It’s go time at the ballot box; city council approves capital refi; sign your ballot; GOP says robocalls were from them; ok to harvest mussels; New website makes it easier to follow election results

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It’s go time at the ballot box…

It is Election Day and that means people in Florence will be deciding a variety of issues ranging from local to national.

On the local front, Western lane Ambulance District is seeking approval of a 45-cents-per-thousand operating levy.  The original levy was approved by voters eight years ago and will lapse without a ‘yes’ vote.  Another local matter:  the Lane County Justice of the Peace.  Rick Brissendon was appointed to the post earlier this year by Governor Kate Brown…. Neither he nor Woody Woodbury received a clear majority of votes in the primary, forcing a runoff.

At the state level, of course, there is the governor’s race and a hotly contested Secretary of State contest.

Many voters may be surprised to learn that there are a total of seven measures on the ballot.  Many are familiar with the corporate tax proposal of Measure 97, as well as the graduation rate proposal contained in Measure 98.  Two other measures would dedicate lottery funds to veterans services or outdoor education for fifth and sixth graders.  There are proposals to allow state universities to invest in the stock market; let judges serve beyond the age of 75; and ban the sale of animal parts from endangered species.

Council approves capital refinance

The Florence City Council last night opted in favor of restructuring a capital improvement loan program they made last year with Banner Bank.  City Manager Erin Reynolds:

Erin Reynolds – “Original financing was for a little bit over seven million.  Interest rates have dropped over the last year, we were directed to seek out with Banner Bank to see if we could receive a lower rate on the undrawn funds.”

Under the original loan structure, about $3.5-million would pay for the new Public Works Headquarters.

Erin Reynolds – “Another large chunk of that money is $2.7-million for what we’re calling Rhody Drive phase 2.  So that’s a water, and storm water and street project primarily.  That wraps around the southwest side of the hospital, Ninth Street back to Highway 101.”

Under the revision approved last night, the repayment terms would stay roughly the same, but the city would be able to draw an additional $2-million to fund other capital projects.

Robocalls came from GOP

The Oregon Republican Party has admitted they are behind many of the automated phone calls telling people their votes may not count.  Voters across Oregon received the calls late last week telling them their voter registration status was “inactive”.

Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins ordered an investigation of the calls Friday morning, calling them a “voter suppression activity” that appeared to be aimed at discouraging some voters from returning their ballots.

By Friday afternoon the Oregon GOP had taken responsibility for many of the calls.  Republican Party Chair Bill Currier said the calls were part of the party’s effort “to make inactive GOP voters eligible to vote.”

He was unapologetic about the fact that the calls had caused confusion for some voters and criticized what he called “dishonest” efforts to discredit them.

Lane County Elections Supervisor Cheryl Betschart said many of those receiving the calls that reported them to her office were properly registered and in fact, had already returned their ballots.

Easier election results

A new website with centralized election information from across the state is being rolled out just in time for the election today.

It will make it easier to track and follow results on election night and can be found at results-dot-OregonVotes-dot-gov. The new site replaces the old state results websites and includes election results pages for each county.  Previously, if you were interested in finding results for Oregon House and Senate elections, you would have to go to each individual county website and manually calculate the results.

As of Friday more than one-million Oregon voters had returned their ballots… and 110-thousand of Lane County’s 246-thousand ballots had been returned.

That sets the stage for what elections officials are calling a potential record turnout.

Sign your ballot

Before you drop your ballot in the drop box it is important that you remember to sign the back of the outside envelope.

Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betschart said they have received hundreds of ballots that are not signed… and that means they can’t be counted.

But, she says, there is still time.  Election workers have mailed postcards to all of the people who have returned unsigned ballots, letting them know they can still sign it.  Betschart says they must come to the Elections Department in Eugene, but they do have 14 days to sign it.  She assured those who forgot to sign that their ballot will be counted if it is signed in time.

She also said it’s too late to mail your ballot… it would not reach them in time.  The only way to return your ballot for counting right now is by depositing it in one of the 20 drop sites around the county… including the one in front of the Florence Justice Center… no later than eight pm today.

Mussel harvesting ok on south coast

It’s ok once again to gather mussels from the rocks along portions of the Oregon Coast.

The Oregon Departments of Agriculture and Fish and Wildlife say levels of a marine toxin present in the bi-valves has dropped below the alert level from Heceta Head to the Oregon-California border.  Mussel harvesting remains closed north of Heceta Head to the Columbia River because of domoic acid levels.

Officials point out that razor clamming remains closed for the entire coast because of the toxin; but the commercial harvest of bay clams is open.