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Candidates seeking soil district post.

Byline: Saul Hubbard The Register-Guard

CORRECTION: Jim Evangelista is running a write-in campaign for open seat on the board of the Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District. A story in Friday's City/Region incorrectly spelled Evangelista's last name. When ballots were sent out in Lane County last month, no one had filed for an open seat on the board of the little-known Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District. So the seat is listed on the ballot as empty, with no contenders.

Now, not one but two county residents have filed at the last minute to be official write-in candidates for the post.

Jennifer McRaven, a 37-year-old environmental consultant, will take on Jim Evangelista, who announced his candidacy last week.

McRaven, who lives in the River Road area but outside Eugene city limits, said, like Evangelista, she decided to run after seeing no one on the ballot. An avid supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, McRaven said she was motivated by Sanders' campaign trail urgings to his backers to run for low-level local government offices.

"We can't let these kinds of responsibilities go without representation," she said.

Founded nationally in response to the Dust Bowl calamity of the Great Depression, soil and water protection districts work with private landowners, farmers and other government agencies on protection of natural resources and wildlife habitat. The districts, which receive money from the state, provide financial and technical help to rural landowners to improve river area habitats, improve groundwater quality in areas with high levels of nitrates, and other projects.

The Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District includes most of the rural areas around Eugene and Springfield.

McRaven said she would bring a strong environmentalist perspective to the board. Americans "need to be aware of the domestic threat posed by the environmental terrorism being pursued by some companies," such as Monsanto and some Oregon timber companies, she said. "That (perspective) is where most of Lane County voters are at," she said.

McRaven and Evanlegista are running for one of the soil and water district's at-large seats, where the only eligibility requirements are living anywhere within the district and being a registered voter.

The write-in process for those districts is different from how write-in votes work in most Oregon elections, Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betschart said. Typically, write-in votes are hand-tallied only if the total of write-in votes is higher than that of any of the candidates who filed to run for a position.

But write-in candidates for soil and water districts have to declare their intent to run with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to have their write-in votes individually tallied. The deadline to do so this year was Oct. 25.

Only Evanlegista and McRaven did so, Betschart said, which means only their write-ins will be hand counted.

McRaven said she feels she is more knowledgeable about the issues the district deals with than Evanlegista because of her professional background. "But there's no hard feelings," she added. "I admire that he stepped up for the same reasons that I did."

Follow Saul on Twitter @SaulAHubbard. Email saul.hubbard@registerguard.com.

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Title Annotation:Election 2016
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 4, 2016
Words:519
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