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Meet the 2016 primary candidates

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on April 26, 2016 6:55PM

Public Forest Commission candidate Sam Palmer, right, speaks at a candidate forum Saturday. The Eagle provided a separate opportunity for each candidate to answer several questions about their campaign platform, and here are their responses.

The Eagle/Sean Hart

Public Forest Commission candidate Sam Palmer, right, speaks at a candidate forum Saturday. The Eagle provided a separate opportunity for each candidate to answer several questions about their campaign platform, and here are their responses.

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Jim Boethin

Jim Boethin

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Dave Hannibal

Dave Hannibal

David Thunell

David Thunell

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Chris Labhart

Chris Labhart

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Jim Hamsher

Jim Hamsher

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Julie Ellison

Julie Ellison

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Mary Weaver

Mary Weaver

Tandi Merkord

Tandi Merkord

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Doug Carpenter

Doug Carpenter

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Larry Blasing

Larry Blasing

On April 1, the Blue Mountain Eagle sent each candidate in the May primary a certified letter with identical instructions and questions to answer for free publication in this edition.

The candidates were informed in the letter of the deadline, and each responded in time. The candidates were also informed they could include a photo, if they desired, but not all candidates submitted photos.

In alphabetical order for each position, the following are the unedited, verbatim responses received to these questions:

1. Please describe the office for which you are running and its importance. (50 words or less)

2. Why are you running for this office? (50 words or less)

3. What is your background, and what qualifications and experience would you bring to this office? (200 words or less)

4. What issues would you like to address, and how would you do so? (200 words or less)

County Commissioner No. 2

Jim Hamsher

1. The commissioner position is an opportunity to pull everyone together for the greater good. Mayoral experience proved maintaining good relationships and conflict resolution is achievable. Overall management of Grant County and delivery of services to citizens is work I am prepared to do.

2. Our residents cannot afford the status quo. Our way of life is in jeopardy. Wise and frugal government is a must. We need to keep regulations, taxation, and litigation to a minimum. I will work to improve the economy for all the towns in our County.

3. Currently Mayor of Prairie City

Former Prairie City Councilman

Former Prairie City Mayor

Prairie City Budget Committee, 5 years

GREAT Board member

Former Chairperson League of Oregon Cities: Small Cities Council.

Former President of the Grant County

NPRA Rodeo Committee

Current Grant County Rodeo

Committee Chairperson

For the last eight months, weekly deliveries of hay to animals dispossessed of their feed by the fire. Over 1000 tons of hay has been donated through this project.

4. Public lands need to be managed for multiple uses including grazing, logging and recreation. Access, for senior citizens, disabled people, all users, needs to be maintained. I feel forest policy needs to be updated using information gleaned over the last 25 years. This policy is being dictated by those who are out of touch with what is happening in our county. Better forest management requires a much stronger local voice. I think we all can agree that nobody wants the kind of devastating forest fires we have seen in the past. I love our county and I want to see it prosper.

Chris Labhart

1. My name is Chris Labhart and I am running for re-election to the position of Grant County Commissioner, position #2. Along with the County Judge, we are responsible for all executive and legislative matters within Grant County.

2. I believe I bring experience, knowledge and leadership to the County Court. This Court is able to discuss new ideas and differing opinions, and this ensures that decisions made by a body that works together, benefits all people of Grant County. Making tough decisions is not easy.

3. I have lived in Grant County most of my life and know the customs and culture that are unique to our way of life. I have worked in both the public and private sectors of our economy. I have served on the City Council of both Canyon City and John Day as a councilor and mayor. I was elected to the ESD and Blue Mountain Hospital District boards. I presently serve on the Local Community Advisory Council and the 12 County Regional Community Advisory Council, of which I chaired twice. I presently serve on the Association of Oregon Counties Steering Committees for Veterans, Public Lands and Natural Resources and Legislative issues. I was appointed to the Health Evidence Revision Commission by the Governor. I am the only representative from Eastern Oregon. I worked to bring Air Life of Oregon and New Hope for Eastern Oregon to Grant County and worked to build the Grant County Regional Airport Industrial Park. I am a County College graduate, class of 2013. I volunteer as an Oregon Hunter Safety instructor, Red Cross Disaster Assistance Team member and Department of Veterans Affairs driver to Burns and Boise.

