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Two file for seats on County Commission

Deadline to file March 11


by: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - Mike Ahern, left, will run to retain his position on the Jefferson County Commission, while Tom Brown, right, will run for the position being vacated by Commissioner John Hatfield.Two people have filed for seats on the Jefferson County Commission: Mike Ahern for the seat he has held since 2007, and Tom Brown for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by Commissioner John Hatfield.

In his third four-year term, Ahern, 57, enjoys serving as a commissioner and takes pride in the efficiency of the organization. "I think Jefferson County is the most well run government I know of," he said.

Challenged by the recession, which has kept the county's revenue from property taxes "flat for several years," he said, "We have changed the way we operate in almost every area."

By remaining fiscally conservative, the county has paid off its debt on the Jefferson County Correctional Facility and the J Street project, and will be debt free on July 1, Ahern said, adding, "Every single department is operating smoothly and efficiently."

Changes and improvements over the past few years have included consolidation of 911 dispatch services, which are now located in Condon — saving local governments over $200,000 a year; a focus on code enforcement; getting the Community Development Department on a sustainable budget; improving the road system; and working with the sheriff to keep criminals in the county jail.

"In my next term I have many goals," said Ahern. "I will continue Jefferson County's involvement in the regional health and education efforts. I will continue to support economic development efforts, where Jefferson County is the major funding partner. I will continue the excellent relations that have been developed with Crooked River Ranch, Warm Springs, Camp Sherman, our cities and rural populations."

The county is adding jobs, the population is increasing, and the county's farming and industrial base is getting stronger, he said.

"Now that the nation's economy is improving, Jefferson County is ready to meet the challenges of the future," said Ahern.

A real estate broker at Coldwell Banker since 2002, Ahern also manages investment properties in the area, including the Ahern's Grocery property, which he kept after selling the business in 2001.

Besides serving as a county commissioner from 1999 through 2002, Ahern also served a four-year term on the Madras City Council in the 1980s.

Since 1981, he has been a part of the Madras Sparklers organization, which raises money for the Fourth of July fireworks display. Nowadays, he's the sole member and fundraiser for the annual event.

Ahern grew up and attended schools in Madras, where he graduated from Madras High School in 1974. He obtained a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Oregon in 1979.

Ahern and his wife, Jane, have a 5-year-old son, Connor, and three adult sons, Aaron, Jared and Carson.

Council to commission

Tom Brown, who has served on the Madras City Council since he was appointed to finish out a term in April 2009, would like to move from city to county government.

"It looked like kind of a natural transition," said Brown, 69, whose wife, Janet, has also served as both city councilor and county commissioner.

Brown expects county government to be "a little more of a challenge."

"We want to keep the communication and cooperation going that we have now," he said, referring to the relations between the city and county. "I think I can help keep that going."

After serving on the Madras Planning Commission for seven years, until he was appointed to the council, Brown said he has a great deal of background in land use, "so working with communities would be a natural for me."

"We're all thinking growth is going to come back," he said. "The county has a role to make sure that goes smoothly."

Brown had been considering a run for County Commission, and decided to jump in when he learned that Hatfield would not be running.

"I have a fairly long history of community service, and I'm not going into this with an axe to grind, but to continue what I've been doing at the county instead of the city," said Brown, who grew up on a farm outside Madras.

Besides serving on the planning commission, Brown currently serves on the Airport Industrial Site Committee, the Airshow of the Cascades Board of Directors and the Madras Redevelopment Commission.

"I'd love to stay on (the MRC)," he said. "It would be a benefit to have a county person on there."

Brown said he has a working relationship with U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and Rep. Greg Walden. "They know who I am when we meet, and will take time to listen," he said.

Since 1984, he has worked as an insurance adjuster for Deschutes Adjusting Co. He has owned Coach Works since 1976, and is a member of the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the Madras Elks, and a volunteer for the veterans committee and Boy Scouts Troop 58.

While still in high school, Brown joined the Oregon National Guard, serving from 1961-67, on active duty at Fort Ord, Calif.

His grandparents, Tom and Maude Taylor, homesteaded in Jefferson County, said Brown, who is "very committed to the community."

He and his wife, Janet, who is the Jefferson County manager for Economic Development for Central Oregon, have two adult sons, Cody, 32, a major in the U.S. Army, who is currently attending Command College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and Jordan, 29, who works for Symantec Corp., in Springfield.

Deadline in March

Candidates for positions 1 and 2 on the County Commission, as well as any challengers for the positions of county clerk or sheriff, have until March 11 to file.

County Clerk Kathy Marston has filed for another four-year term in her position, while Sheriff Jim Adkins has not yet filed for his position, but indicated that he intends to file.

Marston said that candidates for commission will be elected in the May 20 primary if they receive more than 50 percent of the vote.

The positions of clerk and sheriff will only appear on the May ballot if three or more candidates file. "If there are only two candidates, it goes straight to the November election," she said.




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