The Bend Metro Park and Recreation District declared victory for its $29 million bond measure Wednesday after a once razor-thin losing margin turned into a 1,239-vote victory.
The Bend park district's measure had losing narrowly in the early returns, with just 152 votes separating the 13,970 no votes and 13,827 yes votes.
But that turned around later, and it was passing by 675 votes in Wednesday morning's vote tally, the last count late Tuesday night, 16,498 yes votes (51 percent) to 15,823 no votes (49 percent).
As of late Wednesday afternoon, with just about all of the ballots counted, there were 18,878 yes votes, or nearly 52 percent, to 17,639 no votes, or over 48 percent.
"We've always known it was going to be a very close race, but we're really pleased with the outcome, and that voters have given us their vote of confidence to move these projects forward," Executive Director Don Horton said.
"We anticipate that over the next three years we'll be able to get a big portion of this project list done and on the ground for the community," he added.
Many Bend voters called into the KTVZ newsroom Wednesday afternoon, asking when the results would be available. And several voters on the streets said they were anxious as well to learn the outcome.
"We've lived here for four years, and we really appreciate all the natural beauty, and it seems like there's already so much of it and taxes are so high," said one voter who did not want the measure to pass.
"Bend is a great outdoor community and I love living here and I use all of the river trails and the bike trails and everything, so I think it would just be great for the city to have more of it, so I voted yes," another voter said.
Here's the park district's news release:
Residents of the Bend Park & Recreation District voted to build upon Bend’s legacy of parks and recreation by passing a $29 million dollar bond measure in the November 6th election. As of this afternoon, returns show a 51% to 48% approval.
“We’re very pleased that district residents saw the value in taking advantage of the rare opportunity of low land prices, low interest rates and available land to fund projects that will be appreciated for many generations to come,” said Don Horton, Bend Park & Recreation District Executive Director. “We respect the responsibility this vote represents and will honor it to the fullest.”
The district will be working diligently to move see these projects forward. The immediate focus will be on land acquisition along the Deschutes River and other time-sensitive projects.
Bend Paddle Trail Alliance president, Will Blount, stated that “We worked hard to pass this Bond. Now we will be working hard to bring key stakeholders together to organize a consolidated capital campaign for the remaining funding in order see the Colorado dam improvements and whitewater recreational enhancements come to be true.”
Bend Park & Recreation District will report regularly to the public on the projects’ status through newsletters and a dedicated section of the district’s Web site.
“We would like to extend our appreciation to the community for their confidence and support of these transformative projects,” stated Scott Wallace, Bend Park & Recreation District Board of Directors. “They will preserve and enhance our community’s best features for people to enjoy today and for future generations.”
Other results: Knopp, Conger, Unger among winners
In other election returns, Knopp, who left his Salem position to devote time to family and knocked off GOP incumbent Chris Telfer in the spring primary, defeated Democrat challenger Geri Hauser 59 to 40 percent in the latest Deschutes County returns for Senate District 27 (but with some 14,000 ballots still left to count countywide).
Meanwhile, Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, won a second two-year term with 56 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Democrat challenger Nathan Hovekamp.
Conger thanked voters for their support and told NewsChannel 21’s Joe Burns his No. 1 priority to get funding for OSU-Cascades growing to a four-year university, making the economy more competitive and PERS reform.
In House District 55, incumbent Republican Mike McLane easily defeated Democrat challenger John Huddle, 68-31 percent, Wednesday's numbers showed, and in Dstrict 59, Republican incumbent John Huffman handily defeated Democrat challenger Garry Ollerenshaw, 67 percent to 33 percent.
Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger, the Democrat incumbent, defeated Republican challenger Tom Greene 53 to 47 percent as of Wednesday morning's count.
Unger told NewsChannel 21 it was a relief to get voters' endorsement for a second term after months of campaigning: "It's good to win."
The race for an open Deschutes County Circuit Court judge seat found Beth Bagley defeating Andy Balyeat, 54 percent to 46 percent.
In Bend City Council races, Victor Chudowsky won a three-way race for the open Position 1 seat with about 39 percent of the vote, to 32 percent for Barb Campbell and 29 percent for Wade Fagen.