Ballots for the May 21 election are dribbling into Umatilla County.

County elections manager Kim Lindell said her office has received 3,678 ballots out of 43,874 for a return rate less than 8.4%.

“It’s going really slow,” she said.

Just six seats out of 122 seats on ballots in the county for next week’s election feature a competition between two candidates. Most of those are school boards.

Echo School Board member Connie Caplinger faces a challenge from Emily Spike.

Umatilla School Board member Toby Cranston drew an opposing bid from Jennifer Armstrong, the co-owner of Encore Wellness 4 Life, a Umatilla medical clinic. Cecili Longhorn, Stanfield Public Library director, is running for an open Stanfield School Board seat against Jim Griffin. And Athena-Weston School Board incumbent Jennifer McClure-Spurgeon faces Shannon Hoehna. McClure-Spurgeon is the mayor of Weston, and Hoehna is the owner and food safety consultant for SH Consulting, Weston.

Fire district boards round out the contested races.

Kelly Payan is running against incumbent Fred Sheely for a seat on the Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors, and incumbent Spike Piersol has a challenge from Sebastian Sanchez for the Umatilla County Fire District Board of Directors.

Morrow County has a better turnout. County clerk Bobbi Childers said her office sent 6,325 ballots and as of Monday accepted 1,154, about 18.3% return.

“We do have a tax measure and have a contested race for Port of Morrow for port commissioner,” she said.

Morrow County voters will decide on renewing the 39-cent levy to fund the hospital in Heppner, three clinics across the county and county-wide ambulance services. Morrow County residents John Murray and Debbie Radie are contending for Position 5 on the Port of Morrow Board of Commissioners.

Write-in votes could decide most of the races, which primarily consists of school boards and small taxing districts. If no one files for a seat, county elections officials look to the write-ins to determine the winner, then contact winners to find out whether the person accepts the position.

If the winner declines, the board, council or commission in charge of the seat makes an appointment.

Ballots are due to county elections offices or drop boxes by 8 p.m the night of the election.

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