Colleen Roberts was elected Jackson County commissioner in 2014 without opposition after winning the Republican primary. We did not endorse her in that primary, preferring her opponent, whom we considered better prepared for the job. Roberts is now seeking a second term, facing a challenge from Democrat Lanita Witt, a retired physician, farmer and rancher.
Witt demonstrates a thorough grasp of the problems facing the county, including inadequate jail space and lack of sufficient mental health and substance abuse treatment. Her experience managing timberland on her ranch property outside of Ashland gives her firsthand knowledge of the issues involved in addressing wildfire risk and smoke during the summer months.
Roberts, who ran her first campaign on a platform of opposing taxes and questioning federal authority to manage public land, hasn’t changed her views much in four years. She and Witt both support the need for a new county jail, but Roberts says she empathizes with public opposition to the taxes needed to pay for it.
Witt and Roberts both support efforts to thin overgrown forest stands to reduce fire risk. Witt emphasizes removing flammable understory, leaving large trees standing. Roberts favors more commercial harvest of timber.
Witt has lived in Jackson County for more than 30 years, practicing medicine and operating an organic farm and ranch. Now retired, she says she wants to help find solutions to the problems of health care, mental health treatment and the criminal justice system.
We recommend voters choose Lanita Witt for county commissioner, Position 3.