Wilson, county commissioner overseeing rail project, appears to be losing bid for re-election

Larry Wilson, incumbent Malheur County commissioner, trails behind his two challengers in the latest vote tally. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

VALE – Larry Wilson’s tenure as a Malheur County commissioner appears headed for an end over following Tuesday’s primary election.

Unofficial results reported late Wednesday afternoon showed Wilson, the Republican incumbent, far behind the two challengers for his seat.

The latest unofficial vote tally shows challenger Ron Jacobs out in front with 1,281 votes, or 37% of total votes, while Jim Mendiola stood at 1,204 votes, or 35%. Wilson trailed with 890 votes, about 26%.

The race for the commissioner position was the only local contested race on the primary ballot. County Judge Dan Joyce and Commissioner Don Hodge, who along with Wilson make up the Malheur County Court, weren’t up for re-election.

Wilson, a local real estate agent, has served as Malheur County commissioner since 2013. He also serves on the board of the Malheur Memorial Health District in Nyssa and served about 12 years on the county planning commission.

Wilson has been a vocal supporter of a $26 million rail reload facility north of Nyssa. Completion of the project was to be his highest priority if re-elected.

He was in a three-way race in the 2012 primary when he ran for county commissioner. He won that nomination with 1,708 votes, defeating Lynn Findley, now a state senator, who had 1,681 votes, and Brent Hasler, who had 331 votes. Wilson won handily in the general election that year, beating Democrat Linda Simmons 6,131-3,265.

He was unopposed in 2016, winning a second term as a part-time paid commissioner.

Jacobs is the former county water master.

Mendiola is a local contractor and past president of the Vale 4th of July Rodeo.

The winner of the Republican race will take on Democrat Byron Shock in the November general election.

Results from the election were delayed Wednesday after the clerk’s office worked to fix technical issues with one of its ballot counting machines.

Final, unofficial results will be issued later Wednesday or early Thursday morning.


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