Kevin Talbert's entry into the race for Jackson County commissioner, position 3, is welcome news because his candidacy will give voters a choice. Representative government does not function well when candidates run unopposed.
Talbert, who retired as a Southern Oregon University administrator after 26 years, will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot as the nominee of the Independent Party of Oregon. If he had not agreed to run, Republican nominee Colleen Roberts would have been the only name on the ballot, also appearing as the Democratic nominee.
That's because no Democrat ran in the primary, and Roberts received enough write-in votes to win the Democratic nomination — a common tactic for candidates when no one files in the opposing party's primary.
We applaud Talbert's entry into the race not to take sides this early in the contest, but to note that voters deserve more than one option. Two of the three positions on the Board of Commissioners are open this fall, and the makeup of the board will influence the direction of the county for the next four years.
Commissioners John Rachor and Don Skundrick are retiring, leaving Doug Breidenthal, a Republican, as the only returning member. Voters will have a wide variety of options for position 1, where Curt Ankerberg, the Libertarian Party nominee, Curt Chancler, an non-affiliated candidate, Republican Rick Dyer and Democrat Tonia Moro will square off.
Talbert says he believes government can contribute to a stronger community, a sharp contrast with Roberts, a persistent critic of county government who advocates for continued spending cuts. Talbert says the position of county commissioner has little to do with traditional political divisions, because "potholes are not partisan." We agree, and look forward to the campaign, where voters will have the opportunity to choose between two competing visions of the role of government.