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MailTribune.com
  • Food co-op booster runs for county seat

  • Jim Sims, a Medford legal aid attorney who is leading an effort to launch a Medford food co-op, has joined a growing group of contenders for vacant seats on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
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  • Jim Sims, a Medford legal aid attorney who is leading an effort to launch a Medford food co-op, has joined a growing group of contenders for vacant seats on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
    Sims, 65, filed as a Democrat for the seat now occupied by Dave Gilmour. He will have at least two Democratic opponents, Medford resident Buck Eichler and Jacksonville resident Mark Wisnovsky, in the May 18 primary. Gilmour is not seeking re-election.
    Three Republicans also have entered the race: Kay Harrison and John Rachor, both of Central Point, and Craig Prewitt, who lives in rural Medford.
    A 33-year-resident of Jackson County, Sims said he would serve as a full-time commissioner if elected.
    Sims said he was motivated to run because of his experience dealing with economically disadvantaged people, who have been hard-hit by the economy, he said. County commissioners should serve as strong advocates for such people at the state level, he said
    He said he's seen the safety net shrink as an increasing burden is placed on limited services provided by local agencies. At the same time, homelessness continues to grow in the valley and jobs are more difficult to find.
    "We have to be aware of the consequences that fall on the most vulnerable," Sims said.
    He said the commissioners haven't paid sufficient attention to the human service needs in their budgets in recent years.
    But Sims doesn't advocate raising taxes.
    "If we are going to be responsible, we have to live within our means," he said.
    As a commissioner, Sims said, he would do more to resolve the ongoing dispute over funding the Southern Oregon Historical Society. SOHS supporters and Commissioner Jack Walker, whose seat will also be on the November ballot, have exchanged sometimes acrimonious comments in the course of the years-long debate.
    "Creating an antagonistic relationship is counter-productive," Sims said.
    He also said commissioners should promote small-scale farming in the area to help preserve farm land and remove as many obstacles to achieving that end as possible.
    He thinks commissioners should work toward removing as many restrictions as possible for small businesses as well.
    Sims is president of the Medford Food Co-op, which is seeking members in order to open a co-op grocery store in the city. His said his work with the Ashland Co-op has reinforced for him the value of a business run by local people that has generated tremendous community support.
    "A big part of what I believe in is local solutions," Sims said.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.
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