In May 2016, we will have the opportunity to vote for two of the three Klamath County Commissioners. Position #1, currently held by Tom Mallams, and Position #3, currently held by Jim Bellet, will both be on the ballot. For position #1 there seems to be a long line of people interested in taking on Mallams, while on the other hand Bellet has only one challenger so far.
2014 was the first time the County Commissioners race was non-partisan. What this means is that Republicans and Democrats do not use the May primary to pick their favorite candidate to run in the general election held in November. Instead everyone is on the ballot, no matter of party affiliation, and the two candidates with the most votes in May face-off in November. The only exception is if someone receives over 50% of the votes in May, then that person automatically wins the seat. This is what happened with Kelly Minty-Morris in 2014, as she secured over 50% in May primary and did not have to run again in November.
What Should Conservatives Look For In A Good Candidate?
First and foremost, we need County Commissioners that are unequivocally committed to limited government. This means lower taxes, lower regulation and less government, not more of it. While County Commissioners are really an extension of State decisions, County Commissioners do have power to keep local tax measures from easily making their way onto our ballots. They also have the ability to wisely manage the budget and to not over-spend. Moreover they can avoid supporting programs that benefit a few, but are paid for by everyone else.
Smaller government can also mean government outsourcing — also known as privatizing services. There is no sound reason we should continue to employ the most expensive people possible (government employees with premium healthcare and pensions) to run non-essential government services such as the county museum, the county library or to drive and maintain school busses. Privatizing these services would save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars and still provide the same (and often) better levels of service. The only reasons these services are still run by government employees is politics — not economics and certainly not quality of service. With privatization, businesses selected that don't meet the quality expected by public can be fired by the County Commissioners and a new group hired. Ask any Commissioner how hard it is to fire just one awful government employee let alone make wholesale changes to an entire service without public union reps standing in their way.
Second we need commissioners who will stand for our 2nd amendment rights. According to State Senator Whitsett, the Democrats in Salem are working hard to let almost anyone anonymously call a special hotline and ban you from gun purchases because you will be declared mentally unfit. We need county commissioners that will stand publicly and lead the charge against such usurpation of our 2nd amendment rights.
Finally we need County Commissioners who will fight against Salem and DC bureaucrats who think they know best. We need our Commissioners that will suppress the unelected bureaucratic arm of government which aims to shift power away from we the people and to the government.
If you know candidates who stand for these three principles, be sure to support them — not just by voting but by donating to their campaign and volunteering. A government that is accountable to its citizens can only be obtained when citizens who value liberty, private property, privacy and personal responsibility are actively involved in the political process. Otherwise we will end up with politicians in office who vote in favor special interests and place the bill in our pockets.
Note: It has been pointed out Jim Bellet has more than one challenger for County Commissioner Position #3.