Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
November 13, 2012
Jennifer Wheeler 54.42%
Dan Clem 45.27%
POLK COUNTY -- Commissioner Jennifer Wheeler's phone rang just after 8 p.m. on Election Day.
She looked to see who was calling and knew it was good news.
Polk County Administrator Greg Hansen was still in the office when election results were released. Being one of the first to know the outcome of Wheeler's race with Salem City Councilor Dan Clem for her position on the Polk County Board of Commissioners, he called to congratulate her.
"When I saw who it was, I was pretty sure it was good news," she said.
Her hunch was right.
Commissioner Jennifer Wheeler
Wheeler will retain her position on the Polk County Board of Commissioners, cruising to a 54 percent to 45 percent victory over Clem.
"I feel grateful to a whole lot of people who had confidence in the job that I'm doing," Wheeler said Nov. 6 after early results were released. "They are what made this campaign successful."
Wheeler said knowing her first campaign ended in victory was a great feeling, but the day after Election Day it would be business as usual.
"I'm going to be at work," she said, noting that she is pleased to be able to continue her work with fellow commissioners Craig Pope and Mike Ainsworth. "We have a great team."
The race boiled down to a battle between West Salem and the rest of the county.
Clem won the four precincts in West Salem by significant margins, earning 56 percent, 57 percent, 62 percent and 66 percent of the vote. He also won in the precinct covering part of rural Salem and Independence by a 57 percent to 42 percent margin.
Wheeler won the rest of the county, all with more than 60 percent of the vote in rural areas, except the Ballston-Spring Valley precinct, where her advantage was 55 percent to 44 percent. All three Dallas precincts favored Wheeler with more than 60 percent of the vote. Independence, Monmouth and Falls City offered strong support for Wheeler as well, at 69 percent, 69 percent and 63 percent, respectively.
Wheeler was appointed in April 2011 after the death of commissioner Mike Propes and is the first woman to serve in the position.
Wheeler's victory makes her the first woman to be elected to the board. It is a noteworthy accomplishment for Wheeler.
"One hundred years ago and one day, men (in Oregon) voted to give their mothers, sisters and daughters a voice," Wheeler said. "I'm proud to be the first woman elected to be a commissioner in Polk County."
Clem, who has served on the Salem City Council since 2003, congratulated Wheeler on her victory and vowed to stay involved in Polk County's efforts to improve infrastructure and attract new business.
"My motto is `Working Together for Polk County,'" he said. "I said I wanted to be part of the team, to advocate for jobs.
"I'm obviously very thankful to those who supported me and those who voted," he said.