A surge of votes counted early Wednesday morning pushed Republicans Tony DeBone and Patti Adair to apparent victories over their Democratic challengers for the Deschutes County Commission.

Adair, a conservative Republican who chairs the Deschutes County Republican Party, trailed James Cook by three votes at the end of election night. Ballots counted overnight pushed Adair to the lead, and she said Wednesday morning she was excited to get to work when new commissioners are sworn in Jan. 7.

“I have until January,” she said. “I will be gearing up all that I’ve been working on for the past year and a half.”

Adair said she thought she, DeBone and Commissioner Phil Henderson will make a good team. The commission will remain entirely Republican, as it has been since Henderson defeated incumbent Alan Unger in 2016.

“We need people who actually realize whose government it is,” Adair said. “It’s time that we actually look at whose money they’re spending.”

She narrowly defeated longtime Commissioner Tammy Baney in a May primary, then faced a tough challenge in Cook, a moderate Democrat who chairs Redmond’s planning commission.

Cook said Wednesday he never planned to be a politician. He got involved in local government after moving to Redmond several years ago and decided to run for the county commission after seeing Adair challenge Baney.

“I think we offered choices,” Cook said.

His term on the planning commission expires at the end of the year, and he said he’d like to continue his work there. Cook said he’d also like to keep working with people he met while campaigning, and he hopes to work on a ballot initiative in 2020 that would shift the county races to nonpartisan elections.

DeBone, a two-term incumbent and the current chairman of the commission, staved off a close challenge from Amy Lowes, a registered nurse who argued that her health care experience would help the county. Lowes, who recently restored her nursing license, said she’s focused now on finding a new nursing job, but she plans to stay involved in government.

“I’m not going away,” she said.

The first-time candidate congratulated DeBone and said she was proud of the campaign she ran.

“I’m really, really proud of my team and all the work that we did,” Lowes said. “I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything.”

DeBone said he was “honored” to see the results and thought county races showed how divided Deschutes County is. While DeBone and Adair narrowly won their commission races, Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner won the county in the race for the 2nd Congressional District, which was won by incumbent Republican Greg Walden.

“I think it kind of mirrors the state,” he said.

“We have a disparate community, and the fact that people are passionately voting with two sides has changed during my time here.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com

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