County commissioners delay decision on nonpartisan designation measure

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

The Board of Commissioners was scheduled to vote at Wednesday's weekly public meeting on whether to send the question to the May 2014 ballot, but decided to remove it from the agenda and consider it at a later date.

As originally proposed, the measure would amend the county's charter to make commissioner positions nonpartisan starting with the May 2016 primary election.

Commissioners Doug Breidenthal and John Rachor said they wanted to focus more attention toward proposed special 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 doesn't support making the commissioner posts nonpartisan, saying 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 the partisan question on the November 2014 ballot, saying he also wants more attention to be given to the special districts proposed for libraries and the Extension Service.

Commission Chairman Don Skundrick, who in September proposed putting the ballot measure before voters, said 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 is partisan 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."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or

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