Commissioners delay vote on making post nonpartisan

Jackson County Commissioners put off a decision on whether to ask voters if their jobs should be nonpartisan.

The board of commissioners was scheduled to vote at today's weekly meeting on whether to send the question to the May 2014 ballot, but decided to remove it from the agenda and potentially revisit it at a later date. When is not yet known. As originally proposed, the measure would amend the county's charter to make the positions nonpartisan starting in the May 2016 primary election.

Commissioners Doug Breidenthal and John Rachor both said they wanted to devote more focus to proposed districts that would fund the county's libraries and the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center.

"I believe having too many items on the ballot would disadvantage the libraries," Breidenthal said.

Breidenthal added he also doesn't support making the commissioner's post nonpartisan in principle, as it would remove the identifying affiliations from candidates and reduce transparency.

"You're forcing a person to remove the label they wish to have," Breidenthal said. "I think the voters should have a clear understanding of who they're voting for."

Rachor said he is in favor of putting it on the November 2014 ballot, as he also wants more attention to be given to the special and service districts proposed for libraries and the Extension, respectively.

Commissioner Chairman Don Skundrick proposed putting the ballot measure before the voters in September and said that he will push to revisit it.

"It won't be off the table as long as I'm in office," Skundrick said. "It got moved to the back burner."

Skundrick said that during his door-to-door campaign in 2010 the issue of why the position wasn't nonpartisan was the second most-asked question by voters.

"I feel it's important," he said. "I think it's fair to say it's not a dead issue."

— Ryan Pfeil

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