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David Gilmour, Ric Holt butt heads for county slot

Central Point physician and Democrat David Gilmour said he's running for Jackson County commissioner because the current board ignores its constituents and acts as a rubber stamp.

Gilmour claims his opponent ' Republican incumbent Ric Holt ' spends more time escorting visitors into the old county courthouse than delving into the issues.

He's like one of the Wal-mart greeters, said Gilmour. If the job is primarily ceremonial, then Ric would do a better job.

Well, what's wrong with that? responded Holt, defending his folksy demeanor. I'm a friend to everybody.

Holt and Gilmour will face off for county commissioner position No. — in the Nov. 5 election.

Although the two candidates disagree on many issues, they're united on at least one opinion ' the choice facing voters in the upcoming election.

Our race is black and white, said Holt. There's no question about it.

Holt has served as commissioner for 12 years. He's been a popular figure in parts of the community, and his flamboyant nature has drawn staunch supporters, from small business owners to the local timber industry.

If re-elected, Holt said his priorities will include supporting programs to prevent and treat drug and alcohol abuse and increasing the care provided to the mentally ill.

Holt also supports salvaging burned timber on federal lands and using the tax revenues to support schools and county government.

We've got &

36;1 billion of timber that's going to rot, (get) beetle infestation, that could be salvaged, Holt said.

Its unclear if Holt's proposal is feasible, and many questions remain. However, Holt is optimistic about the plan.

You can do damn near anything you want to do if you put a mind to it, he added.

Holt, 64, lives in rural Ashland and has five children.

He came to Southern Oregon in 1984 after a series of jobs that ranged from restaurant management to marketing to supervising service stations.

Holt was raised in the San Fernando Valley and entered the Air Force before completing high school. He later earned an equivalency diploma while in the service.

His government experience before becoming a commissioner includes service on the county's parks and recreation advisory committee and Fire District 5's budget committee.

His accomplishments with the county include organizing a timber summit in 1993, and helping reopen a rail line over the Siskiyous in 1995.

Gilmour brings political accomplishments to the table from his service with the Central Point City Council.

As a councilman, Gilmour was a driving force in passing a citywide ordinance restricting smoking in certain public places.

He also worked to force the county to address noise and traffic issues before it began work on an outdoor amphitheater at the Jackson County Expo.

If elected, Gilmour said his first priorities include slashing commissioners' pay by half and increasing the board from three to five members.

He also favors holding county meetings at night so working residents can attend, and improving the relationship between city and county governments.

We really need to change county government now, in a big way, he added. (The current board) has given the appearance that they're doing more than they actually are.

Other priorities include increasing rural sheriff's patrols, simplifying the permit process and tightening the chain of command in county government, he said.

Gilmour was born in Massachusetts and raised in New York.

He earned degrees from Dartmouth College, Milton Hershey Medical School and Pennsylvania State University.

During a two-year stint with the Peace Corps, Gilmour met his wife, Sera, while serving in Samoa. The couple, who have two children, moved to the Rogue Valley in 1981.

In addition to the City Council, Gilmour has served on the Central Point school board. He also served as Jackson County's public health officer.

Reach reporter Jill Briskey at 776-4485, or e-mail

County commissioners' attendance is an issue During the 2002 Jackson County commissioner race, opponents have publicly criticized the attendance records of incumbents Ric Holt and Jack Walker.

Opponents ' including commissioner candidates Dave Gilmour and John Hallett ' claim Walker and Holt frequently miss public meetings and accuse the current board of mismanaging its time.

According to records from the old county courthouse, commissioners held 99 staff meetings, work sessions, public hearings and regular Wednesday meetings between September 2001 and September 2002.

Minutes from those meetings show Holt was absent from three meetings, while Walker missed 11.

Sue Kupillas, who is not facing re-election in November, missed 15 meetings. However, many of Kupillas' absences stemmed from surgery and recovery.

County executive secretary Donna Bladek said a handful of additional meetings took place between January and September 2002, but the minutes have not been recorded and accepted.

The number of meetings not included in county files ' and commissioners' attendance at those meetings ' were not available on Wednesday.