When they receive it in the mail ahead of the May 15 election, thousands of Umatilla County residents could open up their ballot and not have much of a choice.
Although the Democratic nomination for Congressional District 2 is hotly contested and the Oregon State University Extension Service District will have a measure on the ballot, the filing period has been slow for local offices.
With a week left before the March 6 filing deadline, most seats only have one person running or no one running at all.
The offices up for election include state representative seats for district 57 and 58, three seats on the Circuit Court’s Sixth District, two seats on the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners and half the seats on the city councils for the county’s three largest cities: Hermiston, Pendleton and Milton-Freewater.
Although he hasn’t yet filed, the dean of the Oregon House of Representatives intends to run for a tenth term.
State Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, said he’s been focused on the short legislative session in Salem, but he intends to file for re-election to his District 57 seat before the deadline.
“I better get on it,” he said.
While he hasn’t made his run official, Smith has continued to raise money for his re-election campaign. According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website, Smith’s campaign account has received $24,000. A late entrance into the race won’t be a setback for Smith — no one has entered either the Republican or Democratic primaries to face Smith, who hasn’t had an electoral opponent since 2010.
District 57 encompasses Hermiston, Umatilla and Milton-Freewater in Umatilla County as well as the entirety of Morrow, Gilliam and Sherman counties and a part of Wasco County.
Smith’s colleague to the east — District 58 Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove — filed for re-election in September and remains the only entrant in the race.
The deputy leader of House Republicans, Barreto has raised $16,225 in 2018 and has a total cash balance of $80,776.
After beating John Turner in the primary and Heidi Van Schoonhoven in the general election in 2014, Barreto ran unopposed in 2016.
District 58 covers Pendleton and most of Umatilla County in addition to Union and Wallowa counties.
Circuit Court Sixth District
For the second election cycle in a row, Umatilla and Morrow county voters will have a competitive judge race.
The latest entrant in the race for Circuit Court Position 1, an open seat that will be vacated by Lynn Hampton’s retirement, is Pendleton attorney Rob Collins.
He is a partner at Collins & Collins, a law firm he’s run with his brother Mike since 1981.
A Pendleton High School graduate, Collins has a bachelor’s degree from Centre College, a university in Danville, Kentucky, and John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
According to his firm’s website, Collins specializes in estate planning, real estate, business advice and personal injury.
He’s been a member of the Pendleton Round-Up Board of Directors since 2010 and served on the Umatilla/Morrow County Housing Authority Board of Directors and the Pendleton Rotary Club.
Collins will face Michael Breiling, a Pendleton defense attorney from the Breiling & Van Kirk law firm.
In a previous interview, Breiling said he’s handled both criminal and family cases over his 22 years in law and would be well qualified for the bench.
Both Position 4 Judge Eva Temple and Position 5 Judge Christopher Brauer remain unopposed.
Commissioners and councils
There hasn’t been any movement in the two board of commissioners’ races since Athena Mayor John Shafer announced his run against incumbent Commissioner Larry Givens for his Position 2 seat.
This will be Givens’ fourth consecutive contested election. Shafer is a communications sergeant for the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office.
Position 1 Commissioner George Murdock has filed, but not yet drawn an opponent.
Pendleton got its first competitive council race when Carole Innes, a retired operations auditor for Northwest Farm Credit Services, filed to run for the open Pendleton City Council Ward 1 seat on Feb. 20.
In her filing paperwork, Innes highlighted her “numerous workshops and trainings” in “conflict resolution, planning, fraud detection, mental health, writing, fundraising, teamwork and human resources issues.”
Innes is running against John Cook, a retired firefighter. The seat became open when incumbent John Brenne died in January.
Two other incumbents have filed for their seats but don’t have any challengers.
Ward 2 City Councilor McKennon McDonald is running for her second term while at-large Councilor Jake Cambier is running for his first full term after he was appointed in 2016.
Despite the impending retirement for Ward 3 Councilor Neil Brown, no one has filed for the seat.
Hermiston city recorder Lilly Alarcon-Strong was out of the office Tuesday and could not provide the latest filing information for the four Hermiston City Council seats up for election.
As of Feb. 21, three people have filed for four seats.
Hermiston School Board member Mark Gomolski is running for the Ward 1 seat held by Lori Davis, who hadn’t filed as of that date.
Gomolski ran in the city council at-large race, just missing out on one of the four top spots in a field of five. He was elected to the school board as a write-in in 2017.
Semi-retired operating engineer Shean Fitzgerald is running to replace his wife, retiring Ward 2 Councilor Clara Beas Fitzgerald, while incumbent Ward 4 Councilor Doug Smith has filed for re-election.
No one is facing a contested election and there are no candidates for Ward 3, which is currently filled by Councilor Jackie Myers.
All three city council incumbents — Ward 1 Councilor Orrin Lyon and at-large councilors Steve Irving and Ed Chesnut — have all filed for re-election while drawing no challengers so far.
From 2008 to 2016, the council has only had two contested elections.