By Chris Collins
Kevin D. Cassidy, a resident of the Rock Creek area near Haines, and Richard McKim of Baker City have been elected to four-year terms on the Baker School Board, according to unofficial results from the Baker County Clerk's Office.
Cassidy received 1,770 votes to defeat challenger Mike Ogan for Position 3. Ogan received 1,324 votes in Tuesday's election.
McKim, one of four candidates for Position 4, received 1,275 votes. Rosemary Abell finished second with 934 votes.
Rick Stout received 555 votes and Karen Spencer was the fourth-place finisher with 343 votes.
Cassidy and McKim will begin their terms in July. Cassidy replaces Jim Longwell, who will complete his two-year term June 30. Longwell chose not to seek re-election.
McKim will replace Lynne Burroughs, board chair, who has served on the board for eight years and also did not run for re-election.
Voter turnout was at 38 percent, with a total of 3,216 of the 8,447 registered voters casting their ballots, according to the County Clerk's Office.
Cassidy, 42, is a contracting officer for the Oregon Department of Transportation. He was out picking up campaign signs placed around the community during a telephone interview this morning.
Cassidy attended the school board and budget committee meetings Tuesday night along with Ogan, McKim and Abell, who serves on the district's budget committee.
"I'm still kind of digesting that," Cassidy said of his win in Tuesday's election. "I am honored, first and foremost.
"I'm looking forward to working with the new board, hopefully in a positive direction," he said.
Cassidy said he believes his positive attitude might have contributed to his successful campaign.
He said he was surprised by some of the letters to the editor and controversy generated around Ogan and McKim, who promoted each other through ads during the campaign as "the right choice for 5J School Board."
Democrats in the community raised concerns about the Republican Central Committee's endorsement of the two men for a nonpartisan race.
"I guess that's just politics," Cassidy said. "I had to have pause and not get engaged in that."
Throughout the campaign, it was clear to him, however, that all candidates had the district's best interests in mind when they chose to run for the board.
"We all do care about this community," he said. "We love to live here.
"And with that we can present what our business is in a respectful and positive way, whether our message is difficult or not."
Ogan expressed support for both Cassidy and McKim in response to the election outcome.
"I do just want to wish Kevin and Richard the best of luck," he said. "I hope they move forward and bring this district into a positive thing instead of such a negative thing.
"Kevin is an outstanding individual and I think he'll do a great job," Ogan said.
The 48-year-old Ogan added that he will step back from his involvement with the district for a time to let Cassidy and McKim begin their work. He would consider becoming involved again later if he could be of help, he said.
McKim, 47, an assistant professor of military science at Eastern Oregon University, said this morning from his office in La Grande that he is eager to get to work on the board.
"It's for the kids," he said. "Let's have some unity of effort."
McKim said he will work to improve the school district and people should not be concerned because "the big bad boogeyman" got elected. He was referring to letters to the editor opposing him and Ogan during the campaign.
"Nobody who works with or for the school district is a bad person," he said. "Everyone has the same end state in mind - a good school district.
"Nobody's an ogre, everybody wants the same thing."