Three more file for commission
Three more candidates -- all veteran campaigners -- will round out the field for position 3 on the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, currently held by Bill Bellamy.
The addition of Republicans Mike Goss and Wayne Fording and Democrat Walt Ponsford by the March 11 filing deadline brings to six the total vying for the position -- five Republicans and one Democrat.
Incumbent Bellamy, a Republican in his 12th year on the commission, filed earlier, as well as Republicans Bill Atherton and Jim Hamm (all profiled in earlier issues of The Pioneer).
A Republican candidate will be chosen in the May 20 primary election, who will face the Democratic candidate in the November 4 general election.
Six years after his first run for public office, Mike Goss, 59, is ready to try again.
"Some changes need to be made in the way we are doing business in Jefferson County," said Goss, noting that in some cases, policies have deterred businesses from locating here.
Suggesting that tax relief might help the county broaden its economic base, he said, "We need to attract businesses that will provide decent paying jobs for our citizens. We can't expect them to come in here and pay more than they would pay someplace else."
For the past 13 years, Goss and his wife Becky have owned the local office of Farmers Insurance on Southwest Fourth Street.
He is active in the Rotary Club, which he serves as president, the Church of Christ, and the chamber of commerce. In the past, he has served on the urban renewal task force, volunteered as a reserve deputy sheriff, and helped with March of Dimes.
"This county has been good to my family," he explained. "We try to give back by helping in the county. Being commissioner is another way to give back."
Whomever is elected to the three-member commission must represent all the communities in the county -- from Camp Sherman and Crooked River Ranch on the south end, to Warm Springs and Ashwood to the north, Goss pointed out.
"I'm willing to listen, and I also realize that I don't have all of the good ideas; they could come from someone else," he said.
Goss grew up on a farm in Hood River that grew pears, apples and cherries. During high school and college, he worked in sawmills and the timber industry.
After earning a bachelor degree in business administration from Columbia Christian College in Portland, Goss worked in trucking and retail in Portland before moving back to Hood River in the early 1980s. There, he started a real estate and construction business.
Outside Madras, the Gosses own a 67-acre farm with pasture for their 10 horses, which they enjoy riding on trails around the area.
They have three adult children: Mick, 36, of Madras, who works in commercial construction and serves on the Madras City Council; Ange, 34, of Weiser, Idaho; and Tim, 32, who is in the carpet business in Madras.
Two years after his first bid for a position on the County Commission -- the position currently held by John Hatfield -- Wayne Fording has been encouraged to try for another spot on the board.
"I have had a lot of good support from last time," he said. "People have asked if I'm going to go again."
Although he has no quarrels with the incumbent, after 12 years, he said, "It's time for a different view and new leadership."
Fording, 46, believes he is the person to provide that leadership.
"I've got a solid business background," he said, noting he would use a common sense approach to issues.
In his second year serving on the Jefferson County Budget Committee, Fording has also been a member of the chamber of commerce since moving to Madras.
"Fiscally, I think the county needs to be very cautious on their revenue forecast," he said. "We don't want to come up short. As far as the budget goes, we need to be just as fiscally responsible."
To bring business to Madras, "I think we need to work with property owners and developers to come up with fair development fees, which benefit both parties at the table," he said. "What we're hearing is the negative of people packing up and leaving."
He would like the county to help fund an economic development coordinator. "Especially with all the losses of jobs, I think that would be a good thing to do," he said.
Fording and his wife Carolyn moved to Madras from the Seattle area in 1989, and bought Madras Paint and Glass, which they have owned and operated for the past 19 years.
He grew up in Federal Way, Wash., and graduated from Decatur High School. After moving to Madras, Fording attended a two-year business development course through Central Oregon Community College.
The Fordings have two children, Tyler, 17, and Ian, 12.
The only Democrat among the candidates for position 3, Walt Ponsford can sit back and allow the Republican candidates to duke it out in the primary.
Ponsford, 72, who served one term on the County Commission -- from 2003 through 2006 -- decided to run when no other Democrats filed for the job.
"Everyone should be challenged," he said, noting that he has numerous reasons for running. "Several things have been going different directions than I prefer."
"We need to have a safe place for battered women and their children," Ponsford said. "That, in the long haul, has a lot to do with what happens with the crime rate."
The county-owned home was shut down within the past year, he said, and he wants the county to find a new place for women and children to help keep the county's crime rate the lowest in the Central Oregon area.
Lack of funds for the fairgrounds and fairgrounds manager also concerns Ponsford. "The county fairgrounds are an important social part of the county," he said. "I think we can find solutions to see that the fairgrounds and the county fair don't become degraded."
Ponsford, who owns an 80-acre farm north of Madras with his wife Carolyn, said he would be an advocate for the farm community.
"My votes have proven that I support farm and ranch better than anyone on the commission," he said, referring to Measure 37, the property rights law which divided county residents during his earlier term.
When Measure 37 took effect in December of 2004, Ponsford said he took pains to follow the new state law. "I did nothing more than follow the laws, and only after I was out of office did the courts and the people agree with me."
Ponsford, like Fording, was defeated by current commissioner John Hatfield in the 2006 election.
A retired schoolteacher, Ponsford taught history, government and theater at Madras High School and junior high from 1961 to 1993, when he retired.
He grew up in the Monmouth/Independence area and received his bachelor's degree in history from Western Oregon University in 1959, and his master's degree from the University of Oregon in 1977.
With his wife, he has eight adult children -- two of his own -- and 21 grandchildren.
Ponsford, who has served on the Central Oregon Council on Aging and the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, is active in the Warm Springs Presbyterian Church.