PORTLAND, Ore. — Voters in Oregon approved two-thirds of the school bonds on ballots in communities statewide, mostly gave the thumbs up to spending on public safety and libraries and rejected a measure that would have blocked a natural gas export pipeline in the southwestern corner of the state.
Voter turnout was just over 19 percent of all registered voters, according to state elections officials.
A total of 10 school bonds across Oregon, from Jefferson to Bend to Lake Oswego, passed while four failed and one appeared poised to fail with 200 ballots still under review.
Twenty-two ballots separated the no vote from the yes vote in Coos County, a rural coastal county in southwestern Oregon, said Dede Murphy, the county elections clerk there.
The school bond measures approved Tuesday included a $790 million spending package in Portland that is the largest school bond in the state. It’s intended to remove lead from school drinking water after a health crisis last summer and modernize aging infrastructure.
In southwestern Oregon, Coos County voters also rejected a ballot measure that would have blocked a $7.5 million natural gas export terminal and pipeline.
The Jordan Cove LNG project envisions a 230-mile (370 kilometer) pipeline running from Malin, a town on the California border, to Coos Bay.
The measure would have banned the transportation of fossil fuels within the county that weren’t intended for local use.
Jordan Cove and its parent company, Calgary-based Veresen Inc., have spent more than a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to win approval for the project.
Federal regulators rejected their application last year, but the company reapplied in January hoping that a fossil-fuel friendly President Donald Trump administration could help them get a green light.
Jordan Cove spent an unprecedented $600,000 on the campaign to defeat the ballot measure, with television, radio and newspaper ads against the initiative.
In an effort to win over the county’s 41,000 registered voters, they spent 50 times as much as the yes campaign’s $12,000.
In nearby Josephine County — known for rejecting new taxes — voters surprised pollsters by approving spending for jails, renewing a tax for the animal shelter and approving a special tax district to restore limited public funding to the library system.
Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel had said the sheriff’s department would end county patrols without the levy. Now, the department will be able to keep 185 jail beds open, add patrol deputies in rural areas and reopen beds in the defunct juvenile detention center.
In Salem, a $61.8 million bond measure to build a new police facility passed and in Pendleton, voters overwhelmingly supported a $10 million bond to build a new fire station. Sheridan voters approved a continuation of a fire district tax.
But in Astoria, along the northern coast, voters appear to have narrowly rejected a bond measure to finance improvements at the Astoria Regional Airport. The measure had broad support among Clatsop County’s leadership and its failure is a blow to the Port of Astoria’s plans for future development, The Daily Astorian reported (http://bit.ly/2rfYbF3 ).
The newspaper says 145 ballots separated the no vote from the yes vote.
School bonds did not pass in Ontario, South Umpqua, Yoncalla and Hermiston.
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