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Newberg school board recall election concludes tonight

Ballots are due Tuesday in the dual recall election for Brian Shannon and Dave Brown, although the results may not be finalized for days.

NEWBERG, Ore. — Ballots are due tonight for the Newberg School District's special election, in which voters will decide whether to recall Newberg School Board Chair Dave Brown and Vice-chair Brian Shannon.

Ballots must be postmarked by Jan. 18 or dropped off by 8 p.m. tonight, when the drop sites close. At this point it's too late for ballots to be postmarked Jan. 18, Yamhill County Clerk Brian Van Bergen noted late Tuesday afternoon, so anyone voting Tuesday evening should head for a drop box.

Approximately 26,000 voters live in the Newberg School District and are eligible to cast ballots. The vast majority of them are Yamhill County residents, but about 600 live in Washington County and about 300 in Clackamas County, according to Van Bergen.

Results for Yamhill County will be posted on the Yamhill County Elections webpage starting just after 8 p.m., with updates in the coming days as officials count mailed ballots and resolve signature issues. It may take up to 21 days for the results to be officially certified.

In Yamhill County, 12,164 ballots had been cast and accepted as of 12:28 p.m. Tuesday, according to the county clerk's office, indicating a turnout of 48.2% — already far higher than the 24.15% turnout when Shannon, Brown and board members Ines Peña and Brandy Penner won office in 2019.

Turnout among registered Republicans was 4,752 or 59%, and among Democrats, 3,975 or 56.6% as of 12:28 p.m. Friday. Nonaffiliated voter turnout was at 2,570 or 31.1%, and other party voter turnout was at 867 or 45.4%.

RELATED: Oregon ballots could be mailed on Election Day under bill headed to Gov. Brown

Where to vote

Yamhill County has 12 ballot drop sites open for the recall election, and Clackamas County has one drop box at Wilsonville City Hall, 29799 Town Center Loop E. 

District residents in Washington County will need to use one of the Yamhill County drop boxes, according to staff at the Washington County elections office.

Yamhill County drop box locations:

  • Carlton City Hall, 191 E Main Street, Carlton
  • Lafayette City Hall, 486 3rd Street (99W), Lafayette
  • McMinnville Library, 225 NW Adams Street, McMinnville
  • Dundee City Hall, 620 SW 5th Street, Dundee
  • Chemeketa - Mac Campus, 288 NE Norton Lane, McMinnville
  • County Clerk’s Office (outside front door and inside lobby), 414 NE Evans Street, McMinnville
  • Courthouse (inside lobby), 535 NE 5th Street, McMinnville
  • Courthouse Drive-Through Drop Box, East end of Courthouse Parking Lot, Enter on 5th and Ford Streets, McMinnville
  • Jaquith Park - West, 1215 N Main Street, Newberg
  • Public Safety Parking Lot, 414 E 3rd Street, Newberg 
  • PCC - Newberg Center, Parking Lot 135, Werth Boulevard, Newberg
  • Yamhill City Hall, 205 S Maple Street, Yamhill

Recall campaigns

The Newberg school board has made headlines numerous times in the past six months due to a series of 4-3 votes on controversial policy decisions, and the recall race has generated significant public attention.

Brown and Shannon comprise one half of the seven-member board's conservative majority, which voted in August to ban teachers from displaying Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride signs on district school campuses. The policy was later replaced with a ban on all political displays.

The policies generated significant public pushback, including a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Oregon in December. The board also made headlines in November when it abruptly fired former Newberg Superintendent Joe Morelock without cause.

The recall campaign leaders have also alleged that Brown and Shannon violated public meeting laws by holding partial board meetings in private and hiring an outside attorney before giving the full board a chance to vote on it.

RELATED: Decision to fire Joe Morelock was a late update to the Newberg school board agenda

Brown and Shannon have described the political display ban as an effort to maintain a politically neutral learning environment in schools.

Recall proponents "have misrepresented a Board-approved policy which simply ensures that teachers cannot abuse their position of trust to push their own political views on students while performing their official duties," Shannon wrote in a statement for the ballot.

Brown also defended the ban in a recent interview with KGW, calling accusations of systemic racism in the district "overblown" and said he thought the recall campaigns were a waste of taxpayer money.

"The recalls are totally from the other side, they shouldn't have done it," he said. "I think elections speak for themselves and that we should stand by elections."

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