4. The issues that I believe affect our county are many. Job retention and creation, Veterans, Health Care and senior programs are tops on my list. We must ensure Grant County retains the jobs we already have. Infrastructure improvements; from schools, streets and bridges, recreation opportunities, stewardship contracts and health care facilities are but a few of the things that will help keep the jobs we already have. We must work with our federal, state and local agencies to provide a positive and safe working environment for their employees. Ensuring our veterans have the information and access to the benefits they have earned and deserve should be everyone’s goal. A county funded Veterans Service Officer is an important step to ensure our veterans are served. Quality and affordable health care is critical to our county. When someone wants to move to an area, they always look into access to health care. A county supported hospital district, health department and a school based health clinic have helped. Over 25% of Grant Counties population is citizens age 65 and over. We must provide a wide variety of services to our seniors.


Doug Carpenter

1. The duties of the Grant County Treasurer’s office are to receive and safely keep, budget, and record the revenues and other public monies of the County, to distribute the monies collected to the proper recipients, and to pay the County’s bills as directed by the Grant County Commissioners.

2. My motivation for seeking the office of Grant County Treasurer is to serve the people of Grant County to the highest standards of my ability. I believe my leadership skills, knowledge of fiscal management, my dedication to the job and responsibilities, qualify me to serve as Treasurer of Grant County.

3. I have more than 10 years experience in accounting and finance. Eight years with Intuit Inc., assisting large and small companies with budgets, financial reports, bank reconciliations, and more. I have also worked for H&R Block, and I’m currently with Malheur Lumber Company, doing Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable.

I am knowledgeable and experienced with computers, DOS, Microsoft Office Suite, WordPerfect Office Suite, QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics GP, and several different accounting programs.

I have good communication, and organizational skills, use good judgment, am able to think on my feet and adapt to changing situations. I am self-motivated and work well as a team member.

My family moved to Grant County in 1973. I went to school and worked in the mills here. I left for college, employment, and to assist with the care for my invalid mother-in-law. My wife Darla and I moved back here, after her mother passed away in 2013. Most of my family is here, including my two kids and grandkids.

I love Grant County and am proud to call it home.

4. I would like to continue the exceptional job Kathy Smith has done during her tenure as treasurer.

Transparency, integrity, stewardship, and financial stability, are the attributes I’d like to bring to the job when I’m elected County Treasurer.

Julie Ellison

1. The county treasurer is responsible for receiving, dispersing, and investing all monies belonging to the county according to Oregon statutes. The three most important investment priorities of the treasurer should be to:

(A.) Protect the principal.

(B.) Keep monies available for dispersing (i.e. liquidity).

(C.) Manage the interest rate.

2. As a trust-worthy citizen of Grant County, I’m running for this position for two reasons. First, I offer unique capabilities and insight due to my hands-on-experience with our current treasurer. Second, I’m dedicated to committing the remainder of my career (16 years) to maintaining and enhancing a solid financial foundation.

3. I currently work as the Deputy Clerk in the Grant County Clerk’s Office. Raised in Grant County, I began my career working as a bookkeeper for Jackson Oil (26 years) and Ed Staub & Sons (4 years). During this time I gained years of direct experience dealing with all aspects of accounting and finance.

Working as the Deputy Clerk, alongside our current treasurer, Kathy Smith, to pay the county’s bills, I receive, review, and provide budgeting oversight all while ensuring expenses are processed as budget law requires. I also maintain capital outlay purchases in our county’s AS-400 computer system for annual audit review. Working with Kathy has provided me with unique insight and hands-on experience with the county’s accounts payable process.

I also serve as Treasurer to Lutheran’s Women’s Missionary League and as a Director on the Mid-County Cemetery Board. I’m also dedicated to our county’s annual community fundraiser for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).

I believe that working as your treasurer would be the perfect culmination to my career. Please allow me to offer my proven work experience, talent, and drive to help our county adequately plan for and take on the challenges of future growth within the county.

4. As your Treasurer, I’ll immediately place a strong focus on deciphering how the recent decrease in federal and state funds directly impacts our county’s financial state. I’ll then determine what steps can and should be taken to counteract this impending loss.

