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Atherton vies for County Commission post

by: Photo By Holly M. Gill - Bill Atherton


   Another candidate has filed for the Republican nomination for a position on the three-member Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.
   Bill Atherton, 61, of Madras, will challenge incumbent Bill Bellamy, also a Republican, in the May primary for the open seat on the commission. Bellamy has served on the commission since 1997.
   "We have pretty significant differences about our approach to the priorities of the county that will come out in the campaign," said Atherton.
   For example, he said, "I don't believe building a new courthouse and hiring a new judge is our highest priority."
   "My priority would be to protect and maintain our road system, sensible community land-use planning, and as part of that, clean up the mess from Measure 37," Atherton continued. "I have solid proposals to do these things."
   Atherton, who owned a construction company and spent 30 years restoring historic buildings in Portland, Sacramento and Santa Clara, Calif., has lived in Madras since 2002.
   He has a bachelor's degree in biology from Stanford University, and has worked writing bills for the California Legislature. From 1994 to 1998, he served on the Lake Oswego City Council, and from 1998 to 2002, on the Portland Metropolitan Service District, before moving to Madras.
   In 2000, while still living in the Portland area, Atherton purchased 655 acres in the Gateway area. On a portion of that property, the Redband Ranch, he now works with students from the 509-J Transition Center to grow melons and run a truck farm.
   Two years ago, he ran as an Independent for the seat on the commission now held by Mike Ahern.
   He favors open debates on issues.
   "My approach in public life has been to not keep people guessing as to where I stand," he noted. "It's not healthy."
   "Elections are important," Atherton stressed. "I'm an unabashed lover of democracy, and believe that having a candidate who clarifies issues and provides solid proposals makes elections worthwhile and empowers people."