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Bob Strosser

Former Medford City Councilor Bob Strosser said his decades of public service have prepared him to serve on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

Strosser faces incumbent Doug Breidenthal and fellow challenger Gordon Challstrom in the Republican primary election on May 17 for Position 2 on the board. In November, the winner of the primary is expected to face Jeff Thomas, who has no opposition in the Democratic primary.

"I've spent most of my adult life in public service in one way or another," Strosser said. "I've had a passion to do that. This valley is our home and I want to make sure we take care of it."

Strosser, 71, is a principal broker with Coldwell Pro West and previously worked in law enforcement in California, retiring at the rank of commander. He has won the endorsement of many past and present community leaders, including past Commissioners Don Skundrick, John Rachor and C.W. Smith and retired Medford police Chief Tim George.

Strosser served 16 years on the Medford City Council, four of them as council president. He has been a member or council liaison to the League of Oregon Cities board, SOREDI, Hospital Facilities Board, Medford Budget Committee, Police Advisory Committee, Medford Water Commission and the Jackson County Veterans Committee. He has a bachelor's degree in public management from Pepperdine University.

Strosser said he supports economic development efforts and wants to focus on small businesses, which he called the lifeblood of the local economy. He said leaders need to be cautious about offering incentives that attract new businesses but compete with and harm existing businesses.

"A lot of people go for big employers. But when they get a better deal elsewhere, they take it. Our principal focus should be to attract and retain small businesses. If you can get a large employer, great — but don't put all your eggs in one basket," he said.

On the issue of marijuana, Strosser said state voters spoke when they voted in 2014 to legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon. He said  commissioners need to proceed cautiously in changing the county's current rules prohibiting for-profit farm uses on rural residential land.

"You could end up with a slaughterhouse or hog farm right next to your rural home," he said.

On the issue of commissioner pay, Strosser said he is not running for office because of the money. Salaries for the three sitting commissioners will bump up past $100,000 each in January 2017.

Breidenthal said he will take the full salary if re-elected. Challstrom has pledged to accept $72,000 if elected.

Current Commissioner Colleen Roberts is taking less than her full salary and receives $68,432.

"I wouldn't have any reservation in matching Colleen Roberts' position on pay," Strosser said.

Strosser said he is also open to proposals to turn the three-member Board of Commissioners into a five-member board. He said the pay currently going to three commissioners could be split among the five.

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

Bob Strosser