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ELECTION LETTERS

My perception of Jackson County governance is that we are spending like the old days, without the income to support it, and are seeing a reduction in the size of our rainy- day fund as a result. If my family income was cut back, I would be reducing my discretionary spending and increasing my savings to protect myself in the long haul.

That's why I support Colleen Roberts for commissioner. She not only has a master's in business, she has 20 years' experience running one — and understands this basic economic principle.

Sure, we all want fancy buildings and large staffs to assist us — but right now the wisest strategy is to be lean and mean. When we can cut our own timber, we can let the good times roll. Colleen can get us there. Vote for Colleen Roberts, Jackson County commissioner. — Sanda Colleio, Central Point

I am amazed at the lack of truth in this county. Our voters' pamphlet states that there is a cap on the "district" tax of 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Sixty cents doesn't change, but the assessed value goes up every year along with your 3 percent automatic increase on assessed and real market value. In counties across our nation much wealthier than ours, I've never seen people being held hostage by such poor planning by a county government. Fifteen libraries in rural Jackson County with all the home computers and smartphones. We will need $70 million in 10 years minimum to run our 15 libraries. — Jeff Miller, Medford

Feel rich? "Big chemical" is spending nearly a million dollars to defeat the Right to Farm initiative 15-119. A million bucks is $5 for every person in Jackson County, pretty close to $10 for every voter, and if you figure typical "off year" 40 percent turnout, about $25 for everyone who drops in a ballot.

I've looked around Jackson County and wondered how many years of selling seeds it would take to make back a million dollars. What I do know is that a couple of big chemical companies are exercising their ability to control farming, whether it's in their financial interest or not. They want to set an example to small farmers anywhere in the country about what $25 a voter can do. What's good for the Jackson County economy is for our local farmers to keep our produce from being engineered so it can be marketed anywhere. — Tom Winter, Ashland

The consensus that it is time for a new sheriff is true. The time to vote is now and Bob Sergi is the candidate to vote for. His moral compass, stance and goals have stayed true.

I've listened to the other candidates tell the Upper Rogue voters what they want to hear, then tell Ashland voters what they want to hear. Please read your pamphlet. Bob Sergi is a man of integrity and tells the truth. With a 52 percent endorsement from the Sheriff's Employee Association vote, he is the man for the job; no other candidate came close. — Sheila M. Baker, Medford

Jackson County is blessed to have three qualified men running for sheriff. One has 12 years, another has 34 years of experience, but the third is the real deal. Although the youngest of the three, he has more than enough training, experience and leadership abilities to be our next sheriff.

Corey Falls has an incredible work ethic and is extremely motivated as he sets goals to achieve the best for his family and community. Corey is a great communicator and even a better listener as he takes in what people have to say to come up with solutions.

Corey's integrity is second to none, as he is one of the most straight-up guys I have ever met. He's running because of his passion to serve, a vision to make our county a safer place, and he has the energy to make it happen. Corey Falls is the real deal! — Chuck Ross, Medford

"The facts are clear." No! Syngenta is a Swiss multinational chemical corporation that is not permitted to grow GMOs in its own country. Syngenta has planted GMO sugar beets for seed crops in undisclosed plots in our valley. They bring porta potties, a crew, and the GMO sugar beet starts. When the beets have gone to seed they pull them up. They pay about $300 to lease an acre and make more than $1 million.

Syngenta has ignored the required four-mile radius to prevent cross-pollination. Local farmers discovered this and were forced to plow their crops of beets under, losing thousands of dollars. Who do we want to leave this valley: Syngenta, who has an in-and-out policy, or our local farmers that own land, pay taxes, and are actively contributing to our economy? Support our local family farmers! Vote yes on measure 15-119. — Karen Potts, Ashland

GMOs are defined in measure 15-119 as recombinant DNA plants, that have foreign genes from unrelated species forced into them. So only crops that had gene manipulation in laboratories, patented as inventions, are disallowed. Grains, hybrid fruits and veggies (pears, grapes, tomatoes, beans, and others) will stay legal. All hybrid plants used in gardens and landscapes will be fine. Disallowed will be GMO sugar beets, alfalfa, corn, and any genetically engineered crop that is considered an invention of the chemical corporations, which requires a legal contract to grow, and whose seed cannot be saved each year because it is owned by the patent holder. That's Monsanto and Syngenta.

