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Close race expected for Columbia County Commission Position 2

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After the May primary resulted in a mandatory recount, the race for Position 2 on the Columbia County Commission position will be settled next month.

Incumbent Henry Heimuller, who is seeking a second term, was the narrow-margin winner in May. He collected 5,394 votes to 5,360 votes for Wayne Mayo of St. Helens, who will be Heimuller’s opponent in the November rematch. Mayo was one of two candidates defeated by Heimuller when he first won election in 2010.

Heimuller, also of St. Helens, is running without party affiliation this year after filing as a Democrat in previous elections.

If re-elected, Heimuller says he will bring more “family wage” jobs to the county, improve public safety and secure stable funding for public transit systems.

Heimuller was a supporter of the $7 million Columbia County Jail levy approved by county voters in May that allowed the county’s jail, which was on the verge of being closed for financial reasons, to continue to operate.

He also supports the $15 million bond measure proposed by Columbia River Fire & Rescue which will provide improved fire and ambulance services to the area. The fire bond fell just short of passage in May and supporters think they can do better in November without the jail levy on the ballot.

“Even though it’s a big ask and nobody likes to pass more taxes, I feel it’s necessary,” Heimuller said of the measure.

Heimuller also supports expansion of Port Westward and said he considers safety issues related to the shipment of oil through the county on rail cars to be one of the central issues in the campaign.

Mayo, a general contractor, is known for leading the push to pass a 2008 ballot measure that called for $10,000 fines for county employers who knowingly hired workers who were in the country illegally. Voters approved. but the law was struck down by a Circuit Court judge in 2009.

While Heimuller said he agrees the United States needs secure borders, he said he disagreed with Mayo’s initiative, which he thought was too severe.

“Do we discriminate against migrant workers because they are illegal or because they come here to work? No,” he said, adding that undocumented workers should have a legal way to pursue citizenship.

“You don’t look down your nose on another race or religion. People are people,” he said.

Mayo declined requests from The Daily News for additional details on his background and positions and did not respond to interview requests for this story.

Meet the Candidates

Henry Heimuller

  • Age: 54
  • City of residence: St. Helens
  • Education: Paramedic school graduate, Willamette University Transit Management Program, Oregon State University County College Graduate certificate with honors (2011)
  • Occupation: Columbia County Commissioner (Position 2)
  • Personal: His family includes wife Pamela and one child
  • Civic and political experience: Columbia County 911 Communications District board of directors (six terms); Columbia County Fair Board (two terms); State of Oregon Public Transportation Advisory Council and numerous other county clubs and service organizations.

Wayne Mayo

  • Age: Not provided
  • City of Residence: St. Helens
  • Education: Portland Community College and Portland State University. Received degrees in economics from both
  • Occupation: Contractor
  • Personal: Married with eight children.
  • Civic and political experience: Mayo was a county planning commissioner and parks and recreation commissioner during the 1980s


Shira Moskowitz covers Kelso city government, local social services and Columbia County (Ore.) for The Daily News. Reach her at 360-577-2542 or


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