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Linn County Clerk Druckenmiller dies after cancer battle

Steve Druckenmiller, who has served as Linn County Clerk since 1986, died Sunday morning, Sept. 24, after a six-month battle with cancer. He was serving his 10th term in office. 

Druckenmiller, 72, was the second longest serving elected official in Linn County history, behind only Rufus Russell, who served 40 years in the early 1900s. 

Druckenmiller began working in the Assessor’s Office in 1979 and four years later went to work under Linn County Clerk Del Riley. In 1986 he succeeded his mentor and was elected Linn County Clerk. 

He oversaw 141 vote-by-mail elections, the most in the United States, plus 28 poll elections.   

In 1982, he was appointed Linn County Commissioner, completing the term of an outgoing commissioner. He also served on the board of the Linn County Housing Authority. In 2006, he was elected president of the Oregon State Clerks Association.

“Steve loved the people of Linn County and was deeply honored that they entrusted him to conduct elections all of these years,” said Roger Nyquist, chairman of the Linn County Board of Commissioners. “It was a job he did flawlessly. Steve became the wise and reasonable person in the courthouse sought out by many for advice. I feel privileged to have been his friend and I miss him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Druckenmiller grew up in California. He earned a bachelor’s degree in government and Juris Prudence degree from Suffolk University in Boston, Mass. 

Druckenmiller greatly admired his mentor Del Riley who pioneered Oregon’s vote-by-mail election system. Like Riley, Druckenmiller was a strong proponent of vote-by-mail. He also spearheaded the county program by which people can register to vote when they get or renew their driver’s license. 

In 2010, Oregon became the fourth state to allow online voter registration behind Arizona, Washington and Kansas. Druckenmiller enthusiastically supported this as well. 

He said at the time, “We think this is a very good idea. It will make registration more accessible to everyone. If people register online, we won’t have the problems associated with trying to decipher someone’s handwriting. If we can’t read their registration, we have to spend time tracking them down to make changes.”

Druckenmiller was always willing to give anyone with questions about the vote-by-mail system a personal tour through the clerk’s office and explain how the system works, point-by-point.  

He also praised the recent county leadership, saying often that the county staff was working like a team “that is focused on the work at hand.” 

Services are pending.

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