While doing so, I’ll work alongside our county commissioners and judge to ensure that priorities are being properly set to protect the services most desired while maintaining an optimal financial balance. The importance of strong and honest communication between the various departments cannot be understated.

I also believe that it has never been more important to embrace improvements in technology. Whether you love or despise computers, one cannot deny that as a county we’re slightly behind in the Digital Age. Working with other departments I’ll identify various changes that I believe our county can benefit from. Doing so should improve the financial process by eliminating unnecessary manual tasks and will also free up manpower allowing us to better serve the citizens of Grant County.

Please allow me, Julie Ellison, to leverage my 30+ years of accounting experience and loyal dedication to the community, to continue in Kathy’s footsteps to maintain and improve the financial well-being of our great county.

Tandi Merkord

1. The position I am running for is Grant County Treasurer. It is a very important role to the county, all the county’s finances pass through this office and need to be accurately accounted for. The budget must balance and each payable and receivable documented for the county to see.

2. I am running for Treasurer to serve the people of Grant County. I am experienced not only in accounting, but also working with government agencies. It is my goal to upgrade the systems that are in place and to improve the transparency of the county’s finances to the public.

3. My background is over 20 years in accounting. I attended college taking accounting, budgeting and math courses. I am experienced in accounts payable, receivable, payroll, budgeting, cost accounting and bank reconcilliation. I work for the Grant County Road Department, which has one of the largest budgets in the county. Some of my current responsibilities are tracking our costs, preparing accounts payables, recording receivables and balancing budget expenditures. I previously worked for two other government agencies, the City of John Day as senior accounts clerk and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument as maintenance clerk/cost accounting. I enjoy the challenge of the checks and balances of a budget. I also serve on the Dayville School Board. My other job is doing all the accounting for our cattle ranch and my husband’s excavation business. I understand balancing budgets and making your money work for you. My goal is to show the County’s budget honestly, holding each department, along with the County Judge and Commissioners responsible in their decisions on how the County’s funds are spent.

4. The issues I would like to address are the Court’s decisions on the County’s expenditures. We, the County officials, are elected by the people. It is our responsibility to be accountable to each citizen. Our priorities should reflect the people of Grant County. We live in a county where people work hard and don’t want their money wasted. If I can show the public exactly, down to the penny, where the money is being spent, then I am doing my job. I want to be honest, my integrity is on the line. Another issue or goal I have is to update the County’s programs, to make documents available online. To update the accounting systems to pay bills online, automatic payroll online, look up the budget, pay taxes online...these are some of my goals. We live in a very large county where a trip to town is not always possible, so if you could sit in the comfort of your own home while checking on something at the County....wow technology! Most important though is to work together to make this County successful. We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, lets take care of it!

Mary Weaver

1. On a daily basis the treasurer receives monies and pays the County bills. On a monthly basis the duties include bank reconciliation for all accounts, assisting with the payroll process, and working with all department heads to get the correct information to the County Court in the budget statement.

2. I am a bookkeeper and it would be an honor to use those skills to serve the citizens of Grant County. I would provide transparency by answering all questions that the public has on where the tax dollars go so they can feel confident in their government.

3. I have more than 30 years of experience as a bookkeeper and office manager and I am currently the County Fair Manager. I have worked with many different accounting systems and am an owner of a local business managing all of the receipting of monies and paying of bills. As YOUR Fair Manager I have worked with the County Budget for the last 5.5 years so I am familiar with the existing systems in place. I have created and maintained detailed spreadsheets throughout my career to provide and track a clear explanation of expenses and I want to do the same as YOUR Grant County Treasurer. You deserve to know the details of how your tax dollars are used by the County and I will make that information accessible to you in a clear and timely way. This is an important job and I believe my skills and experience combined with a commitment to transparency and accountability make me the most qualified candidate for the job.

4. The issues that I would like to address is how do we all work together in the Court House to make sure that we are a cohesive unit for the tax payers of Grant County. We have been elected to these position by the people with faith that we will do good for them. I am a firm believer in giving 110% at all times by going above and beyond when it comes to making a difference. As I am learning the job I will always be looking for ways to make processes easier and all actions as efficient as possible. I will take advantage of any trainings that are available to be wise in the investments for the County tax dollars. I am the type of person that likes to learn new things that will help to make the job more proficient. I would work with all County departments to help create systems to make the County work efficiently with the Treasurers Office. There is always another project that you can be working on or reaching a hand out to help someone else that is behind.

