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Incumbent fends off well-funded challenge to hold Columbia 911 Communications seat

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Despite hefty campaign spending, candidate Tyler Miller does not make board in Zone 5 race

The Columbia 911 Communications District board of directors will have no new members as the result of the May 16 special election.

In the only contested race, 16-year incumbent AndersonRobert Anderson fended off a well-financed challenge by opponent Tyler Miller, winning 65.5 percent of the vote to represent Zone 5. Miller finished with 33 percent of votes cast in his favor.

Anderson said he is looking forward to continuing his service on the board and noted that several concerns Miller raised thoughout the campaign, such as agency staffing and management compared to similar districts, are now being reviewed.

"Just because (Miller) didn't win the position doesn't mean that those questions that he raised will be disregarded," Anderson said.

MillerMiller, who had worked with the 911 district as a radio communications consultant through a contract with a Nevada-based company called Pallans Associates, and served as a Columbia County Sheriff's Office reserve deputy, was reported to be the subject of an Oregon State Police investigation in the runup to the election.

The probe into Miller reportedly began after a two month-long internal investigation into the district's former executive director, Steve Watson, for sexual harassment toward an employee. That investigation was prompted by complaints filled by Miller.

The investigation, however, also returned findings that alleged Milller filed the complaint against Watson for self-serving reasons.

Miller's status with CCSO as a reserve deputy was suspended in late April, and shortly afterward Miller told the Spotlight he believed the investigation and subsequent suspension was meant to influence the election. He said he hired an attorney with elections law experience to explore the issue.

Miller was also one of the biggest spenders in the race for the board — indeed, his spending likely topped that of any candidate running for a position in Columbia County in the special election.

Campaign finance reporting for the "Committee To Elect Tyler Miller" shows it had $8,218 in expenses, all in-kind donations made by Miller.

Anderson reported no campaign expenses.

In 2013, Miller and Anderson also ran against one another for the board. Anderson commented on the fact that both elections yielded similar results.

Miller did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding the outcome of the election by the Spotlight's press time Thursday.

Henry Heimuller and Dave Crawford, both current directors who ran uncontested for re-election, retained their positions.