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Lincoln County election round-up

A view of the ocean including waves and rocks. The sky is blue.
Chris Lehman
Lincoln County voters weighed in on a variety of races Tuesday, including District Attorney and a County Commissioner seat.

This article originally appeared on YachatsNews.com and is used with permission.

A deputy district attorney who stepped in to run for district attorney at the last minute won election Tuesday to become Lincoln County’s third district attorney in four years.

Jenna Wallace, 34, of Toledo, was winning with more than 50 percent of the vote over longtime Newport defense attorney Kathryn Benfield.

With 90 percent of ballots counted Tuesday night, Wallace was beating Benfield 6,425 to 5,184. With 55 percent of the vote and just 10 percent more ballots to be counted, Wallace appeared to have the 50 percent majority she needed to take office next January.

First-term district attorney Lanee Danforth filed for re-election last September and then suddenly – and without public explanation – withdrew in early March. Wallace, who has been a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office since 2022 and chief deputy since August, filed soon afterwards — as did Benfield.

Danforth’s four years in office was marked by office turmoil and turnover, public clashes with county commissioners, and a federal lawsuit by a former deputy district attorney. Both Wallace and Benfield said they would work to change that.

The Lincoln County clerk’s office said 90 percent of ballots had been counted with more results being released at 5 p.m. Wednesday and then again at 5 p.m. Friday.

It also appears there will be a two-person runoff in November for county commissioner.

While five-term incumbent county commissioner Claire Hall easily beat four challengers in Tuesday’s primary, she failed to get more than 50 percent of the vote to win a sixth term outright. That means Hall and second-place finisher Rick Beasley, a Depoe Bay city councilor, will face off in November.

Hall had 4,530 votes Tuesday night, or 39 percent of the 11,590 total votes cast in the commission race. Beasley had 2,325, or 20 percent, while Newport city councilor Ryan Parker had 1,714, Tyrone Halbrook of Waldport 1,520 and Don Gomez of Newport 1,501.

All the money measures on the ballot in Lincoln County were passing Tuesday.

Oregon Coast Community College’s request for a $33.16 million bond to build a trades education center on its Newport campus and also upgrade education, health, aquarium sciences and welding programs, update classrooms and technology and make safety improvements was easily approved 8,417 to 4,653 after the first round of ballot-counting.

College officials said Tuesday night they were pleased by the strong show of support from voters.

“Since I arrived in Lincoln County, I’ve heard consistently from folks from all walks of life some version of, ‘What this county really needs is more trades education’,” said Birgitte Ryslinge, who is retiring in September after 10 years as OCCC’s president. “Those folks stepped up, and voted to fund this work, and to invest in their county’s growth and development. We are humbled and deeply moved by their support. ”

Voters in the Lincoln County Library District — Waldport, Toledo, Siletz, Newport, Lincoln City and unincorporated areas – were approving the renewal of an operating levy of 9 cents per $1,000 assessed property value to replace a levy of the same amount that expires in 2025. The vote was 4,822 to 2,392.

County clerk Amy Southwell mailed ballots to 40,099 registered voters in the county. Turnout as of Tuesday night was 34 percent, dramatically lower than the 50 percent to 60 percent in previous presidential year primaries.

Other results as of Tuesday night included:

  • Voters in the city of Newport were passing 1,487 to 1,271 a measure that will institute a 5 cent per gallon year-round gasoline tax to replace one that varies from one to three cents depending on the season to fund road repairs;
  • Voters in the Depoe Bay Rural Fire Protection District were approving 1,070 to 433 a five-year levy of $1.39 per $1,000 assessed property value – 30 cents more than the levy expiring in June 2025 — to fund operations and personnel;
  • Voters in the Gleneden Beach Sanitary District south of Lincoln City were approving 484 to 205 a five-year local option levy of 77 cents per $1,000 assessed property value to renovate and improve its infrastructure;
  • Voters in Toledo were passing 406 to 219 a $2.65 million bond to replace the 32-year-old city water tank on Ammon Road and would result in a property tax of 35 cents per $1,000 assessed value;
  • Two legislative incumbents – Sen. Dick Anderson, R-Lincoln City and Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis, are unopposed in their party’s primaries. Anderson will face Democrat Jo Beaudreau, a Florence city councilor, in the November general election. No Republican filed to challenge Gomberg in November.
Quinton Smith founded YachatsNews in 2019 after a 40-year career as a reporter and editor for United Press International and three Oregon newspapers. He worked in various editing positions at The Oregonian from 1984 to 2008 where he led a reporting team that won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.