This measure allows a year for farmers growing genetically engineered crops to switch out of declining markets, and into expanding markets for non-GMO crops and seeds. Detection would be by existing county personnel, though no violations are likely. Contracts won't be issued. — Steve Mitchell, Shady Cove

I would like to take a few moments to endorse Mike Winters for sheriff.

I've known Mike many years and have appreciated his no-nonsense style of making Jackson County a safer place to live and work. I believe his court battles on his major causes were in our best interests and the privacy of those involved. His background is from experience, not so much from college professors. Raiding pot grows in our surrounding counties serves us well. Most of these areas are within 2-3 hours of us, and in case you weren't aware, we are the commercial and population center for the whole area. The paper's arguments are lightweight. I believe one has to look at the whole picture.

Please join my family and re-elect Mike Winters for another term. — Eric Hunt, Medford

As a former employee of Jackson County for eight years, I worked on numerous enforcement issues. The main tactic of the anti 15-119 crowd is claiming that enforcing regulations banning GMOs would drain the county's budget. To instill fear in citizens by saying it will cripple law enforcement, close libraries, et cetera, is irresponsible.

The county doesn't have the resources to patrol and enforce every word of every ordinance. The measure honors this as it "Allows for enforcement "¦," it doesn't require it.

As for costing big GMO farmers their livelihood by having to "rip out their crops" as claimed: the measure is flexible but clear. They have more than a growing season to harvest their crops and replant.

Help protect the private property rights of traditional farmers and don't buy the chemical giants' scare tactics. Vote yes on 15-119. — Lin Bernhardt, Talent

Colleen Roberts has the qualifications and personality that we are looking for in a county commissioner. She is a wise woman, has an MBA and the experience we need in this position.

She has proven her concern and action to improve our community with her invaluable position as correspondent for the Upper Rogue Independent newspaper, often questioning the commissioners and always reporting to the hard-working public. Most importantly, Colleen believes in fiscal responsibility and transparency (that would be refreshing).

If you are disgusted and frustrated with the cronyism we have lived with in our county government and long for a commissioner who will lead with integrity, honesty and our best interest at heart. Please join me in ending our stream of "good ol' boys" and vote for Colleen Roberts, position 3. — Pat Wilcox, Medford

Stop the presses! A key component of this debate has been conveniently left out.

Cross-pollination of GMO crops to organic crops can only happen between "like" plants. Corn can't cross-pollinate tomatoes and alfalfa can't cross-pollinate corn or lettuce. Sugar beets can cross-pollinate Swiss chard because they are from the same family. My point is, we have very few competing GMO/organic crops in Jackson County, and the state of Oregon is expected to present a statewide plan for coexistence sometime this year.

By passing 15-119 at this time, we risk losing both the benefits and legal protection from the Oregon plan. — Robert Doyal, Medford

An article in the Mail Tribune on May 8 states that with increased concentration of carbon dioxide that comes with climate change could mean basic food plants will have lower concentrations of protein, zinc and iron. Scientists studied grains grown at elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide that are predicted for this century.

No matter your views on climate change, this is a concern. An estimated 2 billion people worldwide are deficient in zinc and iron despite iron and zinc supplementation. Samuel Meyers of the Harvard School of Public Health said work is under way to develop "biofortified crops and to develop new cultivars that are less sensitive to the elevated carbon dioxide levels" — in other words — GMOs! Our small valley may not solve the world's food supply nutrient problem but we cannot label GMOs as unhealthy or risky. — D. Stewart, Central Point

The annual migration of monarch butterflies has been declining for several years. The number of butterflies migrating across the United States and Canada to their winter homes in California and Mexico is down from an average of 350 million to around 33 million.

Over the past 15 years, industrial agriculture has expanded its use of genetically modified crops resistant to Roundup and has increased its use of Roundup, an herbicide that kills milkweed. Consequently, milkweed has been nearly exterminated across much of the United States. As milkweed is the only plant on which monarchs lay their eggs, the result has been loss of habitat for the monarchs, and a steady decline in their numbers.

I do not want to risk upsetting a similar balance of nature in our valley, so my vote on Measure 15-119 will be a resounding yes. Something to think about before casting your vote. — Marti Hawes, Eagle Point

Republicans have an important choice before them when voting for the next county commissioner, position 3. They can choose Joel Ockunzzi, who is the consummate good old boy, and who's under the thumb of the Chamber of Commerce. Joel's professional experience consists of being a salesman, and he possesses little financial experience.

