Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Jayson Jacoby


Baker County voters will have a second chance this fall to choose the chairman of the Baker County Board of Commissioners, and this time it will be a two-man race.

Tuesday’s primary wasn’t decisive because none of the three candidates received more than half the votes cast.

The top two — incumbent Bill Harvey and Bruce Nichols, who holds one of the two part-time commissioner positions — will compete in the Nov. 6 general election.

Harvey, who received 92 more votes than Nichols in unofficial results, said he expected the primary would result in a runoff.

“This is the process we have to work through,” Harvey said.

Nichols, who was elected to a four-year term as a commissioner in 2016, said he had “high hopes” that he would win more than 50 percent of the votes in the primary and thus win the chairman’s seat outright.

But he said he was disappointed but not surprised by the results.

“Any time you take on an incumbent, it’s difficult,” Nichols said.

He also believes that having a third candidate in the race — Mike Downing received 11 percent of the votes — made it less likely that any of the three would win outright.

Nichols said he doesn’t have a sense of whether people who voted for Downing are more likely to prefer him over Harvey in the Nov. 6 general election.

He speculates that his relatively late entry into the race — too late to have an entry in the voters guide mailed to residents — hurt his campaign as well.

Nichols noted that the timing of the campaign, during the early spring, also coincided with his busiest time as a CPA.

“Not the best time of year to jump into a campaign,” he said.

Nichols said he expects the race in November to close.

“But I do think I’ll win,” he said.

In the Justice of the Peace race, Brent Kerns avoided a runoff by winning slightly more than half the votes cast to defeat Josie Hermann and Raymond Duman.

County Clerk Cindy Carpenter said there are 37 ballots yet to be counted in that race, which isn’t enough to change the outcome.