EUGENE, Ore. — The voter turnout so far this year is very similar to the last time a public safety measure was on the ballot.
In 2007, Lane County voters struck down a public safety levy; 71 percent of registered voters said no. Supporters of Measure 20-213 are confident this election will bring a different result.
Supporters of the measure are behind a media campaign, rolling out commercials, radio spots, billboards and mailers to drum up yes votes for Lane County’s public safety levy.
Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner is an advocate for the 5-year levy. The sheriff’s office experienced a $10 million reduction this budget year and federal and state money is running out.
“If not completely exhausting, they’re close to running out. And so we are running on 1990 money or less,” Sheriff Tom Turner said. “The fact that we are holding so few offenders here in a county that’s big, 350,000 people, we need this help.”
If approved, the measure would fund a minimum of 255 jail beds, which would keep violent criminals and sex offenders behind bars. It would also provide additional services and treatment for juvenile youth offenders.
For Lane County homeowners, a yes vote means a tax; 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The average homeowner would pay about $85 a year.
It’s not enough to bring back all services or fund the jail entirely, but it’s enough to address key issues of public safety.
“And so this is a minimum, and if everything goes right and we get some breaks, we can provide more,” Sheriff Turner said.
Sheriff Turner says measure 20-213 is receiving support and significant financial backing.
The Oregon Secretary of State says since March, there have been 157 donations totaling close to $173,000.
“It feels good, it feels like we tried really hard and we got the information out there and we are hoping for some extremely positive results,” Sheriff Turner said.