Ron Rivers wins: race makes history


News staff writer

May 20, 2006

A historical event occurred on Tuesday when a write-in candidate captured the seat of Hood River County Commission Chair in a primary election.

In unofficial results, Parkdale orchardist Ron Rivers netted 60.88 percent of the vote. He needed 50 percent plus one of all votes cast to have his name singly listed on the November ballot.

Rivers is still cautious about claiming victory until the election has been certified on June 5. However, he is aware the numbers are unlikely to change, so he provided his thoughts on the outcome of the controversial race.

“This election was both humbling and honoring at the same time,” said Rivers. “For the citizens to step forward and deliver a message about integrity and trust in this way was totally remarkable.”

He contends the ballots reflected voter opinion about the “11th hour switcheroo” performed by his opponent Maui Meyer and former chair Rodger Schock.

On March 7, Shock and Meyer, who currently serves as the District 2 County Commissioner, arrived in the elections office 45 minutes before the filing deadline.

Schock then withdrew from seeking a third term in the at-large role. And Meyer immediately signed up as the sole candidate for the job.

When Rivers, 62, learned what had transpired, he decided it was time to act. He knew of one individual who had expressed interest to both Schock and Meyer about the office. But that potential candidate had not wanted to challenge an incumbent who he believed was doing good work.

Rivers, himself, had been advised by business associates weeks earlier not to undertake an arduous campaign against Schock. He had resolved to make a bid for the position when the current chair stepped down.

However, Rivers decided to take on the equally difficult task of waging a write-in campaign after learning what Meyer and Schock had done. He said it was heartening to have scores of volunteers willing to back his effort, both on the ground and with financial support.

“None of this would have happened if these guys had been above board,” said Rivers.

Both Schock and Meyer declined to comment about whether the election results were tied to the filing controversy.

Sandra Berry, county elections director, cannot find any race in recent history where a write-in candidate won a local primary — or even a general election.

“I can’t remember this happening before,” she said.

Nancy Ferry from the state Secretary of State’s Office, Elections Division, gave a similar comment.

“Nobody here is aware of a write-in winning any kind of a state race on a primary ballot,” she said.

Berry credits the contested race for bringing out 47 percent of the county’s 10,881 voters. Thirty-eight percent of voters statewide marked ballots in the May 16 election.

“I’m pleased with this turnout; it was a little lower than I expected but the same as in 2002,” she said.

In the local runoff for chair, Meyer took second place with 30.1 percent of the vote. The third challenger, Paul Nevin, netted 8.85 percent.

Within two weeks of River’s announcing his candidacy, Schock resigned. He apologized to citizens for causing an “absolute breakdown in trust.”

“I think we all know there was nothing done illegally; we followed the rules. But there was an appearance of impropriety,” he said on his last evening in office.

In March, Meyer explained that he had filed after Schock repeatedly asked him to fill the gap. He said no harm was intended by his action and he would not campaign in the primary so that Rivers had the maximum opportunity to get his name before voters.

Meyer has two years remaining in his current four-year term. He represents constituents in the district that largely encompasses the City of Hood River.

Shortly before 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Meyer wrote the following concession statement, “To be part of this community and work on local issues is a great privilege, and one of my passions. I’m excited to continue my role as District 2 Commissioner and look forward to working with Ron as county chair.

“I have kept my word to ‘stand still’ during the primary, and with tonight’s election, my duty to former Chairman Schock has now been completed.”

Rivers said he will have no difficulty working with Meyer, starting on Jan. 1, 2007.

“I don’t have any personal problems with Mr. Meyer. He’s a gentleman, a fine family man and a good businessman.”

For the remainder of the year, Rivers plans to observe county board meetings and get up to speed on key issues. He has no specific political agenda except to work hard on behalf of his constituents.

“I’m open and I’m transparent. You will get my honest opinion on all issues and I’m not going to shut anybody out,” he pledged.

How the County Voted

Please click on:

Hood River County Primary vote totals for May 16 Primary Election figures.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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