One recount remains, but election results portend SKPS sweep

It appears that progressive candidates swept recent elections to the Salem-Keizer School Board in May.

One race, in Zone 3, will head to an automatic recount because of the narrow margin – 73 votes – separating candidates Ashley Carson-Cottingham and Linda Farrington. Zone 3 represents South Salem in district decisions. Election officials told Salem Reporter a recount rarely results in changing the outcome. The tallies are still unofficial until certification occurs, the deadline is July 7. The Marion County Clerk’s Office issued updated vote totals on Wednesday, June 2.

The outcome of the election represents a sea change for the Salem-Keizer School board, which will have its first three Latino members sworn-in in July.

In Zone 1, Osvaldo Avila won a four-way race with 45% of the vote. His closest competitor, Kari Zohner, amassed a bit less than 41%.

In Zone 5, Karina Guzman Ortiz edged out Mike Slagle by 321 votes. The incumbent, Jesse Lippold Peone finished a distant third. In Zone 7, Maria Hinojos Pressey finished nearly 1,000 votes ahead of Liam Collins.

The elections were seen by many as a contest between liberal and conservative agendas. The conservative slate was backed by the Marion+Polk First political action committee (PAC) and two that were fortified by the Oregon Right to Life PAC.

Voter turnout for the May election was an anemic 26.6%, but still higher than the level of participation in the 2019 off-year election.