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Falls, Winters to settle race for sheriff in November

With nearly all of the more than 60,000 ballots cast in Jackson County's May 20 primary election counted, political observers had a lot to chew on:

  • A measure to ban GMOs, which drew national attention and set a county record for election expenditures, passed with nearly two-thirds of the vote.
  • Jackson County's library system, which was shut down in 2007 and was again faced with closure, instead got a new lease on life with 54 percent support for a library district and funding measure.
  • Urban and rural voters alike stepped to its defense, with 75 percent agreeing to establish an agricultural district that would fund operations at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center.
  • In the hotly-contested race for Jackson County sheriff, incumbent Sheriff Mike Winters drew only 30 percent of the vote, while Ashland police Deputy Chief Corey Falls received 46 percent.

They will square off in November, with both eying the 24 percent of the vote captured by the third-place finisher, sheriff's Lt. Bob Sergi.

  • Incumbent Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Adam Peterson could not surpass the 50 percent mark in a three-way race for his seat on the bench and will face David Hoppe, a county deputy district attorney, for the Position 2 judgeship. Peterson had 48 percent of the vote Wednesday to Hoppe's 38 percent. Challenger William Francis had 13 percent.
  • While some more liberal causes such as the GMO ban were successful, Republican voters went with a conservative critic of government in selecting Colleen Roberts for the nomination for Jackson County commissioner's Position 3. Roberts defeated Joel Ockunzzi, receiving 53 percent of the vote.

Voter turnout in the election neared 52 percent, election officials said. That far eclipsed results for the state, which recorded the lowest voter turnout in recent history with just 32.8 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.