Here are the responses of Jackson County commissioner candidates to a Mail Tribune questionnaire about their leadership styles and top priorities if elected. All are running unopposed in their respective primaries, so unless one is unseated by a write-in candidate, they’ll face off in the general election in November. Ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. May 15.
Occupation: Jackson County commissioner
Education: Doctor of Jurisprudence, Concord Law School; Bachelor of Science in Business Administration/Accounting, Southern Oregon University
Political experience: Jackson County commissioner, 2015 to present; Rogue Valley Transportation District board, 2009-2015
How would you describe your leadership style? I am a collaborative and inclusive leader and decision-maker. I solicit input from multiple perspectives of any particular issue to make truly informed decisions.
What are your top two priorities if elected? While there are certainly more than two priorities right now for Jackson County ... I would say continuing to seek solutions to our public safety issues, including substance abuse, mental illness, homelessness and jail capacity concerns, would be right near the top.
Fiscally responsible decision-making and continuing to reduce expenses and pay down county debt, as well as promoting economic development and building a skilled, resilient workforce would be another priority to promote prosperity and help Jackson County thrive.
Occupation: Executive director of The Valley School
Education: Bachelor’s in Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara
Political experience: Rotary Foundation board, city of Medford Art Selection Committee, Talent Outdoor Program board president.
How would you describe your leadership style? I have experience in business, nonprofit and education leadership roles, which are the foundation of collaborative multi-sector partnerships that I will bring to the position.
What are your top two priorities if elected? Jackson County’s housing shortage is severe and affects several areas of stability, including business development, family security, health, and populations like veterans and the elderly. We need to work with other elected officials, nonprofits and businesses to address this issue immediately for all members of our community.
Economic development is an important part of a thriving community and should be at the forefront of all decisions. But to thrive economically, a community must also have strong social services like mental health, law enforcement and leisure opportunities like safe bikeways and outdoor activities.
Lanita C. Witt
Residence: Outside Ashland
Occupation: Farmer and rancher, former physician
Education: Doctor of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Political experience: None
How would you describe your leadership style? I work collaboratively to thoroughly research background information and work with experienced and committed individuals as a team to find the best solutions.
What are your top two priorities if elected? Bolster community health services, including increasing availability of mental health care and drug/addiction treatment services. Many of the clients arriving at the emergency rooms or the jail are in fact in need of mental health care with a consistent provider or addiction treatment.
Prioritize affordable housing and innovative approaches to help decrease homelessness and increase technical education to develop a skilled family-wage workforce. Jackson County currently has a 1 percent rental vacancy; it is difficult to attract businesses and industries without a skilled work force and adequate available housing.
Residence: Gold Hill
Occupation: County commissioner, president of Sensational Sweets, Inc.
Education: Master of Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance, Walden University
Political experience: County commissioner, 2015-current; board member, Association of O&C Counties; Budget Committee, 2012-14, Prospect School District 59; elected Precinct Committee person, 2010-14.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Decisions based on the U.S. and Oregon constitutions, and the Jackson County Charter. I work to ensure citizens are heard. My door is always open.
What are your top two priorities if elected?
To continue to seek coordination by the county with federal agencies regarding public land management. This requires needed experience and knowledge of the Coordination Law, the agency’s requirement, and leadership.
Continue to seek ways to make sure the government helps our citizens rather than burdens them with unnecessary fees and regulations. Help create more pathways/remove obstacles for small businesses and home development to flourish.