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County commissioners likely to retain seats

Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts gets a hug during the Republicans’ election results-viewing party at the Rogue Valley Country Club in Medford Tuesday evening. Roberts and County Commissioner Rick Dyer were winning their reelection bids, according to early election results. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Jackson County Commissioners Rick Dyer and Colleen Roberts were winning their reelection bids according to early election returns Tuesday night. [File photos]

Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer, Republican, was fending off Democratic challenger Denise Krause while County Commissioner Colleen Roberts, Republican, was leading against her Independent opponent Al Densmore, according to unofficial election results posted at 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Dyer received 58.1% of the vote, or 54,279 votes, compared with 41.8% of the vote, or 39,027 votes, for Krause.

“I think we’re looking good,” Dyer said on election night. “I don’t take anything for granted. I’m honored and humbled that people put their confidence in me.”

Roberts received 54.9% of the vote, or 50,470 votes, compared with 45% of the vote, or 41,352 votes, for Densmore.

“I’m very delighted and appreciative of the voters for their confidence and trust in me,” Roberts said on election night.

Both Dyer and Roberts appeared to be winning reelection to their third terms in office. They said they want to continue making fiscally responsible decisions for Jackson County, which is in strong financial shape. Jackson County’s budget for the current fiscal year includes $209 million in reserves.

“Coming into uncertain economic times, we need to keep the same fiscal policy in place so we can navigate through without having to cut services or employees,” Dyer said.

Roberts and Dyer pushed for agencies that manage public lands to more aggressively fight wildfires, and they spoke out against state mandates that shuttered businesses and schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roberts said Jackson County commissioners are reaching out and starting to work more closely with local leaders serving in the Oregon Legislature, whether those legislators are Republicans or Democrats. Commissioners want more voice on issues that affect Southern Oregon, a region that often gets left out when decisions are made in Salem, she said.

“It will be a great thing for our residents,” Roberts said of the collaboration.

Dyer said issues he wants to keep working on include homelessness, affordable housing, wildfire and smoke, and illegal marijuana operations.

“They’re all important. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.

In her bid to unseat Dyer, Krause said county commissioners should show more leadership by bringing the county, cities and other groups together to tackle issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries. She said she wanted to see the county develop strategic plans on issues from water scarcity to homelessness.

In his campaign, Densmore said he wanted the county commissioner post to be nonpartisan. He favored boosting the number of commissioners from three to five and having them elected by districts, rather than countywide. Those changes would require approval from voters.

Final election results won’t be known for days or weeks. This year, ballots postmarked by election day will be counted. In previous years, mailed ballots had to reach elections offices by election day in order to count.

The third member of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, Dave Dotterrer, was not up for reelection this year. All three commissioners are Republicans.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.