Cars rolled up to the white ballot box at Brookings City Hall last night – scant minutes before the polls closed.
And by the end of the night, the County Clerk and Elections office determined that the two open county commissioner seats will be occupied by Susan Brown and David Brock Smith. The elections results are not yet official.
Susan Brown beat out Greg Empson by a vote of 5,969 to 3,389; Smith defeated Lucie La Bonté by a 5,849 to 4,344 margin, as of the Curry Coastal Pilot deadline.
“I’m real excited; I’m ready to get started and get working for the county, for the people of the county,” Brown said. “I’m real excited about putting plans together and working toward a future for Curry County.
“We’re ready to go,” she added. “I wish we could start tomorrow. It’ll be hard to wait until January. I’m elected and I can’t start working yet?”
She said she was excited to see Smith win, as well.
“I appreciate all the support and the faith in my ability to get the job done for the citizens of Curry County,” Smith said. “I will work hard for them, and I will not let them down.”
La Bonté sent her congratulations to the winners.
“I wish them the best of luck,” she said. “And thanks to all my supporters for all their votes and Eric Bryant, my treasurer, for all his hard work.”
“The people have spoken,” Empson said. “And congratulations to Susan Brown.”
In the city’s mayoral race, incumbent Ron Hedenskog beat Bruce Ellis, 1,449 to 770.
“I don’t consider it a loss at all,” Ellis said. “It was great; it was fun. It got people involved, got people thinking, talking. It got people moving. That’s the beauty of this thing. It’s a win-win situation for the town.”
“It’s always nice to know that the people – the citizens – put you in this seat,” Hedenskog replied. “Let’s get to work. That’s what we came here for.”
In Gold Beach, James Wernicke lost the mayor’s seat to Karl Popoff, 412 to 452.
The Republicans were either scattered throughout town or at home watching the returns, as the windows were dark at their headquarters in Brookings at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s not true!” Vi Burton screamed when she answered her phone at home during a party for the Republicans. “Four more years of Barack Obama. We feel this was an election of Socialism versus freedom. We’re losing a lot of our freedom, and a lot more freedoms are going to go bye-bye under this guy. We were hoping this would be a joyful party tonight, and now we’re all ready to vomit.”
Locally, she holds out – a little – more hope.
“Our county. … We have a lot of work to do. We’re almost broke. It’ll probably be fine. We have a lot of issues to deal with, as does our country. We’re fearful for our nation.”
“I can’t believe people voted for him again after what has happened in the past four years,” said Jane Turner, in attendance at the party. “I think of those horses with blinders on.”
Spirits were high at the Democratic headquarters in Brookings, where about 50 people milled about, watching TV and computer screens and groaning or cheering with each new announcement in the national polls.
“I really think we need four more years (of Barack Obama),” said Linda Bozack of Brookings. “But it’s fun to watch all the results come in.”
“I’m hopeful,” said Bev Taylor of Gold Beach. “It’s very scary. But so far things are looking good.”
For Liz Dougherty of Brookings, the event was a double-edged experience.
“I was a little nervous,” she said. “If Romney wins, I’m not going to have a lot of faith in my country anymore.”
And on the other hand, it was her first presidential election.
“I’m pretty excited about that,” she said. “I count now. I matter as a person.”