Cheryl Avgeris

Five candidates run for Jackson County clerk

Five candidates — three with extensive experience in government records — are running for Jackson County clerk, a position Kathy Beckett held for 25 years before retiring Jan. 31.

Appointed Beckett's replacement in February, Chris Walker, a 13-year veteran in the Jackson County Elections Department and the Recorder's Department (three in elections, the last 10 in recording), says the past few months have been a "great learning experience. I'm a challenge person and I thrive on it. I've done everything I ask my employees to do."

Cheryl Avgeris, a 36-year resident of the Rogue Valley, has worked in the same department for 16 years and is supervisor of recording. She, too, has done all the jobs in the department. She was not considered for the interim clerk appointment because she had lived in Josephine County for a time and moved back to Jackson County less than a year ago. By the November general election, however, she will have lived in the county for the required year.

Though they're running for the same $74,000-a-year job, Walker says the two are friends, on the job and off. "It's been an adjustment and we've handled it really well," she says.

As head of recording, Avgeris believes she has an edge over Walker in management experience. And she says elections have changed dramatically in the decade Walker has been in recording.

Walker says she managed people in her earlier work in the grocery business and assisted when Beckett and Avgeris were out of the office. She's learning a lot on the job, she says.

"I love my work and the challenges each day brings. "¦There's no better way to learn a position than to get thrown into it," Walker says.

Across the street in City Hall, Medford Deputy City Recorder Karen Spoonts, a seven-year veteran of the job (12 years total in government), says she wouldn't bring big changes to the office if elected but would do the job well according to state law.

"Kathy (Beckett) did a great job and in following the laws, you don't have a lot of leeway to change the laws, but the leadership style can change," she says.

She says she has a quiet style of leadership, with good listening skills toward employees, "not dominating, because they're very important to you." Spoonts says she would learn each person's position, "so I know what's taking place under me, to cross-train as needed and to work with city recorders and surveyors regarding any changes in recording."

Candidate Colleen Roberts, who has owned and operated Sensational Sweets in Eagle Point for 15 years, says her qualifications include business management experience and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Southern Oregon University. She's working on a master's from Walden University online.

Roberts says she deplores low voter turnout and will use her marketing skills to increase it and get younger people involved.

"That's been lacking," Roberts says.

Roberts says it's an advantage that she's an "outsider, who can offer choices and bring a new pair of eyes" to the job. "People have encouraged me to run because of my energy and integrity," she says.

Rogue Valley Transportation District board member Rick Schreffler of Jacksonville says he wants to bring integrity to the office that's been lacking in the areas of signature validation and budget control.

Schreffler says he would like to see property appraised at true market value and would donate half his salary back to county coffers if elected. He charged the clerk's department with being $70,000 in the red because of the down housing market, something Walker roundly rebuts.

"We're never in the red," Walker says. "We contribute to the general fund. We're a money-making department."

Schreffler, who gave his age as "the 30s," says his experience includes examining deeds in a recording office in Central California, supervising a youth camp for the California Department of Conservation and, at present, running a consulting firm that provides information and support systems for businesses and governments.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

Age: 55

Residence: Medford

Employment: Jackson County Clerk's Office

Education: Graduate of Interlake High School, Bellevue, Wash.

Experience: 16 years in the county clerk's office, including data entry for more than eight years, accounts payable and receivable for more than two years, supervisor for the recording program since 2002. Supervises six employees and responsible for more than $2 million in annual revenues. Helped implement passport program, adding revenue to the department. Member of the Oregon Association of County Clerks for more than nine years.

Top three priorities if elected:

1. Continue the progress of the elections program and make it as efficient as possible so all votes are counted in a fast and most accurate manner.

2. Continue to find new revenue streams to increase the revenue generated for the county clerk's program.

3. Make sure the elections and recording programs are run efficiently and to the highest standards of the law.

Age: 51

Residence: Prospect

Employment: Owner of Sensational Sweets, Eagle Point, for 15 years

Education: Bachelor's in business administration, University of Phoenix; working on a master's in business administration from Walden University

Experience: 15 years in business management, operational budgeting, personnel management, financial reporting

Top three priorities if elected:

1. Communication and accountability to the citizens and voters of Jackson County.

2. Attention to detail to the election process — signature verification, voter registration verification and balanced and accurate reporting of the votes.

3. Through the integrity and enthusiasm of my leadership, my priority is to increase voter confidence and participation in Jackson County.

The candidate did not respond to the Mail Tribune's repeated requests for his biographical information and photo.

Age: 53

Residence: Medford

Employment: Deputy city recorder for Medford

Experience: 12 years' government experience, seven years as Medford deputy city recorder. Certified municipal clerk, a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks and Oregon Association of Municipal Recorders. Chairwoman of the Nominating Committee and serves on the Legislative and Leadership committees of OAMR.

Top three priorities if elected:

1. Before Kathy Beckett left office, I asked her what her priorities in this position are. She gave me the following: Keep abreast of legislative issues; technology; working with the media and elected officials; supervising of staff, and elections. I plan on focusing on those in detail.

2. The employees are the lifeline of the office. I'm interested in learning each employee's job duties, cross-train where needed, develop procedures if needed and seek their expertise on "what if."

3. Because I work with another government entity, I have observed from "outside the box." Already I have been given suggestions from surveyors and city recorders. I plan on implementing meetings with those who might be interested in creative ways to improve the process of recording documents.

Age: 41

Residence: Phoenix

Employment: Jackson County Clerk's Office

Education: Phoenix High School graduate; diploma in business management from Trend Business College

Experience: Appointed Jackson County Clerk on Feb. 4 to replace Kathy Beckett; 13 years in the Jackson County Clerk's Office, three years in elections, 10 years in recording. Practical and daily experience in all phases of the county clerk's programs. Training from the Board of Property Tax Appeals, Oregon Department of Revenue, Property Tax Division, 2006-2008; Passport Acceptance, U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, 2006; 2008 member of Oregon Association of County Clerks.

Top three priorities if elected to office:

1. It is my No. 1 priority to make sure every vote counts. If there are concerns or questions, I will be available in person, by phone or by e-mail at all possible times. Please do not hesitate to contact me, I will make every effort to help in a timely manner.

2. To follow Oregon law to assure an accurate elections process, and maintain all property records, allowing easy public access. To be objective, fair, and impartial in the performance of duties crucial to our electoral process, as well as the day-to-day duties of the clerk's office.

3. I will work diligently, as a nonpartisan official, to maintain the integrity of the clerk's office, while serving others with competence and respect.

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