Former building inspector to run for county seat
When Buck Eichler was laid off as a Jackson County building inspector in 2008, he praised his former employers for taking steps to balance the budget even if it meant losing his own job.
Now one of those employers, Commissioner Dave Gilmour, has announced he will not seek re-election, so Eichler has decided to run for the position himself.
The former president of the Jackson County Employees Association, Eichler is the only Democrat to date to file for Gilmour's seat on the Board of Commissioners in the May 18 primary. Gilmour has endorsed Eichler for the job.
Eichler, a 58-year-old Medford resident, said the county has been moving in a positive fiscal direction and said he wants to continue that momentum if he is elected.
"The budget balance that has been done has been pretty good, pretty masterful in a way," said Eichler, who describes himself as a moderate Democrat,
When Eichler worked for the county, he accompanied Gilmour to Washington, D.C., to lobby for renewal of a timber payments program that is designed to help offset declines in revenue for counties with lots of federal forest land.
Eichler said he and Gilmour gave presentations to 28 members of Congress, encouraging them to renew the timber payments program.
He has endorsed the county's decision to use a private contractor to run the library system and has supported a pay raise for commissioners.
Eichler said the county's Development Services Department didn't have enough work to support its staff size, so the county was justified in letting him go.
"I try to see the big picture," he said. "We have to be responsive to the taxpayers, and that was appropriate."
Despite feeling that his layoff was justified, he said he also has felt the impact of losing a job and will work for job creation if elected.
Eichler said he has been a working person all his life and brings that perspective to his bid for the commissioner seat. Eichler said he has worked on other issues, such as health insurance, trying to persuade a sometimes reluctant membership to adopt plans that would save the county money.
For instance, changing brokers saved the county $30,000 annually, he said.
A more ambitious self-insurance proposal has undergone two years of research and debate, but has not been agreed to by the union.
"If we would have had self-insurance in 2007, it would have been $300,000 less," he said.
Bryan Platt, candidate recruitment chairman for the Jackson County Republican Central Committee, said he expects his party will find a candidate to run in the race.
"We do have a number of individuals who have expressed an interest in the vacant seat," Platt said.
He said he wouldn't reveal the names of any of the potential candidates until they have made a firm decision to run.
Platt said he didn't know enough about Eichler to comment on his qualifications.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail email@example.com.