Race for Yamhill County commissioner presents three vastly different candidates
(Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the late addition of a third candidate for county commissioner, David Wall)
Rick Olson's announcement in March that he would not seek a second term on the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners guarantees there will be a change in the complexion of the three-person board next January as three individuals have mounted campaigns: Lindsay Berschauer, Barbara Boyer and David Wall.
The trio have different reasons for running for Position 2 on the county's highest office. Boyer's campaign platform concentrates on jobs and building communities, while Berschauer's reasons for running center more on protecting personal property rights, taxpayers' money and individual freedoms.
Attempts to contact Wall for comment were unsuccessful, but he indicated in filing for the position that his platform includes supporting agriculture, farms and wetlands, reducing taxes and expanding recycling and creating a free yard waste disposal system in the county. Wall ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat incumbent Mary Starrett on the commission in the May 2018 primary.
Wall, who earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from San Jose State University and last worked at a water pollution control plant laboratory in that town before retiring, has no prior government experience: "I consider myself the 'alternative' candidate. I am not aligned with one commissioner or the other."
His website curtly lays out the planks in his campaign platform, saying he supports agriculture and insists "our farms and wetlands must be mercilessly protected." He advocates for returning the land on which the Yamhelas Trail is to be constructed to nearby farmers; argues that the county's first job is to protect public health and safety; supports revoking permits for bars in neighborhoods, tough code enforcement and increased sobriety checks; wants mandatory public bidding on tax-foreclosed properties and supports diversity training for county employees.
Boyer, a McMinnville resident, has a bachelor's degree in plant science from the University of Connecticut and is a self-employed farmer with a background in the nursery industry. The 53-year-old is chairwoman of the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District, a member of the Oregon State Board of Agriculture since 2011 and began serving on the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board in 2018.
Berschauer is self-employed as president of a public affairs/marketing company and has a bachelor's degree in justice studies from Arizona State University. The 39-year-old Carlton resident is a current member of the Yamhill County Budget Committee, the YCAP board of directors and a former board member of the now defunct Newberg Rural Fire Protection District.
During her campaign, Boyer is concentrating on maintaining county residents' quality of living as the area becomes more populated.
"We are at an important time in Yamhill County," she said in an email. "Growth is inevitable and being thoughtful to help keep our current culture while embracing growth (is important)."
Her ultimate goal is simple, but has proven difficult in this age of commuter workers.
"I want people to live and work in Yamhill County," she said. "(If elected) I will explore bringing in more trade sector jobs as a way to support the local sector for a more healthy and vibrant county. I see this as building stronger community members who run for local positions such as city council, school board or first district."
If elected, Berschauer will take a different tack.
"I am running to serve as a county commissioner because I believe the position serves as the last line of defense for protecting our residents' personal property rights, their checkbooks and their individual freedoms," she said in an email. "The state legislature continues to push more and more invasive legislation to the counties and we need to elect a commissioner that seeks to protect our way of life and our working families."
In campaign filings and posts on Wall's website, the retired chemist often concentrates on tax issues. "Your vote will enable me to protect the most vulnerable … the Yamhill County taxpayer," he said, adding that he favors reducing taxes as well as municipal services fees.
Boyer points to her experience working as chairwoman of the Soil and Water Conservation District as preparation for being a commissioner.
"I have been running a county (agency) on a different scale," she said. "My skills are transferable as I understand ethics in an elected position."
She added that her past experience gives her a leg up on governing at the county level.
"Sitting on boards and commissions across the state, I understand the importance of relationships and the value they bring to making decisions," she said.
Berschauer has been concentrating lately on reaching out to her potential constituents as the May primary election approaches.
"I have focused on meeting with voters, listening to their concerns and testifying on their behalf since I announced my candidacy last May," she said.
Boyer said her approach to county governance, should she be elected, will be facts-based and deliberate.
"I am a creative thinker and make decisions based on information (and) not being swayed by a personal agenda," she said, adding that she has appeared at "dozens of living room parties" and has listening sessions scheduled in McMinnville, Newberg and Willamina in the ramp up to the May primary.
In campaigning, Berschauer has concentrated on fiscal management at the county level and how she will continue that if elected."Our past county commissioners held the line on spending and built up reserves to keep the county afloat in economic downturns," she said. "However, rising costs are starting to eat into those reserves. … We need to keep fiscally conservative commissioners elected so we don't have to cut critical services or staff if the economy slows."
As commissioner, Berschauer said she would also be pro-family and face up to the infringement of outside agencies that don't have residents' best interests at heart.
"We need to elect a commissioner who isn't afraid to advocate for our families at any level," she said. "What might be good for Multnomah County or Metro, isn't necessarily good for us."
The other two positions on the commission are held by first-term commissioner Casey Kulla and second-term commissioner Mary Starrett. Neither is up for re-election in the May primary. If Boyer, Berschauer or Wall gather 50 percent or more of the votes in the primary, they will win the election outright. Otherwise the top two vote getters will progress to a runoff in the fall.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.