Public Forest Commission No. 5

Jim Boethin

1. I am running for Grant Co. Public Forest Comm. Position #5.

2. I believe the Forest Comm. needs to play a vital role in bringing balance between county residents, their values and our public lands management by the USFS, BLM, and the environmentalists.

3. I am a life- long resident of Grant County. I am passionate about our environment in our county, which in my opinion has spiraled out of control at the hands of environmentalist mandates! The culmination of which has been the Canyon Creek Complex. That being said, I believe my greatest qualifying point may be my personal experience in this county. I have been a contractor, professional trapper, saw mill employee and a carpenter for ODFW placing fish screens. I also plan on retiring at the end of this year and my bucket list is pretty short so I can donate some real time to our forest health.

4. The issues at hand are both simple and complex. Jobs first and forest health are issues that need to be keenly addressed. Then add to this mix, recreational opportunities. With environmentalists, their lawyers, judges, and politicians controlling our public lands the last 25 years all of us should be able to see where this has brought us. Sound management is sorely lacking and far from where it needs to be. The huge business of fire needs to take a back seat to said sound management. Thanks!

Howard Gieger

1. I believe that the Public Forest Commission should be working for the people that elected them to the position. The PFC has been charged with the duty of keeping the public and the court advised of the actions of public land managers on access and management of our public lands.

2. I will be able to help move to Commission forward. It appears that some of the people running for a position, seek to destroy the Commission. I will to listen to the people of Grant County and address the issues that they feel important regarding our forest.

3. I have lived in Grant County for 50 years, transferring here by the company I worked for, spending 33 years working as a claims investigator, working fraud and arson cases. I retired in 2000, but continued to work with a large Eastern Oregon law firm. During my years in Grant County, I have spent a great deal of time involved in numouris issues that involved our forest. Working with the Forest Service, in the mid-seventies and early eighties, writing the recreation policy for snowmobiles on the forest. I have continued to try and work with the Forest Service on many other issues. I have worked hard on forest access. As part of my family was involved in the logging industry, I learned early on, the importance of proper forest management and access to our forest.

4. If elected, I will work hard to move the Forest Commission forward, stressing to the commission, the importance of better communication with the people, the court and the Forest Service. I will continue to work with the new or old County Court. I will continue try and work with the Forest Service, on forest management and forest access. I will listen to the people of the county. I plan, if elected, to give the people of Grant County a VOICE on forest issues that we are faced with today and in the future. I will continue to push the investigation of the Canyon Creek Complex fire forward.

King Williams

1. I am running for the Grant County Public Forest Commission acting with fellow commissioners on behalf of the citizens of Grant County for the creation of policies based on the principle of multiple use for management of timber, grazing, mining, recreation and maintenance of aesthetic beauty of the landscape.

2. To provide input, with the other Public Forest Commissioners, on natural resource management on our public lands within Grant County in order to protect the economic well-being of the citizens of Grant County and improve the health of our forests on all public lands within Grant County.

3. I am a lifelong, 4th generation resident of Grant County with over 40 years of experience in natural resource management.

I have owned and for 19 years was the managing partner in our family ranch in Grant County.

7 years, with my partner, as General Manager in a sawmill which purchased timber from public lands within Grant County.

28 years as a natural resource consultant and resource economist for land owners and land management entities within Grant County, Eastern Oregon, Washington and Western Idaho providing advice and management service in areas including:

Public Land Use Restriction analysis Wilderness designations analysis

Timber Management and Policies Livestock Management

Water Resources and Management Wildlife Management and Policies

County Comprehensive Planning Zoning Issues

I have served on the Grant County Public Forest Commission for the past 8 years.

I have worked for over 45 years to improve the economy of Grant County and the ecological health of the forests within Grant County through personal projects on my own lands; input, comments and testimony on many projects, plans and proposals affecting natural resources within Grant County; and through service on numerous boards and committees within Grant County.

