Strosser wins big over Breidenthal
Former Medford City Councilor Bob Strosser won the Republican primary battle for Position 2 on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners by a healthy margin Tuesday, with incumbent Doug Breidenthal finishing last in a three-way race.
Strosser will face Democrat Jeff Thomas in the November general election. Thomas, chairman of the Medford School Board, had no rivals in the Democratic primary.
In the latest returns, Strosser had 10,478 votes, or 46.5 percent, compared with 5,866 votes, or 26 percent, for Breidenthal and 6,107 votes, or 27 percent, for businessman Gordon Challstrom.
The Republican primary was hotly contested, in large part because Breidenthal is under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice for campaign contributions he received during his successful campaign to be named president of the National Association of Counties' Western Interstate Region. Contributions came from organizations that have business before the Board of Commissioners.
Breidenthal also has faced criticism for his extensive travel.
Strosser said he feels gratified by the early election results that show he has a sizable lead, although he is not declaring victory yet.
"I know this was a difficult race, with a lot of emotions involved," he said.
As for the message voters may be sending, Strosser said, "I think they're saying they want to have trust in the people they elect and they want that person here in Jackson County."
During the primary campaign, several prominent members of Jackson County's Republican establishment endorsed Strosser in his bid to unseat Breidenthal.
Reached by phone Tuesday night, Breidenthal said, "At this point, I have no comment."
Breidenthal cited his experience as a key reason voters should retain him in office.
Strosser, a principal broker with Coldwell Pro West in Medford, a former Medford city councilor and a former law enforcement officer, also cited his experience with government both professionally and as a community volunteer on boards, commissions and committees.
Challstrom, president of the Rogue Solutions contracting company, campaigned on a plank to make Jackson County more business-friendly. He said fees and regulations are a burden on local businesses.
Challstrom could not be immediately reached for comment.
During the campaign, Breidenthal said he would take an approved pay raise that would bump his salary to $105,331 in January 2017, while Strosser and Challstrom both said they would take less than authorized.
Strosser said he would consider accepting $68,432 — the amount sitting Commissioner Colleen Roberts takes because of her objections to commissioners' salaries — and Challstrom pledged to accept $72,000 if elected.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.