Doug Breidenthal, a firefighter who works in both Klamath and Coos counties but lives in Medford, is the fourth candidate in the Republican primary race for the Jackson County commissioner seat now held by Dave Gilmour.
The 39-year-old is the fourth and youngest Republican to file for the seat also sought by Central Point resident Kay Harrison, rural Medford resident Craig Prewitt and John Rachor of Central Point.
On the Democratic ticket, the candidates are Medford residents Buck Eichler and Jim Sims, and Jacksonville resident Mark Wisnovsky.
A political newcomer, Breidenthal said that as county commissioner he wants to create a coalition of Southern Oregon counties that will strive for more flexibility in land-use laws in the region.
"Land-use laws right now have things pretty much locked down," he said. "You have the state telling us how we can grow, and where we can grow."
Breidenthal, who supported the Measure 37 property rights initiative, said he sees big companies like Harry & David and smaller property owners all looking for changes in land-use laws to help them through a tough economy.
In general, Breidenthal thinks Jackson County should play a greater role in making decisions about land-use issues.
He fears laws will become so restrictive that farmland could be designated as suitable only for viticulture. The wine industry may not be as big an economic engine as some might think, considering the size of the global wine market, he said.
"The concern I have is the state is gambling with our future," he said.
A resident of Jackson County since 1990, Breidenthal works as fire captain at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls and is deputy fire chief at the Lakeside Fire District in Coos County. He is a member of a local firefighter's association and is on the National Incident Management Team in California and Oregon.
Breidenthal said he would probably quit the two firefighting jobs if he were elected.
He said he also would decline the $90,000 salary the county is now offering new commissioners. He said he would accept $60,000 to $70,000, which is what commissioners were paid two years ago before substantial raises.
Philosophically, he said he doesn't agree with the salary schedule the county adopted.
"I don't see paying elected officials these kind of salaries at the expense of the taxpayers," he said.
He noted Jackson County has a full-time county administrator who performs many of the administrative duties that commissioners in Josephine County must assume, he said.
Breidenthal said that as commissioner he would play a more active role visiting businesses in California and Oregon to entice them into Jackson County. He said he's seen too many businesses pass over this area and move elsewhere.
"We need to sit down with the CEOs and have a cup of coffee and see if we can make things work," he said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.