The Jackson County electorate appears to have joined the red tidal wave washing across the nation when it came to filling two county Board of Commission seats.

The Jackson County electorate appears to have joined the red tidal wave washing across the nation when it came to filling two county Board of Commission seats.

In preliminary returns, Republican Don Skundrick was leading Democrat Jeff Golden by 31,643 votes to 23,258 — 57.5 percent to 42.3 percent — for the post now held by Republican Jack Walker.

And Republican John Rachor was ahead of Democrat Mark Wisnovsky with 29,771 votes to 24,156 — 55.1 percent to 44.7 percent — in the race for the post now held by Dave Gilmour, a Democrat who is not running for re-election.

The vote totals released at about 10:30 p.m. represented just over 49 percent of the county's registered voters. County election officials said they still believed the final turnout would be close to 70 percent.

"If things keep up this way, I'm extremely humbled and gratified," Skundrick said of the early returns. "Now the hard work begins."

But Skundrick, a retired Knife River Co. executive living in Medford, remained cautious.

"So far it looks pretty good but I don't want to declare anything yet — not until all the votes are in," added Skundrick, who unseated GOP incumbent Walker in the primary.

Nor was Rachor, a Central Point resident and former owner of eight Burger King franchises, ready to claim victory. He also wanted to wait for the final numbers.

"We ran a really a good, clean race and Mark has become a good friend of mine," Rachor said, adding, "We just have a difference on land use issues.

"I have a lot of respect for Mark," he added. "It felt like we were working together. We were both very ethical with the other. We never got into negative campaigning. I appreciate that."

Jacksonville resident Wisnovsky, owner of Valley View Winery, said that while he wasn't ready to concede, he agreed with his opponent's assessment of the race.

"I was proud to have him as an opponent," Wisnovsky said. "We showed we could have a well-run race that focused on the issues.

"I did what I wanted to do," he added. "My goals were to be able to run on the issues. Regardless of what happens, I gave it my best shot."

Noting that he campaigned while running a business and maintaining his role as a husband and father, Wisnovsky called it a good experience.

"Win or lose, I feel we need to have people step forward to run for office and discuss the issues in a positive way," he said. "I think we did that in this race."

Golden, a former county commissioner, writer and radio talk show host, said he, too, felt good about the race. Although he noted it would be difficult to overcome the vote deficit, he also declined to concede until more numbers came in.

"But I am so glad I got to run this campaign," he said. "It is really a privilege to get out and put forth your ideas and visions, and have in-depth conversations with people on how to prepare for the future.

Although noting he was going to take a break following the long campaign, he said he remained committed to helping local residents work together to prepare for the future.

"One reason I got into this was because I believe we have to become more self reliant as a community," he said. "I leave this campaign just as clear that we have to do that."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.