TALENT — Two new members appeared to be headed to seats on the Jackson County Fire District No. 5 board of directors, beating out incumbents, but the third race was too close to call by deadline Tuesday night.
Incumbent Sean Curry had a 21-vote lead over Bob Miller as of 9:30 p.m., reversing Miller's edge in earlier returns. Judy Baalman was ahead of incumbent Evan Petersen by 123 votes. Bill Robertson had a lead of 224 votes over incumbent Fred Baumgartner.
Robertson and Miller have both served on the board before and had campaigned against a $1.8 million district equipment bond levy that was defeated in November. The two have been critical of district spending policy.
In the battle for Position 3, Robertson, who had previously served for 17 years, received 863 votes, for 57.4 percent of the total. Baumgartner, a 17-year board member, gathered 639 votes for 42.5 percent of the total.
"I think it's a big voice toward more government and fiscal restraints," said Robertson.
"I put a very strong statement in the Voters' Pamphlet and talked to a lot of people," he said. "At least the questions will be asked. Hopefully we'll convince the board and the public that our thoughts on how the fire department should be will be better."
Position 4's race drew 745 votes for Curry, or 50.54 percent, to Miller's 724 votes, or 49.12 percent. Curry had been elected to the board in 2009 following appointment to the body.
"Let's wait it out," Miller said early in the evening. "That's too close to call. Whichever one of us wins, the district wins."
In a three-way race for Position 5, Baalman appeared victorious with 682 votes, or 43.49 percent of the total.
"I'm elated if that holds out," said Baalman. "It's a little close.
"I put out signs and I talked to people that I know," she said. "I've grown up here and lived here almost 68 years. I know a lot of people and I'm known to do the right thing."
Position 5 incumbent Evan Petersen received 559 votes, for 35.65 percent, and Steve Schulman had 324 votes, for 20.66 percent. Petersen had been appointed to the board in January.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at email@example.com.