By NW Spotlight
Republican candidates Courtney Bangs and John Toyooka won their respective county commission races on primary election night, defeating Democrat incumbents Kathleen Sullivan and Sarah Nebeker. The victories have flipped the county commission to a Republican majority. The election centered around the challengers highlighting the incumbents’ leadership and voting records.
Both Bangs and Toyooka criticized Sullivan and Nebeker for voting to opt-out of the Linn County timber lawsuit. The class-action lawsuit was against the State of Oregon for not maintaining balanced forest management. Clatsop county had the most to gain (estimated at over $200 million) from the suit out of all the counties that were eligible to receive money because a significant portion of the county is state forestlands.
The Republican winners also highlighted their opponents’ inaction on Cap & Trade. Unlike many other rural counties, a majority of the Clatsop County commissioners decided not to declare opposition against the controversial legislation, despite State Senator Betsy Johnson’s outspoken disapproval. This drew further criticism from Bangs and Toyooka who both oppose the proposal, arguing it would be damaging to the local economy.
During the election, Bangs and Toyooka sought out and received endorsements from #TimberUnity as well as local timber companies and a new pro-business group, North Coast First PAC. Indivisible North Coast Oregon, an offshoot of the leftist national group, Indivisible, accused Bangs and Toyooka of associating with #TimberUnity by stating that it was full of far-right neo-fascists.
In the end, the campaign messages of Bangs and Toyooka were wildly successful in making the case that Sullivan and Nebeker’s voting records and leadership did not represent Clatsop County well. As of current tallies, Bangs won by 25% and Toyooka by nearly 20%.
Clatsop County is one of three counties at the center of one of Oregon’s most competitive elections for the State House, District 32. Tillamook Mayor Suzanne Weber (R) is running against Debbie Boothe-Schmidt (D) to replace outgoing State Representative Tiffiny Mitchell, who faced a recall attempt last year. After Tuesday night, House District 32 is comprised of mostly Republican-leaning counties and is energizing local Republicans for a win in the House in November.