On the other hand, there's Colleen Roberts. Colleen will represent you and common folks like me. She'll listen to you, and not to special interest groups. She'll keep county bureaucracy and your taxes low. Colleen is a small-business owner with a master's degree in business with a concentration in finance. Joel does not possess a college degree.

Considering that the main function of a county commissioner is the planning, formation and implementation of the county's $300 million annual budget, then there's only one qualified candidate in this race, and it's Colleen Roberts. Vote for Colleen Roberts! — Curt Ankerberg, CPA, Medford

I'm not opening a Pandora's Box for controversy here, just sharing what swayed me to vote yes for measure 15-119.

Short of a confined greenhouse, the Rogue Valley, surrounded as it is by mountains, may be one of few geographical areas suited for a virtual test laboratory in containing non-GMO crops.

The results may not be of much value for some time, though they may be of utmost importance in the future. — Pat Weber, Ashland

We are about to vote on whether we want to keep our OSU Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center.

Anyone who is unfamiliar with these programs may conclude that they can just as easily live without them. However, choosing to live without them may result in a far greater cost to the community, not only in terms of the dollars they generate for local businesses but also in terms of the educational and cultural influences that will be lost.

Jackson County's Research and Extension have, for a century, been the cornerstone upon which our rural-agricultural heritage as well as our present-day modern life depends. The future will be determined by the vote you cast. Vote yes for Measure 15-121. — Rich and Dianne DiVita, Central Point

I was born and raised here in this valley. My father grew pears,as an independent orchardist. He relied upon the Extension for pest and disease control information, etc. Established here some 100 years ago, the Extension continues to remain as an important resource to our agricultural economy, even today.

We are now faced with some choices in Measure 15-121. Do we continue to provide funding for the Extension or do we discontinue it? Several facts to think about: Without county funding (10 percent), the state will not make up for the shortfall. There are 11 branch stations in Oregon. Each one is tailored to the area that it serves (climate, soil, growing conditions, etc.). We lose our Extension, we lose a lot. It is not just about Master Gardeners or 4-H; it is about our agricultural economy. Join me in Support of 15-121 and vote yes. — Bill Mohr, JCMGA Class of 2011, Central Point

Regarding GMOs, it may be cynical, but wise, to say "Follow the money." Anyone wonder why our Legislature took such hasty action on this issue? Election funding maybe?

DDT was once considered "safe." So were other man-made chemicals and compounds. What could go wrong?

Genetic manipulation is not hybridization and science has developed plants that are not only chemical resistant, but toxic to organisms and pests. What about the massive, by the billion, die-off of honey bees? Any connection? Want to risk not only bees, but all pollinators when the science is funded directly or indirectly by those benefitting from GMO expansion?

No, a wiser course is to wait, as many nations are doing. When eventually settled proof evolves, Jackson County ordinances can be changed. In the meantime, think; then vote yes on 15-119. — Don Skillman, Talent

This past year I have learned amazing things about Extension.

I learned that our Master Gardener program is the largest countywide program in the state (only the city of Portland's is larger). I learned that about 1,500 youth participate in 4-H each year, not only raising animals but learning about the arts, budgeting, the science of clean water and healthy forests, public speaking, computers, community and youth leadership, and more. I learned that Extension holds more than 200 classes each year covering things like how to thin forests, prune trees, make compost, preserve food and age in a healthy way. I learned that Extension supports a natural resources education program that reaches out to in our local area schools. I learned that in 2012 the Extension responded to more than 40,000 individual contacts.

I learned how important it is to vote yes on Measure 15-121. — Jack Duggan, Applegate

Guess I don't understand the flap about GMO-modified agriculture. With over 7 billion folks on the planet now, and 10 billion projected in just 30 years, and with folks already starving, why would anyone want to throw a roadblock on our ability to produce increases in food production technology?

Coupled with global warming that is already limiting food production due to water shortages, we need to either get a handle on the global population explosion or figure out how to produce more food with less land and water. I don't see a need to restrict enhanced food production for the sake of folks growing designer food for the wealthy.

I can buy three or four cans of store-brand soup for the cost of one Amy's Kitchen organic, and I expect that the store-brand stuff contains GMO-enhanced ingredients. Ask me if I care. — Guy Parker, Prospect