Cave Junction Still Counting Ballots

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CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. – It’s almost three weeks since Oregon voters went to the polls, and there are still some boards and councils that have yet to fill vacancies because of close votes. In Josephine County, the board of commissioners has one vacancy to be settled by a mandatory recount and in Cave Junction, write-ins may decide who fills a spot on the city council.

Three positions on the Cave Junction City Council. The mayor and two councilors were on the November ballot, but Position 4, now held by appointee Willa Gustafson, drew no candidates. So now a handful of write-in candidates could face off when the dust settles.

“The leading candidate got seven votes, I believe it was,” explained Josephine County Clerk Art Harvey, “and then there were a number of candidates who had 3 or 4 votes. The person who got the seven votes, we had a problem finding him in our database. We did eventually find him and now it’s up to the city recorder to determine if he’s eligible.”

“For this general election there were three open seats, the Mayor’s seat, Council Position 2 and Council Position 4. Both the Mayor and Council Position 2 ran unopposed, and nobody filed for Position 4,” explained City Recorder Ryan Nolan.

As the city recorder, Nolan also points out that just because somebody wins and doesn’t accept the position, or is not able to serve in that position, doesn’t necessarily mean that those who were voted in second or third place will get to fill that vacancy on the city council.

“In the state of Oregon, the person who wins the election is the winner,” Nolan states. “If they decide not to serve, or are not qualified to serve determined by the city, then it would be a vacancy. At that point, it would be filled by an appointment from the city council.”

If there’s a tie vote, all those who tied would cast lots in a manner to be determined by the city council. 62 people received at least one vote. Nolan says John Gardner received seven write-in votes, but since he has only been a city registered voter since March, he is not qualified under the city charter to fill Position 4. The council will fill the vacancy by appointment at its first meeting in January.