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Toyooka, Bangs easily win County Commission seats

Courtney Bangs
By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, May 21, 2020

Clatsop County Commission will have two new board members in January after newcomers John Toyooka and Courtney Bangs beat incumbents Sarah Nebeker and Kathleen Sullivan.

A five-year tax levy for the Clatsop County Fairgrounds also was approved.

Toyooka, 59, manager of Lum’s Auto Center, took 60 percent of the vote from Nebeker in the District 2 race.

What resonated with voters?

“Hopefully it was the message that I wanted to unify, to take partisan politics out of the mix and work toward the benefit of everyone,” Toyooka said. “That’s the goal: to make us all one county.”

He called Nebeker “a wonderful person” and thanked her for her eight years of service on the commission.

Nebeker, who has been on the commission since 2012 and was last year’s chair, serves on the Clatsop County Arts Council, the Columbia River Estuary Task Force and the Human Services Advisory Council.

Bangs, 41, who helps run her family’s tree farm in the Knappa area, received 63 percent of the vote against Kathleen Sullivan for the District 4 seat.

“What I feel like has been a trend in political forums across the state is that voters want to be heard,” Bangs said. “I feel like, this last year, … that decisions were being made that we really didn’t want to be made.”

People want representatives who are an extension of themselves, she said.

“I really appreciate Kathleen and her service,” she added. “As I’ve gone through this process, I’ve come to realize how much heart and mind and time is dedicated to the community through these volunteer positions. I really feel like we should honor and respect that. She’s definitely service-oriented and I’m grateful for her service.”

Sullivan, who will serve along with Nebeker until January, congratulated her opponent and vowed to help with the transition “every way I am able.”

She is the commission’s chair and serves on the NW Senior and Disability Services board. She also was on the committee that helped get a 17-mile stretch of the Nehalem River declared a scenic waterway.

“I am honored to have been given the opportunity to serve,” Sullivan wrote in a statement. “After my term as county commissioner ends, I will stay involved with the many important issues challenging all of us. I love this special part of the world. It is my home.”

The Clatsop County Clerk and Elections Department had counted all ballots from the May 19 election by Wednesday morning.

More than 14,200 votes were cast countywide – a 48 percent voter turnout – including 13,108 votes cast in the county fair tax levy, 2,974 votes in the District 2 race and 2,716 in the District 4 race.

The only ballots not included in the totals are 384 ballots that have been challenged or dropped off in other counties.


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