The Board of Commissioners Face a Major Shake-Up in the Wake of Jackson County for All Campaign

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — Jackson County for All has exceeded its signature target of 10,500, altering the landscape of the Board of Commissioners, whose three members now face the possibility of having their salaries almost halved.

UPDATE: Jackson County Leadership: No Investigation By Oregon Secretary Of State

Denise Krause, the chief organizer of Jackson for All that spearheaded the signature drive, is campaigning for three ballot measures that will have a far-reaching impact on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.


Ballot Measures Will Change the Political Flavor of the Board

The first ballot measure is to change the political flavor of the Board of Commissioners. Jackson County for All wants to see the board altered from partisan to non-partisan – this will allow voters who do not belong to any party to have the right to vote in primary elections.

Twenty-five percent of Oregon’s 36 counties, numbering nine, are partisan. Douglas County changed to non-partisan in 2006, and Klamath County in 2013.

The second ballot measure is to increase the number of board members from three to five. Jackson County’s three-member Board of Commissioners was created in 1853 when less than 4,000 people lived in the county. Since then, Jackson’s population has grown to 223,259, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Commissioners Salaries Will Be Almost Halved

The third ballot measure is to adjust the salaries earned by the commissioners. The three Jackson County commissioners are among the highest paid in the state, with take-home checks between $112,382.40 and $143,416.00. These amounts exclude paid benefits.

The ballot proposes that the salaries earned by the three commissioners be spread among a five-person Board of Commissioners. This move will reduce take-home paychecks to a level comparable to similar-sized Oregon counties.


10,700 Votes and Counting

To date, the three ballot measures have received the support of 10,700 Jackson County residents, sufficient signatures to ensure qualification for the primaries in May. Krause explains that while the Jackson for All campaign only needed 8,400, the orgabnisation was advised to collect 10,500 votes to compensate for possible duplications, ineligible voters, undecipherable signatures, or other possible issues. The organizers are still counting votes in favor of the three ballot measures.

Jackson for All supporters will meet at the County Courthouse at noon next Tuesday, 20 February, to officially hand over the signatures, one day before the qualification date for the 21 May primary elections.

Krause questions the need for the Board of Commissioners to occupy “palatial” offices, adding that she has repeatedly requested a costing breakdown and that this is information the public has a right to know.

She says the board’s offices are partitioned from the public with glass is “intimidating” to constituents. She wants to see the commissioners moved into smaller office accommodation and for the board members to become closely integrated with the public.

Krause, a Democrat, acceded that the Board of Commissioners could end up with five Republicans instead of the current three Republicans. She pointed out that non-partisan constituents make up most of the county’s population and if the ballot measures are successful, they will have the right to vote in the primaries for the first time.


Ballot Measures Will Cost Jackson County More Money

County administrator Danny Jordan says that if the ballot measures are accepted, it is likely that the staff complement handling the Board of Commissioners will have to be increased. An additional administrative assistant will probably also be required.

Other additional expenses, says Jordan, will be the added bill of $2,000 monthly for health coverage for each commissioner. More office space and equipment will probably also be required, says Jordan.


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