Jim Olney is the apparent Democratic nominee to run against Republican C.W. Smith in November’s general election for Jackson County commissioner. - Bob Pennell

Democrats back Olney

Incumbent Jackson County Commissioner C.W. Smith will face Democratic challenger Jim Olney in the November election.

Incumbent Smith, first elected in 2005, withstood a primary challenge from Gold Hill resident Morris "Bub" Saltekoff.

Smith had tallied 12,400 votes — 82 percent — compared to Saltekoff's 2,684 votes, or 17 percent.

Olney, the executive director of the Jackson County Library Foundation, received 8,931 votes, or 50 percent, in early returns on the Democratic side. John Morrison, the mayor of Ashland, had 5,875 votes — 32 percent — while Scott Keith, former manager of an outdoor sporting goods store in Medford, earned 2,915 votes, or 16 percent.

Noting he is a member of the Governor's Task Force on Forest Funding and County Payments, Smith, 61, an Eagle Point resident, said his top priority if re-elected in November is resolving the county's long-term funding needs.

"The predominate goal is to stabilize the statewide forest funding issue," he said of timber-dependent counties. "We need to continue to work as a team at the county and state level and go to the federal government to continue to make our case.

"I've spent an awful lot of time to bring myself up to speed on this issue," he added. "We've made a lot of inroads."

Smith, a board member of the Oregon Association of Counties and O&C Counties Association, said his experience will make it easier for the county to achieve that goal.

That most Democrats in the county supported Obama will benefit his candidacy, Olney said.

"Jackson County Democrats went for Obama because they want change," he said. "I represent change. My biggest challenge now is to get out there so more people get to know me and what I stand for."

Olney, 55, has a master's degree in public administration and teaches online classes in public administration to soldiers through Saint Leo University at the Key West Naval Air Station in Monroe County, Fla. He said he plans to knock on a lot of doors in the coming months.

"I'm very pleased and honored the voters in Jackson County have chosen me as the Democratic candidate for commissioner in the fall election," he said. "The key reason I won was that I did a lot of door-to-door.

"I tried to meet people personally. That's something I intend to do a lot more of in the next six months."

Morrison, 63, was attending a council meeting and was unavailable for comment Tuesday night.

Saltekoff, 65, a retired millwright and beekeeper, said he intends to run again when another commissioner seat becomes open in two years.

"I plan on running against Jack Walker," he said of the commissioner whose seat is next up for re-election. "I had no expectations this time. I just wanted everyone out there to know I want to be there to represent them.

"I will support Smith one-hundred percent," he added. "I'm a good Republican."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

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