A retired millwright and bee keeper is challenging Commissioner C.W. Smith in the Republican primary race on May 20.

A retired millwright and bee keeper is challenging Commissioner C.W. Smith in the Republican primary race on May 20.

Morris "Bub" Saltekoff wants to keep taxes low while finding a solution for the loss of $23 million annually from the federal county payments program.

The 65-year-old Gold Hill resident describes himself as just an average guy who isn't much different than Smith.

"I've got a prettier face," he joked. "I get up in the morning and put my clothes on like everybody else."

Saltekoff, who said he shows up at campaign forums wearing his suspenders, said the county has problems, particularly dealing with the economy and the loss of jobs.

He said that as he talks to people during the campaign, he gets the sense that a lot of people are concerned about the direction the county is heading and about Smith's leadership.

"I've been hearing a lot of bad things about C.W.," he said. "A lot of people are not happy with him."

Saltekoff said the county needs to do more to listen to people from all areas of the county and particularly pay heed to the impact the faltering economy is having on residents.

Smith said the county has gone through some rough financial times because of the loss of federal funds, but he's hoping that the roller-coaster ride will even out

"I am confident were going to be a lot more stable than we have since 1984," said the Eagle Point resident, who has been commissioner for one term.

Smith said he has been active at both the state and federal level to find a long-range solution to the loss of timber dollars.

He's also created a task force of local residents who have made recommendations to deal with the county's budget situation.

The county has streamlined and consolidated services where possible, he said.

While the county has been forced to lay off workers, Smith said, "We're in a lot better shape than other counties because of the steps we have taken."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.