One of two union-supported candidates appeared to win a seat on the board of directors for Crook County Fire and Rescue, where a labor dispute has roiled for years.

Newcomer Gary Abrams looked on track to take down incumbent Jim Dean, with 57% of the vote compared to Dean’s 43%.

But the other union-­supported candidate, Beth Mitchell, was losing her three-way race with incumbent Jerry Brummer and retired forester George Ponte.

As of Tuesday night, Brummer had 53% of the vote, compared to Mitchell’s 38% and Ponte’s 10%.

A labor dispute has simmered at Crook County Fire and Rescue since 2017, when its union — the Crook County Firefighters Association — filed a complaint against management with the state Employee Relations Board.

In October, the parties met at a three-day hearing in Prineville before Administrative Law Judge Julie Reading, whose final order sided with the union on two of its three points, and the district on one.

Both sides filed objections to Reading’s order. But as the district considered settling, district board members learned that two days after releasing her final order in the CCFR matter, Reading accepted a position with the law firm that had represented the union — Tedesco Law Group.

District board members were upset with the alleged conflict of interest and passed a resolution directing the district’s attorney to file ethics complaints with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission (against Reading) and with the Oregon State Bar (against Tedesco partner ­Jason Weyand).

In April, union officials decried a 2% pay increase for Chief Matt Smith and passed a vote of no confidence against Smith.

This election, two seats were up on the CCFR board of directors. The union supported a candidate in each, both of whom are career firefighter-EMTs with Redmond Fire Department.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

23260582