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Stark takes big lead in House District 4 race

A former aide to Republican State Rep. Dennis Richardson held a wide lead over his Democratic challenger to fill the Oregon House District 4 seat Richardson vacated to run for governor in this election.

With 56 percent of the vote counted, Republican Duane Stark, 36, an outreach pastor at River Valley Community Church, had garnered 68 percent of the votes in the heavily Republican district, compared with 32 percent for Democratic candidate Darlene Taylor, 68.

In raw numbers, Stark had 9,635 votes to Taylor's 4,545.

Taylor said after the early results that she was "pretty certain" Stark would outdistance her.

"The votes are 2 to 1, and it's pretty much always been that way because there are twice as many registered (Republican) voters," Taylor said. "But I ran because I thought people deserved a choice."

"I'm encouraged by the early results," Stark said after the early returns. "If they continue, I'm excited to be able to represent House District 4."

Taylor spent her career in tech and defense fields and recently served on the Oregon Women's Commission. She campaigned on a platform of job development, affordable education and infrastructure projects as her main priorities.

Stark said his primary legislative focus will be combating big government and streamlining the regulatory process to lure attractive businesses here.

The campaign was the first for both candidates.

District 4 covers northwestern Jackson County and a sliver of eastern Josephine County, where a strong contingent of registered Republicans have a history of electing representatives from that party.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

Duane Stark