Ron Jacobs won the Republican primary race this week, beating Jim Mendiola and incumbent Larry Wilson. (The Enterprise/File).

VALE – Former state water master Ron Jacobs will move on to the November general election after he clinched the top slot Tuesday in the Malheur County GOP primary election

Final, unofficial results released Wednesday night showed Jacobs won the race with 1,446 votes – or 38% of total votes – while fellow candidate Jim Mendiola finished the election with 1,342 votes, or 35%. Incumbent Larry Wilson collected 990 votes, or 26%.

Just 104 votes separated Jacobs from Mendiola.

“I thought it would be close,” said Jacobs.

Despite the loss, Mendiola said he was “pretty happy with it.”

“We didn’t win but we didn’t lose,” said Mendiola.

Mendiola, a local contractor and past president of the Vale 4th of July Rodeo, said he might consider running for another position in the future.

“I have to pick up my signs anyway so might as well save them,” he said.

Wilson did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday morning.  

Jacobs, who retired as the county water master in April, will face Democrat Byron Shock in the November general election.

“I am honored for the people that voted for me and that I was able to win the election. I recognize I have to go through the general election now and I just have a lot of work to do to get caught up on issues,” said Jacobs.

The final results of the primary election were delayed through Wednesday because of a technical glitch with a machine that counts votes in the Malheur County Clerk’s Office.

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.

 News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]   

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CONTINUING FREE SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

SUBSCRIBE - $5 a month, automatically.

DONATE - to provide additional support. You can also mail a check: Malheur Enterprise, PO Box 310 Vale OR 97918. Donor identities are confidential unless the donor specifies otherwise. Thank you!