By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A ballot measure restricting retail buildings bigger than 65,000 square feet lost by 34 votes, according to final unofficial totals released Tuesday night.

Preliminary returns from Marion County indicate the measure failed 50.2 percent to 49.7 percent. Votes against were 4,042, and 4,008 voted yes.

Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess said Tuesday evening the margin is not close enough to trigger an automatic recount. He said about 26 ballots have “signature issues.”

Miles Eshaia, campaign staffer for Keep Keizer Livable, said his group had run a “great get-out-the-vote campaign.”

Kevin Hohnbaum, a co-founder of Keep Keizer Livable, was disappointed but said he still found the outcome “encouraging.”

“Eight thousand people got up and cared enough about what happens in Keizer to lift their voices,” Hohnbaum said. “That’s good. I’m really encouraged by the number of people who have taken action on one side or the other, woke up and started participating in the process.”

The measure would have restricted retail buildings, possibly including those with multiple tenants, to the currently-developed portion of Keizer Station. Keep Keizer Livable was founded to fight plans for a big box discount grocer at Lockhaven Drive and Chemawa Road NE; however, most experts believe the ballot measure likely wouldn’t have affected the big box application due to the state goalposting statute.

Mayor Lore Christopher, who advocated against the ballot measure, said the election “does not change my commitment to Keizer neighborhoods, and at the same time I am committed to continuing to recruit local jobs for local folks.

“This election was not about voting against our friends and neighbors,” Christopher said. “It was about affirming that there are appropriate and sufficient controls in place to allow for economic development and local jobs for local folks while preserving the fabric of our neighborhoods and the quality of life we all love in Keizer.”

The mayor said she “looks forward to continuing to work with the Keep Keizer Livable group. They are an important part of our collective voice and while I don’t always agree with their statements or perspective, I always appreciate their willingness to join the discussion and influence the final product.”

Regarding the election outcome, “It makes me feel better that I wasn’t out of touch … We’re working folks. That’s who we are as a community and I think these folks really said, ‘We want a discount grocer and we want it locally.’”

Some took to the Keizertimes Facebook page to celebrate or vent frustration.

“This is devastating for where we live,” said Alicia Self. “Way too close to home!”

“It’s a big win for competition and America!” said Siddartha Priest. “Unions kill business and destroy the American dream!”