What a wild ride it has been for the past few months. The Home Rule Charter ballot measure has stirred emotions; puzzling since it is a nonpartisan issue. I encourage voters to question and verify the remarks from those who oppose change. The nay-sayers have pulled out all the stops with confusing and downright false accusations about the supporters, for example: Extreme environmentalists; not telling people who wrote the measure; diminishing the sheriff’s ability to do his job; and not letting anyone see the whole charter document, all untrue. See: www.douglascountyhomerule.com/charter.
Five items I want to share before proceeding: 1.) My husband and I own timberlands, previously owned a logging company, and have sold millions of board feet of timber to local mills. 2.) Nine counties in Oregon have charters. Those documents were used to create one for Douglas County. 3.) Historically, initiative petitions are not publically discussed until ready to release. 4.) This is not a personal vendetta against the sitting commissioners. For many years, other commissioners have relied on the same old, same old mantras about funding. 5.) It is important to note, two commissioners were in place when Douglas County Public Health was dismantled, and an applicant for the County Parks Commission was denied a position for unknown reasons. All three shut down the county library system.
Never, during my 50 years as a Douglas County resident, have I seen such a blatant amount of misinformation to oppose a local ballot measure, and more than $100,000 spent to tell people to vote against it. Too bad those funds and the energy behind them wasn’t used to help find a solution for the libraries to remain open. At a recent, privately sponsored Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, former Commissioner Doug Robertson and Sheriff John Hanlin presented their negative views. What I heard were half-truths and fear-mongering. Questions from the audience were encouraged. Two I submitted were not fully asked, nor answered. Well before the end of the meeting time, the audience was told all questions presented had been asked, which was untrue. At least one question from someone I know was not asked. Why? Fear?
In my daily life, I hear comments about how Douglas County is tied to timber for its lifeblood. We do have the most magnificent stands of Douglas fir trees in the world, many of which are the result of large and small timber companies and private land owners replanting clear cuts. Timber is king only as long as it is properly managed, harvested and replanted. Even so, the timber industry will never again employ as many as in years past to turn those trees into salable finished products. The 21st-century lumber mills are not what thousands of boys in Douglas County once counted on for well-paying jobs after finishing high school.
Here are facts for voters to keep in mind while marking “yes” on their ballots to improve the business management of Douglas County on Nov. 7:
1. Home Rule Charter allows involvement from five commissioners, from distinct districts, similar to city wards and school board positions;
2. Only one commissioner will be from inside the Roseburg city limits (many people living in rural communities have Roseburg mailing addresses: Tenmile, Glide, Lookingglass, Green, Dixonville, Melrose, Wilbur, and others);
3. Every district would have at least one incorporated city within its lines;
4. Citizens can interact with any commissioner, regardless of their district;
5. Commissioners would set policies for the county administrator to follow;
6. Rules and regulations remain unchanged for all elected county officials, including the sheriff;
7. Current commission support staff could continue to assist a county administrator and commissioners;
8. The people who support Home Rule Charter are a varied cross-section of our community: loggers, ranchers, business owners, health care providers, Republicans, independents, Democrats, teachers, retirees, young parents, mill workers and your neighbors;
9. Home Rule Charter does not interfere with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution;
10. Less likely a five-member commission, subject to strict Oregon open-meeting laws, will discuss prior to a public meeting an item from an upcoming agenda, and decide in advance how they will vote; and
11. Home Rule is how most large and small businesses operate with CEOs and boards of directors. CEOs for cities, counties, school boards, nonprofits and other entities may have other names for their CEOs, but their businesses are conducted very similarly to what Douglas County Home Rule provides.
Please join me in voting “yes” on Home Rule Charter, Measure 10-159. Simply, it is about more input from five commissioners and improved management of the multimillion-dollar business of Douglas County.