In July 2012, I was a member of a jury with Judge Benjamin Bloom as presiding judge. He quietly maintained a calm, respectful courtroom.

In July 2012, I was a member of a jury with Judge Benjamin Bloom as presiding judge. He quietly maintained a calm, respectful courtroom.

After the trial had ended, Judge Bloom entered the room where the jury sat and personally thanked us for our time and for upholding our civic duty — obviously a matter of great importance to him. Despite a very long day, I had a renewed faith in the principles our nation was founded on. I believe Judge Bloom has a deep commitment to the American justice system. I believe his integrity and belief in a fair trial is patently apparent.

I believe he is an objective and impartial judge who isn't in a hurry to get the day over with, but one who wants to have the most thoughtful verdict for an individual. Judge Bloom is the epitome of the judge I would want presiding over a courtroom. I would urge you to elect Judge Benjamin Bloom to the Oregon Circuit Court of Jackson County. — Laurie Trickel, Ashland

I grew up with the adage that "politics is the art of compromise." That's not true in Washington where it's "party above country" — no compromising!

I now see some people in this valley who put "party above county." An example of this is found in some recent letters to the editor that lambasted Jackson County Commissioner Don Skundrick — a Republican — for endorsing the candidacy of Jeff Scroggin — a Democrat.

A Republican endorsing a Democrat; that's heresy! One of those letter writers called Skundrick a "Republican in name only" and said the party will work hard to defeat him in the next election. Well, I call Skundrick courageous. As State Sen. Alan Bates' chief of staff, Jeff learned first-hand from a master how to find solutions by working with representatives from both sides of the aisle in Salem. I am voting for Scroggin! — Marge Sutton, Ashland

I have had the pleasure of working with Rep. Dennis Richardson on budget issues in Salem over the past two years. It should come as no surprise that I have learned there is waste and inefficiency in state government.

For this reason I am supporting Dr. Knute Buehler for secretary of state. He will use the audit division to reduce waste in government and refocus priorities on things that are important, like educating our kids. The secretary of state has some powerful tools to hold agencies' feet to the fire and I know from first-hand experience that these tools have not been used effectively.

If you're happy with the way that Salem runs things, then by all means vote for the status quo. But if you want to get the biggest bang out of your tax dollars then join me in supporting Knute Buehler for secretary of state. — Dave Dotterrer, Ashland

The Republicans seem to have really gone off the deep end. First it was the "birthers" followed by the "he-really-isn't-a-Christian-but-a-Muslim" crowd. All the while the Christian fundamentalists have been ranting and raving about son of Satan, anti-Christ, and how you will go to hell if you support Obama.

Then for the last four years we have had Republicans blocking anything the president proposed without regard for the welfare of the American people. We hear that a woman who is raped cannot get pregnant because "her body will just shut down because of the violent nature of the attack." And now Mourdock, a Republican, claims it is God's will when a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape.

I believe all the Republican hate directed toward Obama has nothing to do with his political stance, but is a manifestation of a deeper troubling problem. The Republicans have become, "Looney Tunes." — Walter Wright, Medford