4. As a member of the Grant County Public Forest Commission I would work on all issues affecting the management and utilization of the forests within Grant County including:

(A.) Development, revision, implementation of the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision currently in process of being released;

(B.) Analysis, comments to and input on all land and resource projects (timber sales, habitat restoration projects, travel management proposals, road closures, road decommissioning, grazing issues, and mining restrictions) affecting the Malheur National Forest, BLM managed lands within Grant County, lands managed by the various State of Oregon entities which manage lands within Grant County and other federally managed lands; and

(C.) Analysis, comments on and input on legislation proposed by the US Congress the Oregon State Legislature which may have impacts to the ecological health of the forests within Grant County and/or to the economic well-being of the citizens of Grant County.

In addition to the direct input provided by the Grant County Public Forest Commission I would encourage my fellow commissioners to provide similar advice, input and recommendations to the members of the Grant County Court on the relevant projects, plans and legislative actions considered by the Grant County Public Forest Commission.

Public Forest Commission No. 7

Larry Blasing

1. My name is Larry Blasing and I am running for Grant County Public Forest Commission Position #7. I am the incumbent and have been on the Commission for eight years. Commission members are elected by the citizens of Grant County to serve as their representatives to insure that our public lands are managed for both the economic and social benefits that we enjoy.

2. In the past, the U.S. Forest Service (our largest public land ownership) has failed in it’s responsibilities to provide commercial timber for our industries, the backbone of Grant Counties economy. They have also systematically ignored requests by Grant County citizens to maintain access for recreational opportunities that we enjoy.

3. I attended school in Unity, Bates and Prairie City, graduating from High School in 1956. I graduated from Oregon State University in Forest Management in 1964. My professional career has been in the forest products industry with experience throughout the Northwest, British Columbia and Alaska. Basic experience has ranged from “dirt” forestry to logging and sawmill manager. A large portion of my career was representing the forest products industry in Montana, Idaho, northeast Washington and Alaska. This required involvement in all manner of forest policy, contract interpretation, forest land use, research, forest pest management, appeals, litigation and virtually any issue that involved public forest land management. I organized local, state and national forest products industry efforts that dealt with specific issues of concern. I frequently testified on legislation at state and Congressional levels and served as industry spokesman with print and TV media. More recently I believe I made the first phone calls to other members of the commission that resulted in the organization of an Eastern Oregon response to the disastrous Draft US Forest Service Management Plan for the Eastern Oregon Forests. Members of the Commission presented legal and technical deficiencies in the Plan that caused the Forest Service to reconsider their position. Our comments were used widely by the public in their response to the Plan.

4. The Grant County Public Forest Commission while being elected, is none the less a volunteer group. Our ability to be effective is restricted due to lack of budget and conflicts with other personal responsibilities of the members.

We could have a better presence at hearings, appeals and in extreme cases litigation where it is important to Grant County. The Commission needs to continue to be a voice for Grant County on Forest Management issues and to work with the County Court to insure that our voice is heard. We need to continue to work with the agencies and various publics including Blue Mountain Forest Partners to keep the management of our public lands moving forward. The economic and social interests of Grant County are still our primary responsibilities.

Jim Sproul

1. I am running for position # 7 of the Grant County Forest Commission as an4th generation Grant County resident. After the devastating fires of the past several years it has become evident that a more aggressive management of our natural resources must be taken. This was the mandate during formulation of the Forest Commission.

2. I have chosen to run because I believe that the current position holder is not representative of the best interests of the citizens of Grant County. Grant County is at a crossroads in forest health and management and I intend to meet these issues head on.

3. I have a lifetime experience in natural resources as a fourth generation rancher and wish to pass on a better Grant County to my children and Grandchildren.

4. I believe that Grant County residents deserve an immediate investigation into the Mason Springs and Berry Creek fires as to early suppression efforts and effects of such actions therein. We need to address the fine fuel component of these restoration projects which is a major cause of these large fires and is not being currently managed properly. With increased restoration come increased grasses and fine fuels which without increases in overall grazing capacity causing catastrophes wild fires to occur.

Public Forest Commission Alternate No. 1

Dave Hannibal

1. I am running for the Public Forest Commission position 1A. I think the commission can be important counsel to the County Court in reviewing forestry plans and weighing in on matters about roads and the economic impacts of proposed Forest Service projects and other forestry related plans being considered.

2. I believe in engaging the most current science and blending that with the needs of the County, engaging multiple points of view to come up with the best possible recommendations. I think some of the current commissioners are coming at it from an extremist point of view witch is non-productive.

