Oregon Cities

Proposal to redesign Jackson County board of commissioners qualifies for May ballot

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The group Jackson County of All of Us has proposed restructuring the local Board of Commissioners’ positions. They say the changes would create better representation in the county.

They want to change the commissioner positions from being partisan to nonpartisan. That way, non-affiliated voters, which are the biggest group in Jackson County, can participate in primary elections. They also want to increase the number of commissioners from three to five and reduce their salaries.

Jackson County is currently represented by three Republican commissioners.

The group determined this week that they have enough signatures to get the measures on the May primary ballot.

“We’re all surprised,” said Denise Krause, one of the chief filers for the measures who previously ran for the Board of County Commissioners as a Democrat. “We’re all very pleasantly surprised. It’s amazing what people can do when they have a common goal, a shared purpose, and they work together. It’s a pretty wonderful thing.”

Commissioners Rick Dyer and Colleen Roberts currently earn over $136,000 a year, while Commissioner Dave Dotterer earns nearly $118,000. The ballot measures propose dividing their current salaries among five people rather than three.

Having five commissioners rather than three will increase efficiency under Oregon’s Public Meeting law, according to Krause. For instance, with only three members, two commissioners talking together is currently considered a quorum, and the public must be given notice of the time and place of such meetings.

On Tuesday, Jackson County for All of Us will bring their gathered signatures to the county clerk to be certified. Krause said they’ve counted nearly 11,000 voter signatures as of Thursday, which is far more than the 8,351 they need.

“It’s a really exciting time to be able to see that we can be really effective as a grassroots organization that wants better government. We’re willing to do the work, and we’re really excited to see the outcome,” Krause said.

Oregon’s primary election will be held on May 21.


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