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Colleen Roberts profile

Jackson County commissioner candidate Colleen Roberts said she would work to improve government transparency and welcome more citizen input if elected.

Roberts, 57, of Prospect, said people need to feel invited and encouraged to speak before the board, but too often are discouraged because commissioners seem to make up their minds before listening to the public on issues, she said.

Roberts, the owner of Sensational Sweets bakery, deli and espresso business in Eagle Point, is facing real estate broker Joel Ockunzzi in the Republican primary for Position No. 3 during the May election. Commissioner John Rachor, who holds the position, is not running again.

Both Roberts and Ockunzzi ran unsuccessfully in 2012 for a seat that was won by current Commissioner Doug Breidenthal.

Roberts said government fees are rising faster than wage growth, causing businesses to fail and jobs to be lost. She would like to see ramped-up logging and mining on federal lands to help improve the economy.

"We have a vast wealth in our county in natural resources," she said.

Roberts said the county should be cautious about accepting state and federal grants, which often come with strings attached. Commissioners must weigh the benefits against the costs, she said.

She wants the government to adhere to the Constitution.

Roberts said the county needs to stand up to the federal government and use the Jackson County Sheriff's Department if necessary.

When the federal government shut down in October 2013 and locked gates to public lands, for example, she said she wanted the sheriff to open those gates.

"We need that spunk and we need that fire," Roberts said, adding she is proud of counties and states that stand up to the federal government.

The Board of Commissioners, which recently passed a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, will have to take up the issue of where, and under what conditions, dispensaries should be allowed in the county.

Roberts said she doesn't personally support drug use, but Oregon voters have approved medical marijuana and she will support that decision.

When it comes to funding the county library system, Roberts said she is against new taxes. Voters will decide in May whether to approve a library district funded by a new property tax of up to 60 cents per $1,000 in assessed value, or about $92.53 annually on a house assessed at $154,210, the average for Jackson County.

Roberts pointed out the county found enough money to fund libraries for the fiscal year that starts on July 1. She said the county should fund libraries, although they may have to get by on a shoestring budget.

County voters will also decide in May whether to ban the growing of genetically modified organisms.

"I believe our food sovereignty is at risk," Roberts said, adding that as a commissioner, she would support the vote of the people.

If the GMO ban passes, the county should enforce the ban in a common sense — not punitive — way. If it doesn't pass, organic farmers need to be helped, she said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Colleen Roberts profile