> Jefferson County Commissioner Mike Ahern has announced intentions to run for the Oregon House of Representatives.
Ahern, 52, said he will file to run in the Democratic Primary for House District 59.
"I have the ability to do the job," said Ahern. "I have a track record of accomplishments both in government and private business. I enjoy public service and believe this is the best opportunity to serve the public."
District 59 encompasses all or parts of nine counties: Jefferson, Wasco, Wheeler, Gilliam, Sherman and Grant, with slivers of Clackamas, Deschutes and Marion. Jefferson and Wasco counties make up a large majority to the district's population.
The current district representative is John Huffman of The Dalles, a Republican who in September was appointed by county commissioners of the district to replace John Dallum, who resigned early in the summer. Huffman has yet to serve during a legislative session.
Ahern said he will campaign on improving and strengthening education, from the kindergarten through collegiate levels. He said his campaign will also focus on economic development.
"We need to increase regional economic development efforts and work hard to protect the industries we have, while looking to expand into new areas to strengthen our economic base and provide jobs and prosperity for our people."
Ahern has been a resident of Madras nearly all of his life. He is a 1974 graduate of Madras High School and a graduate of the University of Oregon. He operated Ahern's Grocery and Deli for 21 years before selling the business. Along with working as a commissioner, he is a realtor and owns residential and commercial properties in Madras.
The longtime Madras resident is beginning his third year of his second term as a county commissioner. He served as commissioner from 1998 through 2002, lost his bid for re-election, then regained the seat in 2006. He was a Madras city councilman in the 1980s.
He does not plan on resigning his commissioner's position while seeking the state representative post, and will leave it only if elected to the state position.
Ahern has long been active in the community of Madras. He's been a member of the Kiwanis for 27 years, and a past president; past president of the chamber of commerce; a member of the Elks and is a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus, which is a Catholic Church organization. Ahern also started and maintains the Madras Sparklers, the town's Fourth of July celebration.
"I plan on running a spirited and positive campaign," said Ahern. "Our last two state representatives resigned and were replaced by appointment. We deserve more dedicated, effective representation and this is what I will provide."
The last Jefferson County resident to serve as state representative was Bill Bellamy, in the 1980s.