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Breidenthal faces second challenger

A Medford Republican who ran for governor in 2012 is the latest challenger for the Jackson County commissioner seat now held by Doug Breidenthal.

Gordon Challstrom, 60, joins former Medford City Councilor Bob Strosser in filing for the Republican primary. Jeff Thomas, a Democrat, also filed candidacy papers.

Breidenthal ran for commissioner partly on the promise that he would increase timber harvests, Challstrom said.

“What has he done?” Challstrom said. “How effective do you think Doug has been as a county commissioner?”

Challstrom said he, unlike other politicians, will make good on his promise to open up forests for more logging to increase the number of good-paying jobs in Jackson County.

“Politicians make a lot of promises,” Challstrom said. “When they come up for re-election, they make the same promises.”

Challstrom cited Ashland’s successful thinning operation in its watershed as the type of logging operation that could be expanded to other areas of the county.

Local officials need to do a better job of coordinating their efforts with federal agencies to increase timber harvests, he said.

“We found a way to do it in Ashland,” he said. “Now we’ve got to find a way to do it in the rest of the county.”

Challstrom has lived in Medford since 1993 and owns a construction business, Rogue Solutions Inc. He and his wife, Mary, have five children and seven grandchildren. He has a degree in business management.

If elected, he said, he would push for a smaller, smarter county government that has a focus on creating jobs.

“My purpose is to make the county more prosperous,” Challstrom said.

Challstrom also said he thinks the county could do more to discourage laws that weaken the right to bear arms.

Breidenthal has been criticized for traveling extensively during his three years as a commissioner. Breidenthal is also under investigation by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission over a campaign travel account.

Challstrom said he acknowledges that he considers Breidenthal “vulnerable” with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission investigation hanging over his head and the criticism of his extensive traveling.

Ken Fawcett, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party, said he’s not seen many instances of incumbents being challenged. In 2010, former County Commissioner Jack Walker was unseated in the primary by Don Skundrick, who went on to win the general election.

Fawcett said he generally encourages people to come into a race and take on issues that are important to the valley.

“Incumbents are usually pretty safe,” he said. “But with this lingering situation with Doug … he’s working through this.”

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.

Gordon Challstrom