It is official: Sheriff Rodd Clark will run for office once more. Clark filed the necessary forms this week, nearly nine months before the May primary election.
>Leaving himself a long time for campaigning, Sheriff Rodd Clark has filed for another term of office - he has already held the job longer than anyone in the county's history
Crook County Clerk Dee Berman said that legislation passed earlier this year opens up the filing deadlines, allowing candidates to get an early start. Normally, candidates wouldn't be able to file until September. There are rules about filing no sooner than a certain date and no later than a certain date. The legislation changed that, moving the earliest date someone can file from September 13 to April 2.
"The idea was to give candidates more time to raise funds," Berman explained. "Oregon's vote-by-mail laws make it more restrictive and harder for candidates. In the past they used to be able to file a week or so before the deadline."
The sheriff's office is one of four county positions up for election. The others are the county assessor, county clerk and county commissioner, position two. Clark is the first local candidate to file but it is expected that County Assessor Tom Green will run again, and Berman indicated that she will too. Commissioner Jerry Crafton has not said whether he will run again.
Clark explained his early filing by saying he wants to get it over with and let everyone know he'll run. "In fact," he said laughingly, "I'll run twice more. I have to work for a living and two more terms will take me to retirement age."
Having served 16 years as Crook County Sheriff, Clark is the longest standing sheriff in the county's history.
In answer to the question of what he is proud of accomplishing in his 16 years, Clark's list is long. "I think the town hall meetings that we hold each year, and creation of the Sheriff's Advisory Committee are important. They give the citizens an opportunity to talk about issues, whether they have anything to do with law enforcement or not."
The Sheriff noted that he is still in good health, and still having fun being sheriff. "It has been both challenging and rewarding," he said. "That makes it all worthwhile."
Anyone wishing to run against Clark will have to supply the clerk with proof of certification of eligibility by the State Board of Safety Standards. Berman said she has already received the official letter.
To qualify for the county assessor's office, candidates must be a registered appraiser, have two years experience in accounting or two years work in an appraising office. The candidate must also be certified by the Oregon Department of Revenue. Again, Berman noted she has already received that certification letter regarding Tom Green.
Qualifying for both the clerk's position or that of commissioner doesn't call for any certification. One must only satisfy certain residency requirements. Of the four offices up for election in the 2002 election, only the commissioner's position is a partisan office.
The filing deadline for the May 21 primary election is in mid-March, 70 days prior to the primary.
Next year's elections, as are all Oregon elections, will be vote-by-mail. Recently, and especially since the voting controversy in Florida, Oregon)s vote-by-mail laws have come under attack by other states. Berman said, in her opinion, those people don't know what they are talking about.
"People in the other states don't fully understand the full election process. Everything they are saying is wrong. It is just as easy in all elections to vote twice, actually it is easier in some. In a poll election, anyone can sign the register and cast a ballot and then go do it again somewhere else. Here, we check the signature of every ballot that comes in. Oregon has not had any evidence of any voter fraud," she added.
Oregon's method of voting is pretty safe, she believes. "I don't think it (the comments against vote-by-mail) will have any far reaching impact," she said with confidence.