The League of Women Voters recently hosted a public meeting about Douglas County’s local government options that drew 100-plus people. Two speakers from Lane County — a retired county manager and a practicing attorney who also teaches local government law at the University of Oregon School of Law — explained key provisions of the proposed Home Rule Charter and invited audience members to write questions, on cards, before the break.

During the break, I helped sort the cards, putting similar questions together. The question asked most often concerned Sheriff John Hanlin’s consent to use his photo — in uniform — on signs and literature opposing the charter. Clearly, his decision to use his office this way hit a nerve. Legally, public officials are prohibited from politicking while on the job. Since the photo shows our sheriff in his uniform during the day, in front of our courthouse, it raises the suspicion that this policy was violated. Regardless of whether Sheriff Hanlin violated the policy or not, I am more concerned about the headline he allowed his photo to be used with: “Stop Extreme Environmentalists.”

“Stop Extreme Environmentalists”? Really? Home Rule has nothing to do with environmental policies, extreme or otherwise. Our speakers explained that there are two forms of local government in Oregon: “General Law” and “Home Rule.” The city of Roseburg already uses Home Rule.

Under Home Rule, elected city councilors or county commissioners typically hire a professional manager — someone with a degree in public administration — to ensure that work is performed efficiently and legally, in a way that inspires public confidence.

Perhaps if Sheriff Hanlin had had the benefit of a professional manager, he would have been advised against this kind of ugly politicking, which engenders fear, borders on lying, insults his neighbors, and tarnishes his good reputation.

Sandra Huffstutter


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(6) comments


I think some of the problem stems from that fact that the sheriff posed for pics in an ad in his official uniform. That makes it seem like the entire department opposes this. It is not an official stance it is just his personal opinion and it would have been better if he wasn't wearing the uniform since tax payers did pay for that. What he does off duty and in his own clothing is his business but looks like he went too far here.

Not It

Fact Check: Elected Officials are 100% allowed to campaign on the job. See ORS 260.432.


When you reread that ORS more closely, you will see "elected official" and "public employee" are different.

Not It

I don't understand your point, the Sheriff is an elected official. Therefore, he falls under the elected official category.


The ORS you used in your post is for public employees. Not elected officials.

Not It

Page 10-An elected official may engage in political activity during work time. Elected officials are not considered public employees for the purposes of ORS 260.432.

Guess we're both right.

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