3. I started in forestry in 1980, prescribed fire and wildfire in1986, I have worked to advance in my field and stay current with science; I have traveled and worked forest from California to Northern Montana and across the Great Basin having been based on the Malheur since 1994. I served 7 years on the Dayville Schoolboard, ten years as a board member for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Co-founder of the Grant County Off-Road Association and currently Director-at-Large for the Oregon State Snowmobile Association I believe in lifelong learning and over the last 10 years have accelerated that with my participation in forestry collaboratives and attending forestry seminars, there is much new information to be had today and I consider today’s forestry to be the most exciting and well-informed of my career. I bring 17 years of boardroom experience, a good working understanding of meeting process, human dynamics and a cooperative inclusive and positive attitude. A healthy forest and community takes much more than cutting down trees and sending them to the mill, I can bring understanding of the service contract side which is underrepresented and I am very concerned with motorized recreation on the forest and advocate for access.

4. First address the Charter passed by Grant County voters in a time when the timber industry was brought to a standstill and times were bad, two approaches were launched at that time; the Public Forest Commission and Collaboration, the latter is currently responsible for bring 4 million per year into the Malheur and an average timber harvest around 70 M board feet per year. I see no reason the PFC is working against this effort, both can be useful in the effort to better the County. The PFC charter mandated Grant County to take full control of all the public lands within its boundaries, create new ranger districts and take 100% of the Forest Service firefighting budget for ten years. That obviously did not and will not happen so it is time to re-invent what the commission does. This would be either an effort of the commission and County Court or a legal and constitutional solution created. The County Court does and should weigh-in to the Forest Service on planned projects, as the members of the Court (or the Sheriff) are not forestry professionals, a need exists to draw on the experience of this commission to make recommendations.

Mike Smith

My background has been in ranching and logging. I have served on the Grant County Public Forest Commission for many years and will continue to advocate common-sense solutions to problems within the forests in Grant County. It is imperative to keep the commission as a grass roots entity for the people and not for special interest groups.

Public Forest Commission Alternate No. 2

Sam Palmer

From my years of experience in the woods I strongly believe we are at a turning point in our forests. If we do not become responsible in the stewardship necessary to make the forest fire resistant, we will continue to see fires create destruction that will take generations to renew. I would like to be a part of the Grant County Forest Commission that fulfills the mission the citizens of Grant County wanted when the commission was formed. I will listen to the people and not special interest groups in working with the members to achieve a healthy forest that creates employment and resources.

Russ Young

1. I am running for Grant County Public Forest Commission. I feel that a public forest commission that was chartered by the citizens of Grant County to give policy recommendations and attempt to influence project design on the public lands in Grant County is of the utmost importance.

2. I am a life-long resident of Grant County, have lived and built a business here in the logging, timber and ranching industry. The economic and social health of Grant County is very important to me. The success of natural resource management on the public lands is the key to that success.

3. My father, Jack Young, bought what became Iron Triangle Logging from Edward Hines Lumber Company in 1983. In 1997 I bought the company from my dad and have grown the company to currently employ over 100 employees including an oil company, logging side, road side, and ranch.

Through our logging operations over the past 25 years we have managed tens of thousands of acres of both public and private timberland and know what it takes to successfully manage forests for economic benefit and forest health.

Our ranch has grazing permits and leases with both the BLM and the USFS and I understand the importance of this relationship for local ranchers, the community and industry as a whole.

My family and I recreate on public lands in Grant County and believe in continued access to these lands for generations to come.

I believe that the array of Iron Triangle’s businesses including our diverse employment base gives me a unique perspective on what is important when it comes to how our public lands should be managed. I have always been willing to listen to others and will work together with the other commissioners to help Grant County be successful into the future.

4. The public lands in Grant County cover over 65% of the land base. Every management action that occurs on public land is important. I would like to work with the other public forest commissioners to make sure that the policy decisions that are being recommended to the government are good for the citizens of Grant County and for the forest. This can come in the form of specific policy recommendations to the BLM, US Forest Service or Congress but can also be affected by a more project by project involvement. I would like to work with all interested parties to help move forest management in a direction that is more advantageous to everyone.

