County has contested races for commissioner, sheriff as deadline looms

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe will face Ontario Police Department officer Casey Walker in the May 19 election. (The Enterprise/File photo)

VALE – Only two contested races will be on the local ballot for the May primary but both could quickly heat up as election day draws near.

The two contested races are for a Malheur County commissioner position and Malheur County sheriff. Both are four-year terms.

The county commission race so far will showcase incumbent Larry Wilson against Vale businessman Jim Mendiola. Wilson is a local real estate broker and seeks his third term as a commissioner. Mendiola, a former Vale 4th of July Rodeo Board president, operates Jim Mendiola Gravel Products.

Both men will run on the Republican ticket. The two others on the Malheur County Court Judge Dan Joyce and Commissioner Don Hodge, aren’t up for re-election this year.

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe will face Ontario Police Department officer Casey Walker in the May 19 election.


Wolfe has been sheriff since 2011. Walker, a former Malheur County sheriff’s deputy, ran for sheriff as a write-in candidate in the 2016 election.

Unopposed at this point is Dave Ingram, seeking reelection as Malheur County assessor. Ingram was elected to the two-year, non-partisan position in 2008.

The filing deadline for the county offices is March 10.

The state Elections Division reports that as of January, 16,286 people were registered to vote in Malheur County, up 6% from the 2018 general election.

The biggest surge is among nonaffiliated voters, who now account for 44% of the county’s registered voters. They can’t participate in partisan votes.

The state showed the county had 7,140 nonaffiliated voters in January, up from 6,127 in 2018.

The two major parties both saw declines.

The number of registered Republicans dropped from 6,051 in 2018 to 5,996 in January.

The number of registered Democrats dropped from 2,433 to 2,429.

The last day for new Oregon voters to register to vote for the May 19 primary is Tuesday, April 28.

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