Jackson County commissioner candidates Q&A

Q&A: Where Breidenthal and Scroggin stand on five issues affecting area voters
Democrat Jeff Scroggin, left. debates Republican Doug Breidenthal for county commissioner. Mail Tribune / Bob PennellBob Pennell

1. What are your top three priorities if elected?

BREIDENTHAL: Establish and implement policies that help create family-wage jobs in Jackson County. Streamline our planning and permitting processes to encourage economic development and job growth.

Breidenthal GOP

Age: 42

Occupation: Operations chief, Kingsley Fire Department, deputy chief, Lakeside Fire Department

Education: Rogue Community College, Central Oregon Community College, University of Alabama

SCROGGIN DEMS

Age: 31

Occupation: Chief of staff, Oregon Senate

Education: University of Oregon

Maintain a safe and secure community by keeping law enforcement professionals on the job.

SCROGGIN: Invest in our infrastructure, such as the Siskiyou rail project, Water for Irrigation Streams & Economy project, and rural broadband Internet. It was public investment that lit the rural communities in the '30s, and it will take a similar concentrated effort to connect our rural communities today. Infrastructure that is fiscally responsible, helps business do business efficiently and improves our quality of life is the role of government.

Manage the budget responsibly by securing essential services and protecting investments in the future while looking at all options and closing the budget hole.

Make county commissioners nonpartisan positions, as in most Oregon counties.

2. How would you help create more jobs, particularly family-wage jobs, in Jackson County?

BREIDENTHAL: Using the county's current economic development plan, I would build in additional incentives and work to reduce system development charges and hidden fees.

I will explore the feasibility of affordable long-term land leases that will make it more affordable for businesses to relocate, as well as encourage new small-business startups.

I will work to establish responsible and sustainable forest practices that put people back to work in the woods. By harvesting a higher percentage of our sustainable timber yield, the county will reduce fire danger, create hundreds of new jobs, and inject millions of dollars into our local economy, all while closing the existing budget gap without increasing taxes.

SCROGGIN: We can help existing business expand and encourage new business to relocate by protecting and enhancing the very things that brought people here: easy commutes, protected farmland, excellent schools, open libraries, clean air and water, and diverse recreational opportunities.

The county should seek to add value to local resources and continue to buy services locally whenever possible.

We should modernize our development department by putting the permitting process online so that business can do business more efficiently.

And again, infrastructure: Small investments today give us a greater return on our investment while positioning us better for the future.

3. Do you see any areas where money could be saved in the county budget?

BREIDENTHAL: The majority of Jackson County is run in an efficient manner. With that being said, after examination of the budget and meetings with county personnel, I believe there is room for a 1.5 to 3 percent savings per department by tightening our belt. This has the potential of saving up to $1.1 million annually.

We should also look at consolidating services to centralized locations to reduce overhead and maintenance costs of multiple aging buildings. The real long-term solution to our budget is to create an environment within the county that allows business to put people back to work.

SCROGGIN: There are certainly inefficiencies that can and should be eliminated, but it's worth noting that the county has made over $60 million in cuts recently, and we have been well-managed and relatively well-led.

That said, we must close the roughly $6 million budget hole. Millions could be saved by going to a health care self-insurance model for our county's union workers and renting out some of our newly built jail space to the federal government. Through co-location, service integration and tenant income, the new health and human services building should generate funding, as well.

4. What areas of the budget would you protect from cuts?

BREIDENTHAL: The role of local government is to protect the safety, health and welfare of its citizens. First, we must maintain the safety of our communities by keeping professional law enforcement personnel on the job.

Second, health and human services should remain a priority, thus helping to ensure the health and well-being of our citizens at every stage of life.

Third, I would support youth programs that encourage responsibility, respect and accountability. Quality of life is important to maintain a strong workforce, joyful children and healthy seniors. A safe and healthy community is a vibrant community.

SCROGGIN: We must protect essential services and investments in our future.

We should protect the permitting and planning department, libraries, vital public safety services, critical human services and nonprofit funding for programs like CASA and those that serve seniors and the disabled.

Jackson County proclaims that "We Honor Veterans." Let's live up to that motto now more than ever. I know if given the chance and training veterans will show up to work on time, work hard and do the job right. Now is the time to invest in those who have served; we should increase funds to veterans services.

5. What philosophy would guide you in making land-use decisions?

BREIDENTHAL: I subscribe to the concept that a man's home is his castle. The taxes paid to government are to ensure the public's safety, health and welfare while maintaining basic constitutional freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I recognize organized society needs rules and regulations; however, they should not be so burdensome to limit the local decisions of a community. We need to reach across the aisle to work together and find ways to eliminate the obstacles that limit our communities' ability to make local decisions. This will help our next generation achieve their full potential.

SCROGGIN: Land-use laws are about balance. We need to balance the right to farm and property rights with urban growth, water allocation, urban/rural/forest interfaces, and a host of other issues.

Agriculture and natural resource management are a vital part of our lifestyle and economic development. Recent growth in value-added agriculture in the vineyard, wine, artisan cheese, agri-tourism and organic/sustainable farming areas have shown the need for land-use laws that respect both present and future uses. We need to work to avoid costly legal battles, as well as advocating for rules that best fit the needs of Jackson County residents.



Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.
COUPON OF THE WEEK