In the community, Local government

ELECTION 2022: Candidates make last pitch, urge people to vote

Candidates for Ontario mayor and city council were invited to make a last-minute statement about why they should be elected. Candidates also were asked to speak to voters on a basic question: Why should I vote?

Turnout remains low across Malheur County, but voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to turn in ballots at official drop boxes or at the courthouse to be counted.

The ballot drop boxes:

•Malheur County Courthouse, Vale.

•Ontario Community Library, 388 S.W. 2nd Ave.

•Nyssa City Library, 319 Main St.

•Jordan Valley, across from U.S. Post Office

And mail is still an option.

The official stance of the U.S. Postal Service is to not count on mailed ballots now getting postmarked in time to be counted.

“The primary purpose of cancellation is to ensure that postage cannot be reused, and some categories of postage are pre-cancelled before they enter the mail stream. As a result, situations can occur where the policy is mistakenly not observed, and circumstances can arise that prevent ballots from receiving a legible postmark,” the service said in a statement Monday to the Enterprise. “Thus, the recommendation if you choose to mail your ballot, it should be done a week in advance.”

That means ballots mailed Monday or Tuesday could be postmarked in time but there is no assurance that would happen. The best option if you want to mail your ballot is to take it to your local post office before the close of business on Tuesday.

Meantime, here are responses from candidates to two questions, put in alphabetical order. Susann Mills, Ken Hart and McShane Erlebach, candidates for Ontario city council, didn’t respond.

Why should I vote?

Penny Bakefelt, Ontario council candidate:

Elected officials make many decisions that directly affect your lives. You need to make sure that you have done all you can to assure that the right person is elected. Nearly 30% do not bother to vote; however, if they did, that 30% would determine who is elected to what position. Vote!

Michael Braden, Ontario council candidate:

Voting is both a privilege and responsibility we should not take for granted. It is one of the best ways to affect change in your city in a real, tangible way. 

Debbie Feldon, Ontario mayor candidate:

Please vote. Voting is so crucial. It’s your time to have a say and express yourself.

Riley Hill, Ontario mayor candidate:

If you don’t vote, you do not have the right to complain. 

Eddie Melendrez, Ontario mayor candidate:

Citizens should vote because your vote is your voice. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Why should I vote for you?

Penny Bakefelt, Ontario council candidate:

 I am the one candidate who has demonstrated by my actions – not just by talk – that I have the welfare of our community as my top priority.  I have been involved in forming Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch and the Ontario National Night Out. In addition, I volunteer for Citizens on Patrol, Four Rivers Cultural Center and Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church food pantry plus help the Fire Department with event. I will continue my dedication to our community following the election and will be able to do even more as a member of your city council.

Michael Braden, Ontario council candidate:

My wife and I grew up in Vale and Weiser and chose to settle in Ontario to raise our seven children. Having worked for 13 years as a small business adviser, and being a licensed CPA for nearly 20 years, I have strong connections to the business community. Ontario is our community and I will do my best to see it thrive.

Debbie Feldon, Ontario mayor candidate:

I’m so passionate about doing what is right. I will work hard to provide and maintain our quality of life. I will work hard on restoring the faith in the community with principles and integrity. My vision is to build a future for a brighter tomorrow with common sense solutions with diversity, with integrity and Justice working with our leaders and department heads and the community to keep Ontario a community with abundant offerings and optimal living dedicated to building a healthy and inclusive city.

Riley Hill, Ontario mayor candidate:

They should vote for me because of my experience.  I have experience in finance, experience dealing with city departments in my public life and as a private citizen, experience with development, experience with public agencies at the state and federal levels, extensive experience in many facets of business and governments.  I care about Ontario and want to see it thrive. 

Eddie Melendrez, Ontario mayor candidate:

Citizens should vote for Eddie Melendrez because I have proven leadership when it comes to misconduct from the council dias, mistreatment of city staff from council and Mayor Hill. As your mayor I’d never take my own city to court over a $500 fine. As your mayor I’d do a better job of listening to city staff and citizens to create an Ontario we all can be proud of.