With election day coming up this Tuesday, Cannon Beach voters will have to consider a Clatsop County jail bond, a county-wide marijuana tax, the Fire Chief levy and two City Council seats.
Here’s a quick overview of what’s on the ballot:
Two seats on the City Council and the mayor’s seat will be on the ballot. The mayor’s race is uncontested, with incumbent Sam Steidel seeking re-election.
On the council, incumbent Mike Benefield, real estate agent Robin Risley, and hotelier and Cannon Beach Chamber board president Greg Swedenborg are vying for two council seats currently held by Benefield and George Vetter in the November election. Benefield served four years on the Planning Commission before being appointed to the council in 2013. He was elected in 2014, largely on a platform to push for more affordable housing. If re-elected, Benefield said developing more long-term housing would remain a priority.
Over the course of three decades, Risley has served on several boards and committees, including the Cannon Beach and Clatsop County planning commissions, the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission and Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce board. She was also appointed the president of the Clatsop Association of Realtors last year. If elected, Risley would work on finding solutions for the Cannon Beach Elementary School property, rebuilding City Hall and other capital projects on the city’s plate. Priorities for Risley are bolstering the arts, as well as preserving the character of Cannon Beach for both full-time residents and tourists.
A Cannon Beach native and co-owner of The Waves Oceanfront Lodging, Swedenborg decided to run after feeling the business community and working families needed a stronger voice. If elected, Swedenborg would focus on promoting sustainable tourism, affordable housing and addressing parking issues. He advocates for more private and public cooperation to address the affordable housing shortage, like supporting tax rebates, providing land at a lower cost to those intending to build affordable homes or other solutions that don’t involve the city being a landlord.
Voters will be asked to renew a five-year fire chief levy for the Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District. The levy covers the chief’s salary, vehicles, administrative costs and supplies, Voters originally voted 67 percent to 32 percent in favor of the levy during the Special Election in September, but it failed due to low voter turnout. It will go up to 19 cents per thousand of assessed property up from an average 14 cents voted in five years ago. With the new rate, a homeowner would pay $19 a year on a $100,000 house. Earlier in the year, the board indicated an intention to keep the levy rate the same out of fear that voters would have “tax fatigue” from multiple levies and bonds coming on the ballot in November, but decided an increase was needed to cover growing costs. Between 2019 to 2024, the levy is estimated to bring the district about $1.2 million over five years. The last levy brought in approximately $700,000 over five years.
County Marijuana Tax: Clatsop County voters will decide on the general-election ballot in November whether to place a 3 percent tax on recreational marijuana. Revenue from the handful of dispensaries outside city limits would be about $50,000 annually, county staff estimates.
The state ballot measure in 2014 that legalized marijuana sales gave cities and counties the ability to impose a tax of up to 3 percent if approved by voters in a general election. No recreational dispensaries existed outside city limits in 2016, the most recent general election. The tax would be effective 30 days after voter approval.
Voters will decide on the general-election ballot whether or not to support a $20 million bond to relocate the Clatsop County Jail from Astoria to Warrenton. If the bond is approved, the county would relocate the jail from Duane Street in Astoria to the former North Coast Youth Correctional Facility. Jail capacity would rise from 60 inmates to 148 with room for future expansion.