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Grants Pass resident to challenge Sen. Jason Atkinson in primary

Grants Pass area resident Herman Baertschiger is making a run in the GOP primary election against State Sen. Jason Atkinson of Central Point.

"I really believe our representation is not in tune with our area," Baertschiger said in announcing his 2nd District candidacy on Wednesday. "That is especially important in these tumultuous times.

"And I think the people are looking for a little more consistency in our leadership," he added. "The conservative values and principles aren't being represented. We need a straight conservative approach to solve our problems."

A former state representative, Republican Atkinson was first elected to the Senate seat in 2001 and was twice re-elected. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006.

The district includes the lion's share of Josephine County and the western portion of central Jackson County. The primary election is May 15. March 6 is the last day for candidates to file for nonpartisan or major party office in Oregon.

Noting he has operated his own business since he was 19, Baertschiger, 52, said he would provide conservative leadership while working to increase employment in the region.

"I've been signing the front side of paychecks for a lot of years," he said, noting his long suit is in natural resources.

"I know how to help create jobs."

Baertschiger is the owner of HB Company Inc., which he describes as a forestry-based company specializing in forest commodities production, fuels reduction, biomass and wildland fire suppression.

He says his firm employs up to 40 to 50 seasonal workers. Baertschiger is also a part-time instructor in wildland fire science at Rogue Community College.

"The No. 1 issue is the economy," he said. "One area we can work on is creating jobs.

"There are multiple things we can do," he said. "Increasing timber jobs is one avenue. But in the short run timber jobs are not going to be as significant as some would like to believe. We need to pursue every avenue we can."

That includes making Oregon more attractive to out-of-state businesses, he said.

"Oregon is not a business-friendly state," Baertschiger said.

"We need to start attracting new business to the state. That is going to take some work.

"We can slowly start turning the ship around," he added. "It is not going to happen overnight, but we need to start as soon as possible."

Baertschiger said he would file his candidacy with the Secretary of State's office by the end of the week.

A longtime Josephine County resident, he has served on the Josephine County Airport Advisory Board, the Josephine County Forestry Board, the Josephine County Agriculture Board and the Josephine County Fire Plan Committee. He chaired the Grants Pass River Road Reserve Task Force.

He has served as chairman of the Fort Vannoy Irrigation District and of the Grants Pass Active Club, which sponsors the annual Boatnik celebration each Memorial Day weekend.

He and his wife, Leta, have two grown sons. They live on a small ranch west of Grants Pass.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or email pfattig@mailtribune.com.