We need to be treating more acres and treating these acres to a level that allows for more economic benefit to the local community as well as putting the condition of the forest back on a trajectory to withstand disease, drought and forest fire. We also need to keep a level of access across our forests that allow for the types of recreation that our citizens love. These policies will be based on proven science and by working with interested citizens for the best outcomes.

Public Forest Commission No. 1

Dave Traylor

I am unapposed in the #1 position with the Grant County Public Forest Commission and will be embarrassed if not re-elected. With that said the commission is at crossroads where its effectiveness as a voice of Grant County will be compromised if people that have a special interest to promote are elected. Carefully consider candidates that represent a company or special interest group and ask this question. Will that individual best represent Grant County or themselves? Thank you for your confidence and I will continue to serve as best I can.

Public Forest Commission No. 3

Tad Houpt

I have a lifetime in Forest Resource management from the ground up. I will continue to serve the people of Grant County as a voice that does not have a personal motive or governed by special interest. We must have aggressive stewardship that will be effective to promote forest health and be fire resistant. Everyone can benefit from that or we stand by and watch our forests destroyed by fire and everyone and everything loses.


David Thunell

1. The Assessor is responsible for locating, identifying, inventorying, and valuing all properties in the county. They must also have the ability to explain and defend each real market and assessed value. This position is important to ensure fairness and equity for all taxpayers in Grant County.

2. I believe that with the experience I’ve gained as Chief Appraiser over the past 11 years in the Assessor’s office I can offer Grant County a qualified choice. I am committed to accuracy and love this county in which I’ve lived my entire life.

3. I was born and raised in John Day and graduated from Grant Union High School. For several years I worked with my father doing commercial and residential construction throughout the county. The past 11 years I have worked under Lane Burton and Karen Officer in the Assessor’s office as Chief Appraiser. During this time some of my responsibilities included: physically inspecting all properties in the county, answering taxpayer questions, doing appraisal set-ups, establishing real market values for properties in the county, etc. I have worked very hard to build a level of trust between myself and the taxpayers of Grant County and will continue to do so.

4. As the Assessor’s office is going through the transition of losing two Assessors within one year with a combined experience of over 75 years the challenge is a large one. I am fortunate to be training at this time under the current Assessor to be ready for the position and its demands. The issues in the forefront will be a rotation of positions due to the retirement of two consecutive Assessors. We will all be working hard to make the transition as smooth as possible while learning new responsibilities. I look forward to becoming the next Assessor of Grant County and the challenges it will present.


Mike Springer

1. The County Surveyor provides several important services to the public, including: reviewing and recording maps and plats, making maps and other documents available to the public, maintaining Section and 1/4 Section Corners and conducting court ordered surveys. I also work closely with other county departments to provide information when necessary.

2. Most Surveys have a direct or indirect impact on private landowners. It is essential that the public has access to a complete and orderly set of these records. I would like to continue in my position as County Surveyor in order to provide the best possible service to the public.

3. In 1998 I received my bachelor of science in Land Surveying from Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls. That same year my wife and I moved to John Day where I began work for Bagett, Griffith and Blackman Surveying. At that time Bob Bagett was the County Surveyor as well as a partner in his surveying firm. After four years of being an intern and continuing my education under the guidance of Mr. Bagett, I received my Professional Land Surveyor’s license. From about 2002 to 2008 I was the deputy County Surveyor. In 2008 I won the primary election for the position of Grant County Surveyor and began my term in 2009 when Bob retired. That same year Jason Hatfield and I started Benchmark Land Surveying. I was re-elected as County Surveyor in 2012 and in 2013 was selected by my peers to be the Oregon County Surveyor of the Year.

I think my experience as a private surveyor and also serving two terms as County Surveyor makes me uniquely qualified for this position. I always strive to provide the public and our clients with the highest quality service I possibly can.

4. Along with my other responsibilities, there are two primary areas where I’d like to focus my attention in my next term. First I would like to add more information to the County Surveyor’s web site. Currently users can view or copy maps, land partition plats and corner restoration records from the site. I would like to complete the addition of all our subdivision plats and possibly a few other types of documents. Secondly I will continue the restoration and maintenance of section corners and 1/4 corners throughout the county with a particular I emphasis on corners that were destroyed or damaged in the Canyon Creek fire. In many cases this involves evaluating bearing trees and setting additional accessories.


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