Non-Partisan Commissioner Proposal

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Mon, September 10 2012 at 4:43 PM, Updated: Mon, September 10 2012 at 4:54 PM

An effort is underway to make Klamath County commissioner offices non-partisan elected positions.  The League of Women Voters in Klamath County wants to put the issue on the ballot next May.

Eight of Nine commissioner candidates in Klamath County's May primary were republicans...and many democrats temporarily changed their party affiliation just so their vote would count.

Leslie Lowe of the League of Women Voters of Klamath County thinks having a non-partisan commissioner race would help to fix the problem...

"The entire county, then, in terms of registered voters, needs to be able to select who at a local level is going to manage the way we run our county."

Backers collected over 400 signatures urging the Klamath County commissioners to place the issue on the November ballot...but the commissioners rejected the idea last week.

"At some point, you have to draw a line."  Says Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum.  "Do you do it for ten signatures, or forty, or four hundred - or sixteen hundred?"

Lowe says the League of Women Voters will now work to collect those 1600 signatures by March to place the issue on the May ballot...

"Most recently, Coos County and Polk County have put it to the electorate, and the electorate at 75% chose to go with the non-partisan."

Commissioner Linthicum argues that parties help voters pick candidates that reflect their own views...

"I would be actually reluctant to run in a non-partisan world."  Notes Linthicum.  "Because you don't really know the philosophic foundations for the individual that you're campaigning against."

But, it's a strong possibility that voters will have the final word. 

Republicans outnumber Democrats in Klamath County by about a two-to-one margin.

Lone Democratic candidate Ted Lindow has withdrawn from the race for commissioner position #1...

Republican Tom Mallams will face Independent Party challenger Kirk Oakes in that race.

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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