>   To the political junky, the first hints or spring aren't daylight past 6 p.m., or frost avoiding your windshield on a clear morning, nor is it the it's-gotta-happen-sometime conclusion of the Super Bowl pregame.
   No, to the politicos, early spring is synonymous with kickoff of the primary season, and the late-winter days when candidates start filing is like ice breaking on the Yukon.
   Maybe poetic language (ice breaking on the Yukon is the best I can do) doesn't belong with local politics. But for those interesting in local politics and government -- and more of us should be -- the primary season is shaping up to at least be intriguing.
   Two-thirds of the county commission is up for election. Janet Brown won't be re-running after two terms, so her position is likely to draw a strong field. Mike Ahern will be seeking re-election for a second term and will most certainly see competition, though most new candidates try to avoid facing incumbents.
   The interesting aspect of all this is just who the new candidates will be. There are several intriguing names being bantered about as potential commission candidates. As they haven't filed yet, I won't impede their decision by making them public.
   Will anyone from the anti-Cogentrix effort throw their name into the ring. Many have done a stellar job bashing local officials; maybe one thinks they can provide more intelligent, progressive leadership. The recent lot-of-record land use decision by the commission angered a bunch of farmers ... but to the point of one running? Will this be the year that a Crooked River Ranch candidate become viable, and by that I mean able to win more than 25 percent of the vote.
   At the city of Madras, Mayor Rick Allen's term will be up at the end of the year. Since his landslide write-in election in late 2000, Allen has been hoping someone would step forward as a potential replacement, so he could step aside after a two-year term. Not that there aren't capable people out there, but here's hoping Allen sticks around for at least another term. There is a lot on the city's plate -- annexation and UGB expansion, urban growth district development, and that pesky Bill Sizemore -- that could still be hanging fire by the end of the year. Allen's leadership has been invaluable to a still new council. Hopefully he'll commit to another two years.
   But city politics doesn't heat up until August. I guess if the county filings are the first hint of spring, the city filings are the initial chills of November's autumn.
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