Commissioner Re-Election Bids Fail

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, May 16 2012 at 4:49 PM, Updated: Wed, May 16 2012 at 5:01 PM

Klamath County voters have sent two incumbent commissioners packing. 

Incumbent commissioner Cheryl Hukill believes a combination of issues may have cost her the election...

"I know that the issues of the KBRA and dam removal, and also you know, some of the issues that happened in our office over the past two years - with the treasurer, and the assessor."

Former treasurer Mike Long and former assessor Don Ringgold were both subjects of state department of justice investigations.

Incumbent Al Switzer was voted out after serving four terms in office...

"Well, I'm glad we ran a positive camapaign, I'm thankful that I will have spent 16 years in office when I leave - and that's something nobody else has done in the county."

Beatty area rancher Tom Mallams came out on top in his race to unseat Switzer.  Retired businessman James Bellet defeated commissioner Hukill.

Commissioner Dennis Linthicum believes their stance against dam removal appealed to voters...

"I don't think it was so much anti-incumbency, as the KBRA, dam removal agreements."

And that message caught the incumbent commissioners off guard...

"My reaction was, I was surprised - and yet, I realize that the voters have spoken."  Noted commissioner Hukill.

Both Mallams and Bellet captured about 43% of the vote in their 4 candidate races.

Mallams will face democrat Ted Lindow in the November general election.

No opponents have yet come forward to challenge James Bellet in the race for commissioner position 3.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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