” Cody admitted a little after 9 p.m. from the Fireside Grill on Hall Boulevard, where he gathered with about 20 family members, friends and supporters. “I’m proud of what I accomplished. It’s good for the district to point out how important we are and what a great lifestyle the district provides the community. I am forever grateful that Mr. Jones thought I was that dynamic a candidate or opponent that he had to spend this kind of money to beat me.”

Noting voter turnout for the race was the highest its been in 18 to 20 years, Cody said the money his opponent spent paid off.

“It was a matter of having the political machine fighting against the guy who just loves the district,” he said of the slim vote difference. “It’s not the last. I will continue to serve the district in every way I can.”

Cody said he’d be more likely to concede to his opponent via Twitter than a phone call.

Jones brushed off criticism about his campaign, saying he picked up voters’ interest in having a different point of view on the park district board.

“I think voters want a fresh perspective on the board, one that’s representative of small children and families who are park users today,” he said. “I think they also like the idea that someone is involved is involved in the community in several different facets. I can bring that perspective to the board and help the district.”

In the park district’s two uncontested races, board incumbent Larry Pelatt took in 21,107 votes, or 98.50 percent, with 322 votes going to write-in candidates. Board member Bob Scott garnered 21,227 votes, with 288 voters choosing write-ins.

Board President Joe Blowers and board member John Griffiths were re-elected to four-year terms in 2011.

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