On Jefferson County Board of Commissioners

by: STEPHANIE RODERICK - Commission candidates from left, Mike Ahern and Floyd Paye (Position 2), Sheriff Jim Adkins, CRR association President Ben Johnson, and Tom Brown, Mae Huston and Mike Throop (Position 1) attend a candidate forum at Crooked River Ranch April 17.A crowd of Crooked River Ranch residents packed the Juniper Room last Thursday evening for an event dedicated to meeting the candidates running to hold a seat on the Jefferson County Commission.

Five candidates are vying for two positions: Mae Huston, Tom Brown and Mike Throop for Position 1, and Floyd Paye and Mike Ahern, who is looking to get re-elected, for Position 2. Both positions are nonpartisan.

The evening was meant to give the community an opportunity to hear candidates offer information about themselves and what they plan on working toward if elected, and answer questions from the audience.

President of the CRR Club and Maintenance Association Ben Johnson opened the meeting at 6:30 sharp, first by introducing Sheriff Jim Adkins, who also attended. Adkins made a brief statement, noting, “I'm looking forward to meeting each and every one of you," referring to Ranch residents.

As the candidate introductions began, residents heard first from Mike Throop, who said he has a “commitment to community service.”

He went on to explain that his areas of concern were with mental health and the lack of qualified providers, as well as bringing in manufacturing and “businesses that pay a good family wage.”

Throop also said he would like to work toward “upgrading the fairgrounds,” and he would like to see “increased citizen involvement.”

Mae Huston, also running for seat number one, is a transplant from Gresham in Multnomah County. Locally, she worked for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Huston said her reason for running was that she would “like to guard the good financial situation that Jefferson County is in.”

She added that she would like to “see that the county continues to do what it is supposed to do and not stray,'" and it's “time for new blood."

Third candidate for seat number one, Tom Brown, was born in Redmond and raised in Madras, and is a local business owner. He explained that the duties of the commissioners are “planning and setting policy.”

“We listen to people,” he said.

“Remember, government doesn't create jobs, business creates jobs,” said Brown.

Hoping to beat out Ahern for seat number two was Floyd Paye, a 30-year veteran of the Jefferson County Public Works Department, who runs his own business on the weekends.

He told Ranch residents that “we need economics in the community as a whole” and that he will listen to the citizens.

Ahern, who has served on the commission for the past eight years, is hoping to win re-election. He opened with statistics, saying that Crooked River Ranch makes up for 22 percent of the tax base and 25 percent of the voters.

Ahern went on to say that “We have changed the way the county is run, better services for less money,” he said.

“I'm proud of the county; it would be an honor to be re-elected,” he said.

As the meeting progressed, Ranch residents had the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates. One resident asked if the commission positions are paid or voluntary?

Throop replied that “They are paid, but not much,” and they “provide insurance” he said.

From the audience you could hear whispering of “How much?” and Ahern responded that the pay was about $30,000 a year.

Many of the questions asked during the evening consisted of residents looking for definitive answers on whether or not the candidates would back them up on their personal issues at the Ranch.

One resident asked when and where the commissioners meet, and Ahern responded that they meet the first, second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, beginning at 8:15 a.m. The meetings are open to public comment at 9 a.m.

Ranch resident and association board member Mitch Poppert inquired about releasing more funds to get more police patrolling on the Ranch.

Brown responded that it would consist of “balancing what it would take to have a deputy out here versus driving back and forth."

All candidates agreed that a resident deputy on the Ranch would be a benefit to the community. Another resident suggested greater use of reserve officers on the Ranch.

Adkins explained that they did have one reserve that patrolled the Ranch but he had been out on a back injury.

When asked if the candidates had an open door policy and would be available for contact if residents needed to reach them, candidates were eager to respond that they were easily accessible and available to speak with residents when needed.

The meeting closed around 8:30 p.m., after which residents and candidates had the opportunity to speak one on one.

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