County commissioner: Ockunzzi, Scroggin

Democrats and Republicans have several candidates to choose from in the primary races for Jackson County commissioner. Four Republicans and three Democrats are angling for votes.

The successful nominees will face off in November to replace retiring Commissioner C.W. Smith. The winner will join John Rachor and Don Skundrick, who were elected in 2010.

On the Republican side, three candidates who ran in 2010 have returned for another try, joining Planning Commission member Joel Ockunzzi, making his first run for elective office. We recommend Republican voters nominate Ockunzzi.

Doug Breidenthal, an assistant fire chief and Jackson County Republican Party chairman, has collected a number of endorsements from GOP figures, including Reps. Dennis Richardson and Sal Esquivel and former county commissioner Jack Walker.

Kay Harrison, a sales consultant at Harry & David and a Central Point City Council member, has served on the Rogue Valley Transportation District board and the RVTD Budget Committee as well as several other community boards and committees.

Colleen Roberts of Prospect owns and operates Sensational Sweets in Eagle Point. She is a member of the Prospect School District Budget Committee.

Ockunzzi, a real estate broker with a background in industry, brings a businessman's — and businesslike — approach to county government. He speaks knowledgeably about the Regional Problem Solving process from his work on the Planning Commission.

Perhaps most importantly, Ockunzzi is the only Republican candidate to oppose both county land-use ballot measures, correctly identifying them as a potential waste of time and money. The other three candidates all support the measures.

We recommend Republican voters nominate Ockunzzi.

On the Democratic side, longtime insurance agent Mark Soderstrom faces John Beatty, a technical support specialist for Jackson County, and Jeff Scroggin, chief of staff for State Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford. Our recommendation goes to Scroggin, who displays the best grasp of what government can accomplish and a background in military leadership with the U.S. Army.

Soderstrom is a former Medford Planning Commission member and a founding member of the campaign to rebuild Jackson County's libraries. He advocates pursuing large-scale solar power projects in Jackson County and proposes a county-run health clinic using nurse practitioners to keep down costs.

Beatty has a background in small business ownership and management, and says his experience providing technical support to current and former commissioners and other county officials gives him insight into the workings of county government. He has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate.

Scroggin stands out among the three for his experience in Salem working on legislation and his leadership experience in the military. We recommend Democrats nominate him to represent their party in the November election.

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