MEDFORD — There's only one Jackson County commissioner seat up for election this year, but it's drawing a crowd — with seven candidates filing to compete for their parties' nomination in the May 15 primary.
Democrats John Beatty, Jeff Scroggin and Mark Edward Soderstrom and Republicans Joel Ockunzzi and Colleen Roberts have joined Republicans Doug Breidenthal and Kay Harrison, both of whom filed for the Position 2 seat in January. The winner will replace Commissioner C.W. Smith, who is not seeking re-election.
Colleen Roberts of Prospect said she's running for commissioner because she wants a representative who is in touch with county residents. The owner of Sensational Sweets Bakery in Eagle Point since 1993, Roberts said many of her customers have discussed their frustrations over several county decisions with her, frustrations she often shares.
She disagreed with the commissioners on a proposal to make the surveyor, clerk and assessor positions appointed instead of elected, and questioned the salary and benefits package given to County Administrator Danny Jordan.
Jordan, who is credited with making Jackson County one of the most financially stable in the state, is scheduled to make more than $200,000 in the coming year and receives a housing allowance and other perks.
"I said, 'I better put my money where my mouth is,' " Roberts said. "I just think we need people that are willing to speak up."
Roberts ran for county clerk in 2008 but lost to Chris Walker. Roberts lives in Prospect with her husband of 35 years. She has three sons and said she will have 10 grandchildren by the time of the primary.
Beatty, a technical support specialist for Jackson County, said he wants to see more public discourse among the commissioners, especially on issues such as job creation and the environment.
"I'm not saying disagreement is always good, but it's good to have some discourse," Beatty said. "I do want to have a little more discussion."
Beatty said he would like to see whether more resources can be directed toward programs that protect youth, such as the Court Appointed Special Advocates.
"We've had some very terrible stories in the news lately regarding children," Beatty said. "I'd like to see more of the county looking into that and try to promote the kind of policies that would favor things like CASA."
Beatty is a 1993 Crater High School graduate and lives with his wife in Central Point.
Joel Ockunzzi is a member of the Jackson County Planning Commission and a licensed real estate broker for Oregon Opportunities. He said he would like to help the county be prepared for upcoming challenges such as regional land use planning, job creation and the loss of federal timber payments.
"I would like to see we have an environment here that creates interest for family-wage jobs and provide strong opportunities for, in particular, the next generation coming on," Ockunzzi said. "We've got serious funding issues because of the loss of those timber payments. I want to find out what is the most important thing to (the voters)."
Ockunzzi said promoting the area through organizations such as the Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. would be key in creating a viable private sector job climate.
He lives in the White City area with his wife and has lived in Southern Oregon since 1980. He has three children.
Mark Edward Soderstrom said he thinks Jackson County is mostly well-run, but that county officials should be more aggressive in creating local energy-sector jobs.
"Currently we have a large outflow of money that is basically going to purchase energy that is produced outside of the county, and I think the county has an opportunity to develop solar energy and renewable energy, and produce that energy within the county," Soderstrom said.
Soderstrom said he served on the Medford Planning Commission several years ago. He also worked as a supervisor for Farmers Insurance. Currently he owns some rental properties.
"I understand management of large organizations," Soderstrom said. "I think that I have a good grasp of how large organizations can be managed effectively."
Soderstrom lives in Phoenix with his wife. He has five children and three grandchildren.
Jeff Scroggin of Talent could not immediately be reached for comment.
In the race for county assessor, Josh Gibson, who was appointed in December to fill the assessor position when incumbent Dan Ross abruptly retired, has filed to face real estate appraiser Roy Wright, who ran unsuccessfully for the position in 2008.
Other candidates who will appear on some or all of the ballots locally include:
Jackson County races
Jackson County district attorney: Beth Heckert, David Hoppe, Rob Patridge
Jackson County surveyor: Herb Farber, Kerry K. Bradshaw
State senator, 1st District: incumbent Jeff Kruse, R; Eldon Rollins, D
State senator, 2nd District: Herman Baertschiger Jr., R; Jim Diefenderfer, D
State senator, 28th District: incumbent Douglas K. Whitsett, R; Karl Scronce, R
State representative, 2nd District: incumbent Tim Freeman, R
State representative, 4th District: incumbent Dennis Richardson, R
State representative, 5th District: incumbent Peter Buckley, D; Sandra A. Abercrombie, R
State representative, 6th District: incumbent Sal Esquivel, R
State representative, 55th District: incumbent Mike McLane, R; John Huddle, D
Jackson County Circuit Court judge, Position 5: incumbent Timothy Gerking
Jackson County Circuit Court judge, Position 7: incumbent Benjamin M. Bloom, David Orr
Jackson County Circuit Court judge, Position 9: incumbent Ron Grensky
Secretary of state: incumbent Kate Brown, D; Paul Damian Wells, D; Knute Buehler, R
State treasurer: incumbent Ted Wheeler, D
Attorney general: Dwight Holton, D; Ellen Rosenblum, D
U.S. representative, 2nd District: incumbent Greg Walden, R; Joyce B. Segers, D; John Sweeney, D
Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries: Brad Avakian, Bruce Starr
Oregon Supreme Court judge, Position 2: Dave Brewer
Oregon Supreme Court judge, Position 3: Nena Cook, Richard C. Baldwin, Timothy J. Sercombe
Oregon Supreme Court judge, Position 6: Virginia L. Linder,
Oregon Court of Appeals judge, Position 5: Rick Haselton
Oregon Court of Appeals judge, Position 6: Allan J. Arlow, James C. Egan, Tim Volpert
Oregon Court of Appeals judge, Position 8: Lynn R. Nakamoto
Oregon Court of Appeals judge, Position 9: Erika Hadlock
Oregon Court of Appeals judge, Position 10: Rex Armstrong