Grant County bond election to fund new public pool goes down to the wire

By Antonio Sierra (OPB)
June 2, 2022 12:20 a.m.

The fate of a bond to build a new pool in John Day is tied to the results of more than a dozen challenged ballots

More than two weeks after Election Day, Grant County has one of the elections that’s still undecided in the state.

The John Day/Canyon City Parks and Recreation District is asking voters to approve a $4 million bond measure to build a new public pool in John Day. As of Wednesday, only six votes separate yes and no.


Six votes represents a widening gap in an extremely close call on the measure. The question was tied at one point on election night before votes against the bond took a three-vote lead in the following days.

After the county counted all the votes that were postmarked on Election Day, the “no” vote doubled its advantage. The count stands at 792 yes to 798 no.

Grant County Clerk Brenda Percy said the election still isn’t over. Percy’s office determined that there are 16 ballots from voters within the parks and recreation district with signatures that don’t match the signatures the county has on file.

The county has notified the affected voters of the signature challenge. Those voters will have until June 7 to confirm their identity with the clerk’s office or their votes will not be counted.


The results of the challenged ballots could potentially swing the election in favor of the pool bond. But Percy said she hasn’t received pressure from the community about the process or the results.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve had any frustration,” she said. “I have had constituents come up and ask exactly what the challenge process is and what causes that. They’re being very positive actually.”

The proposed pool is supposed to replace the 64-year-old Gleason Pool, which has been closed for the past two years and is in the process of being demolished according to the Blue Mountain Eagle.

The bond proposal would charge 70 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value in the parks and recreation district, which covers John Day, Canyon City and their surrounding areas. The median value of an owner-occupied house in Grant County is $153,900 which would lead to around $108 in property taxes for such a property going toward the bond each year, for the next 20 years.

The new pool is a joint project between the parks and recreation district and the city of John Day which are separate entities. If the bond moves forward, the pool’s construction costs will be aided by a $2 million state grant.

Local officials knew a close election was possible going into the election. Before the board for the parks and recreation district voted to put the issue on the May ballot, the city distributed a survey asking residents their thoughts on the bond.

The results showed that 35% of respondents would definitely vote in favor of the bond, while 34% definitely wouldn’t.

The vote for the John Day pool bond is one of a handful of votes going down to the wire in Oregon. The Democratic primary for a state House seat in the Lake Oswego area was down to a two-vote margin on Wednesday. And only five votes separate two candidates in a Wheeler County commissioner race.