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A nail-biter in Medford council race: Ward 3 too close to call, Spansail leads in Ward 1

Chad Miller had a two-vote lead over incumbent Kay Brooks for the Ward 3 Medford City Council race Tuesday night, while Sarah Spansail had a comfortable lead in the Ward 1 race.

When the first returns were released just after 8 p.m., Miller had 33.66%, or 2,197 votes, to Brooks’ 33.62%, or 2,195.

Miller, who was working at the Jackson County Jail Tuesday night, said, “Yeah, it is getting pretty close. I keep getting updates from family and friends.”

Brooks said, “It’s still too close to tell. The votes aren’t going to be completely in for a little bit.”

She referenced the tight 2018 race between incumbent Clay Bearnson and Jim Herndon. Ultimately Bearnson won by 65 votes, enough of a lead to avoid an automatic recount.

Brooks said it could take days before the full vote is in, and at 9 p.m. Tuesday night there were still about 20% of the votes left to count.

In the Ward 3 race, Chad McComas was in third place with 19%, or 1,240 votes, and Don Libby was a distant fourth at 12.94%, or 845 votes.

In Ward 1, Spansail had 37.95%, or 3,272 votes, and her nearest opponent was Curt Ankerberg at 29.28%, or 2,524 votes.

“I’m optimistic,” Spansail said. “I’m a first-time candidate, and I would like it to be official before I say anything.”

Jeff Thomas was in third place at 27.93%, or 2,408 votes, with Rick Schreffler a distant fourth at 4.23%, or 365 votes.

Spansail, who has an environmental background, said housing is one of the biggest issues facing Medford, and she felt her voice would help spark a change for the better in the city.

She said her campaign was boosted by a team of two friends who reached out to the voters in her ward.

“We were a small but mighty team,” she said.

The team did a lot of texting to voters, had billboards and put a mailer out at 5,300 doors.

She said her team also did a lot of last-minute door hangers to those who hadn’t voted yet.

Spansail said she supports local efforts to get shelters for the homeless and hopes that those efforts could be expanded, particularly for those struggling through mental health or addiction problems. She said her first mother struggled with substance abuse.

Spansail said social service organizations need to expand to offer those struggling with mental health or addiction issues.

In Medford, she said, a large portion of the population is near the poverty level, which puts them in a precarious position as they look for housing or trying to retain housing.

She said the home ownership rate in Medford is 13% below the national average.

The Medford Housing Commission found that 30% of residents are paying 50% of their income toward rent, she said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.

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