POLK COUNTY -- Voters in Polk County joined their neighbors in Marion and Yamhill counties by supporting a $92 million bond issue for Chemeketa Community College.

In Polk County, the Chemeketa levy received 54.19 percent "yes" votes to 45.91 percent "no" votes.

Equally important to supporters of the levy was that voter turnout was high enough in all areas of the Chemeketa service district to meet the standard required by Oregon's double-majority law.

"We're very excited with the outcome of the election," said John Hawkins, director of college advancement at Chemeketa. "The results aren't totally official yet, but all signs point to a positive outcome.

"It's gratifying to see that kind of support in our community," Hawkins added.

Nearly half of the bond money will go toward building new facilities, with the rest applied toward renovation, maintenance and replacement of other existing facilities. Programs like nursing will expand and a new emergency training facility will be constructed, all designed to help create a more educated workforce for the region.

"That was a selling point ... better job training that helps people get more higher-paying jobs," noted Hawkins. "That helped convince the voters of the need for the bond."

Architects are expected to be selected late in the summer and in the fall, and Hawkins estimated it would be 2010 before any of the projects are under way. He described the project as "a six- to eight-year process to get buildings up and online."

The Chemeketa bond levy was just one of several issues and races registered voters in Polk County decided during the May 20 vote-by-mail primary.

In one of the few contested local races, Republican Jim Thompson of Dallas won his party's nomination and will square off against Democrat Jason Brown of Dallas to represent the 23rd District in the Oregon House of Representatives. Both posted convincing margins of victory in the primary.

Thompson received nearly 62 percent of the votes cast in Polk County to about 38 percent for challenger Craig Pope of Monmouth (Airlie). Thompson held an overall 61.3-38.4 margin in the district, which includes portions of Polk, Benton, Linn, Marion and Yamhill counties.

Brown, who won the Democratic nomination for the same position two years ago but lost to Republican Brian Boquist in the general election, easily defeated Wesley West 77-22 percent in the county and 74-25 districtwide.

In the race to see who will replace the retiring Darlene Hooley as Oregon's U.S. Congressional Representative from the 5th District, Republican Mike Erickson will face Democrat Kurt Schrader.

Erickson, of Lake Oswego, overcame a late story sent out by the Kevin Mannix campaign and reported in some media outlets that Erickson impregnated a woman several years ago and paid for her to have an abortion. Erickson garnered 48.04 percent of the vote districtwide to win his party's nomination over Mannix, who received 46.33 of the Republican vote.

Mannix, of Salem, did win in Polk County, where he received 49.47 percent of the vote to Erickson's 45.25.

Schrader, from Canby, received nearly 48 percent of the vote in Polk County and just over 54 percent throughout the district to easily defeat his nearest challengers.

"I appreciate the confidence of the Democrats," Schrader said. "That is really huge. This is big in this type of a primary and it looks well for the fall."

Jeff Merkley won the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate, topping five other candidates, and will face Republican incumbent Gordon Smith in the fall. Smith was an easy winner against challenger Gordon Leitch.

In House District 24, which represents a small portion of northern Polk County, Jim Weidner won the Republican nomination over Jim Bunn, who won in Polk County but came up short districtwide, and Edward Glad. Democrat Bernt (Al) Hansen ran unopposed.

Republican incumbent Mike Propes was unopposed for his seat on the Polk County Board of Commissioners, where no Democrat filed for the race. However, Propes is expected to be challenged in the fall general election by Independent candidate Don Homuth.

In other unopposed races: Douglas Schmidt won election as Polk County Assessor; Republican Brian Boquist of Dallas will face Democrat Kevin C. Nortness for the State Senate seat in the 12th District; and Republican incumbent Vicki Berger will face Democratic challenger Richard Riggs for the seat in House District 20.

Voter turnout in Polk County was nearly 58.9 percent.

Complete results of how Polk County voted in the May 20 primary election can be found at www.co.polk.or.us/Clerk/Vote.asp.

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