New county court getting feet wet

Share

Judge Seth Crawford and Commissioner Jerry Brummer will focus on appointing third commissioner during first month


Crook County Judge Seth Crawford and Crook County Commissioner Jerry Brummer were both sworn in Friday, Dec. 30 during a well-attended morning ceremony.

Now the work can begin and both members of the new county court will focus on short-term and broad-based goals as 2017 begins.

The most immediate need that Crawford and Brummer will need to tackle together is finding a third commissioner to join their team. Since Crawford's election to judge left a two-year-long vacancy at his prior commissioner position, he and Brummer will be tasked with appointing someone to serve the final two years of that term.

That process begins this week with announcement of the vacancy at Wednesday's county court meeting and public notice of the opening in the newspaper on Friday. That public notice must be published for 30 days, during which time Crawford and Brummer will accept applications from interested individuals.

Since the November election, several names have already emerged as potential appointees, several of which ran for the position Brummer now occupies.

"At the end of that month, we will look at all the people who have applied and nominate people to be appointed," Crawford said. Interviews will follow, and then a decision will be made.

Brummer did not offer many specific traits he seeks in a commissioner, except to say that he is looking for someone who will make up for any weaknesses he sees in the current two-person court.

"We have to get somebody in here that has the attributes we will need to make the court as strong as we can," he said. "I also think it is important to have someone we can all work with, because we need to work together as a court. That is very important."

Crawford says he will approach the decision with an open mind, but he wants to make sure that they choose somebody "who doesn't have an ax to grind and truly wants to see Crook County succeed."

As Crawford settles into the judge position, he plans to begin work on some of the changes he called for during his candidacy, namely long-term budgeting. He wants to develop a system in which the county bases its financial decisions on how it will affect services up to a decade down the road.

He has met with Andy Parks, who does consulting work for the City of Prineville, and will seek his expertise as he tries to model the county budget after the city's document.

"What I would like to see to start off with is adding things in that will be high payout, low impact, and then eventually get to a point where we are at the level of the city where we are looking out five to 10 years."

Crawford also plans to work toward development of a maintenance plan for upkeep of county buildings.

For Brummer, who is new to county government and still organizing his office, his first few months will involve a lot of education, both about the county departments and the commissioner job itself. Later this month, he will attend County College, a two-to-three-day-a-week course that is hosted by the Association of Oregon Counties over a period of four months.

"My objective for the short term is to go to all of the (county) departments and visit with the people and find out what their jobs are and just get it in my mind how all of it works together," Brummer added.