2 vie to fill open commissioner’s seat Nov. 8

Seven candidates entered the primary for Josephine County Commissioner Position 1, but the field has been narrowed to two: Brian DeLaGrange and John West. Below find a Q&A with both candidates.
What are your qualifications to be a county commissioner?
: I have an associate’s degree in forestry. I’ve been doing land development for over 20 years, so I know planning, building, public works. I was on the planning commission in Glendale for a few years.
DeLaGrange: I’m an already twice elected public official, representing the people of Grants Pass on the Grants Pass City Council. I’m also representing the people of Grants Pass on the Grants Pass School Board.
Are you in favor of a sales tax to fund the sheriff’s office?
: I am not in favor of the sales tax. I am in favor of funding the sheriff and funding patrols so we can keep our valley safe. We need to go back to the basics and no money leaves this valley until our sheriff is funded. I want to take all the money that we send to other counties and agencies outside of Josephine County and pull those funds back and move that money to the sheriff. We send $80,000 a year to SOREDI. We send $60,000 to Douglas County to litigate O&C funds. Then I want to go department by department and trim the fat and the wasteful spending. And then I want certain departments to contract sheriff’s deputies. That gives us eight or nine deputies.
DeLaGrange: I’m certainly supportive of the sheriff’s office having stable, consistent funding. I don’t think that the sales tax is the best option to do that. The revenue that’s going to be generated every year will fluctuate from year to year based on what the economy’s doing. So there could be big swings on the amount of money coming in. The sheriff’s office needs consistent, stable funding where they can plan for the future.
The option that sounds the most reasonable to me is to form a law enforcement taxing district. That would provide the sheriff with the consistent, stable funding that he needs. If we want sheriff services we’re going to have to pay for them. It’s that simple.
Do you support the Greater Idaho proposal?
: I support the question asked if Salem does not get their act together and we don’t get some real change up there. Everything that comes out of Salem is a train wreck and does not represent the values of our county.
DeLaGrange: I don’t support it. I don’t understand why we would want to carve off part of our state and become part of Idaho. I’m a proud Oregonian. I would like Southern Oregon to remain Oregon. I think if people want to become part of Idaho they’re more than welcome to live in Idaho.
Did you support the recent code enforcement ordinance that was shot down by the voters?
West: I did not support that because they left that open ended. We need to do a lot better and not come after people’s personal property rights for a chicken shed or a deck or a fence post being too high. It was originally written to go after the marijuana growers but it ended up going after everyone.
DeLaGrange: I did support the ordinance. There were a couple things in there that I had a concern with. In a way I’m glad it failed the first time around because that means that now we can take those concerns that people had and we can address them and tighten up the language of the ordinance and put it back out to the voters. I do think the language needs to be very specific about why they can come onto a property and what they can look at.
What can or should the county do about the homelessness problem?
: We have a homeless problem out in the woods. We need to go out and meet with the Forest Service and rangers and we need to meet with the head people from the BLM office and say you need to crack down on this. And we need to look at each homeless person with a separate set of eyes because some have mental problems, some have physical problems, some of them have lazy problems. We need to bring in those with a mental problem and we need to work with our state and our federal government and say listen we need you to help us. Because they’re the ones that have the money. It should not be left up to the citizens of Josephine County to pay the cost.
DeLaGrange: I think the county definitely has a role in helping to alleviate that problem. There’s not enough coordination between the city of Grants Pass, Cave Junction, the county, nonprofits, churches and other organizations. I think the county has the ability to bring those groups together so that everyone’s pulling in the same direction so that we can have a more effective response to the problem.
How would you grade the current county commissioners?
West: I would give them a C because their job is to work and serve the people and when you have commissioners that want to sit at a commissioner meeting and call citizens a name and tell them that they need to sit down and shut up, after they have their three minutes of time, I think that’s very disrespectful. This is not a job where everybody’s going to like you and if you can’t take some criticism you should not be in there.
DeLaGrange: I would give them probably a D. I don’t think they’re very effective. I think that their ability to affect change in the county is far greater than they realize. It seems like a lot of the time they’re happy to sit on the dais and complain about the state or the feds or complain about something instead of taking action to address whatever the topic may be.