In the community, Local government

Folden wins Ontario mayor race with incumbent Hill finishing third

Ontario is getting a new mayor as businesswoman Debbie Folden beat Eddie Mellendrez and Riley Hill in results posted by the Malheur County Clerk’s Office.

Folden had 1,124 votes to 960 for Melendrez, a councilman and also an Ontario School Board member. Hill, an Ontario develolper in his first term as mayor, trailed with 773 votes.

Folden, who established Advantage Financial Credit Service in 1994, moved with her family to Ontario in 1969 and she graduated from Ontario High School. She has no prior public service.

Debbie Folden, candidate for Ontario mayor, speaks at a forum on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Treasure Valley Community College. The forum was produced by the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce and the Malheur Enterprise. (ANGIE SILLONIS/Special to the Enterprise)

In the race for three city council seats, incumbents Ken Hart and Susann Mills won new terms while Penny Bakefelt appears to have enough votes to join them, edging out incumbent Michael Braden.

The top three finishers among the five candidates will get the seats. The vote counts were Bakefelt 1,464, Hart 1,454, Mills 1,435, Braden 1,404 and challenger McShane Erlebach 961.

Mellendrez will continue as a council member. Incumbents John Kirby and Sam Baker were not up for election this year.

For Malheur County, the Ontario races drew the most local attention, but other cities also elected councilors. In most instances, candidates won easily.


In Nyssa, seven people were competing for four council seats. One of four incumbents appear to lose. The late results showed:

•Betty Holcomb, incumbent and current mayor, 407.

•Morganne DeLeon, incumbent, 335.

­•Pat Oliver, incumbent, 332.

­•Juan Ramos, 300.

•Ron Edmondson, incumbent, 238

•Mark Shuster, 230


In Vale, three candidates were running for three seats on the Vale City Council. Christine Phillips had 417 votes, Jeremiah Storhmeyer 395 and Monty Bixby 384. Mayor Tom Vialpando was running unopposed for a second term.


In Adrian, three candidates were running for three seats. Carlos Mendoza had 43, Tom Pierce had 38 and Karen Olsen had 36.


Council candidates Mary Aguila and Michael White were unopposed for two seats and no candidate filed for a third council position. Election results showed there were 22 write-in votes for that seat.

Vale businessman Jim Mendiola was the lone candidate for Malheur County commissioner after he defeated incumbent Don Hodge in May.

Malheur County Treasurer Jennifer Forsyth and Malheur County Clerk Gayle Trotter will get new terms as they ran unopposed.

Ballot measures in Malheur County and in Ontario, Vale, Nyssa, Jordan Valley and Adrian that would ban psilocybin operations were all passing by significant margins.

State Rep. Mark Owens, a Republican farmer from Crane who represents Malheur County, easily won re-election as did U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon.

In the governor’s race, Malheur County voters were heavily favoring Republican Christine Drazan. She had 6,854 votes to 1,627 for Democrat Tina Kotek and 464 for Betsy Johnson, running as an unaffiliated candidate.

Statewide, the race for governor was too close to call early Wednesday. Kotek had 660,658 votes, or 45.7%, to 644,901 or 44.6% for Drazan. Johnson trailed with 127,367 votes or 8.8%

On state ballot measures, Malheur County voters appeared to be in step with voters statewide in rejecting Measure 111, which would ensure health care access, and supporting Measure 113, intended to step legislators from walking out during a session. Malheur County voters diverged from the statewide vote in rejecting Measure 114, which created new gun restrictions, and Measure 112, which removes slavery provisions from the Oregon Constitution.

Contact Editor Les Zaitz by email at [email protected].

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