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Voters Turn Down Recall Effort On Cohabiting School Board Members

May 22, 1985

SHERIDAN, Ore. (AP) _ Two school board members targeted in a recall election because they live together but are not married kept their positions when voters decided that performance, not ″your private life,″ is what counts, one of the winners said.

Clinton Ogle, who has been on the Sheridan School Board for nearly seven years, kept his post Tuesday by 343 votes to 293. Sandra Kay Lambert, who lives with Ogle and has been on the board for less than two years, turned back the recall effort 328-312.

″We’re tremendously relieved that it’s over with, and I guess just really satisfied that the voters did support us,″ Ogle, 38, said. ″I think they believe as I did that you should be judged on the basis of your performance, not on the basis of your private life.

″I really believed all along that we would win but you just never know for sure,″ he said, adding that he and Ms. Lambert, 34, will continue living together.

The Rev. Jerry Warren, minister of Sheridan Nazarene Church, organized the recall effort, saying the couple’s living arrangements were inappropriate for school board members and were disapproved of by the community.

In a ballot statement urging Ogle’s ouster, Warren wrote that he had ″failed to respond adequately to the needs of the Sheridan School District and violated accepted community standards for elected school district officials by leaving his wife and family and openly living in an adulterous relationship.″

The statement added that Ogle’s conduct ″is detrimental to the school district and its children and contributes to a confusion of values in the minds of the children ... and to the demoralization of parents and teachers.″

Elections officials said the vote tally was complete except for a few absentee ballots that probably would not change the outcome.

Ogle said he thinks those who organized the recall effort will try to defeat him when he runs for re-election in March 1986. Ms. Lambert doesn’t face re-election until March 1987.

Ogle said he was especially relieved that the stress of the recall election was over because it was making Ms. Lambert ill.

Warren, meanwhile, said, ″I’m disappointed but not depressed. I would have liked to see them out of office but I think we accomplished one major thing. I think we made a fairly accurate statement that 50 percent of our community didn’t approve.″

He said recall supporters haven’t decided whether to challenge Ogle in 1986.

The 32.5 percent voter turnout in this community of 2,375 was heavier than usual, officials said.

Ogle is a mechanic in a plywood mill and Ms. Lambert is a secretary at the mill.

The weekly Sheridan Sun newspaper criticized the recall effort, saying such elections ″should be restricted to specific actions by elected officials that constitute malfeasance in office.″

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