Unofficial returns show Brown was well ahead of the rest of the field in her race, finishing with 2,820 votes, or 45.73 percent. Empson was second with 1,254 votes for 20.34 percent and John Herzog narrowly behind with 1,164 votes or 18.88 percent. Incumbent Bill Waddle was fourth with 898 or 14.56 percent.
“Oh. Wow. I’m overwhelmed by the support of Curry County, that they put enough faith in me and I know I can live up to their faith,” Brown said. “I’m ready to go be the commissioner they need me to be.”
Brown, who was Curry County’s director of Economic Development until her job was eliminated by current commissioners a year ago, said she felt a lot of positive vibe while campaigning.
“It was exceptional everywhere we go. They’re encouraging. They can’t wait for me to get in and get going. It’s been extremely overwhelming and humbling,” she said.
Empson, who retired to Gold Beach after a 31-year career in the hotel-casino industry, said he was elated over making the runoff.
“I think it went very well. I’m very pleased with my campaign. We came from no one knows me to coming in second behind Susan Brown,” he said. “I’m very pleased.”
La Bonté led the pack in the race for Position 2 with 2,427 votes or 38.70 percent, with Smith second receiving 1,671 votes or 26.64 percent. Leroy Blodgett was third with 919 or 14.65 percent, incumbent George Rhodes fourth with 632 votes for 10.08 percent and Randy Dubbs Dowler fifth with 594 or 9.47 percent.
“I look forward to running a good race with my opponent,” said La Bonté, who previously served two terms as a commissioner. “I thank all the people who supported me. Let’s hope we can bring this county back to where it should be.
“I am going to work harder for Curry County. I may even go up to Salem next week.”
Smith, president of the Port Orford City Council and a member of the Port Orford-Langlois School Board, said he appreciated the support he received.
“I look forward to working with the citizens of Curry County and talking to as many people as I can about the goals. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I know we can do it. It’s going to take all of us,” he said.
La Bonté said she is working with the sheriff to see if there’s a way for the federal government to fund the county jail because of the poverty level and the large amount of government-owned land in the county.
“I’ve had real good response from both Senators Merkley and Wyden. We need to look outside the box for counties with a high poverty rate.”
Smith said he would be working hard the next five months to get the message out to the people of Curry County they can move forward without a tax increase.
“We have a fantastic opportunity ahead of us,” he said. “With all the sustainable natural resources we have, we can use one or more and not have to tax our friends and neighbors. I think the people of Curry County understand that. I look forward to working with all of them in moving Curry County forward to a better place.”
County Assessor Jim Kolen, who had no opponent, was re-elected, as were Curry County Circuit Judge Jesse Margolis and District Attorney Everett Dial.
Other incumbent officers who are unopposed are Sheriff John Bishop, Treasurer Deborah Crumley and County Clerk Reneé Kolen. Kolen said those names will be on the November General Election, since there were not enough candidates to require a primary vote. She said that is because those three offices are constitutional officers, which, by law, must be elected in the November election.