Changes at Yamhill County make 2013 time of transition
Consider 2013 a time of considerable transition for Yamhill County government. Three newly-elected officials were sworn in last week, creating different dynamics in county governance that will unfold and evolve in the months ahead.
Election of Allen Springer as county commissioner is a game-changer because he becomes the first new commission member in a decade. Springer brings an independent record and vision to the seat, and it will be enlightening to see how well he works with colleagues Kathy George and Mary Stern as both approach their term limits over the next two years.
For years, George and former commissioner Leslie Lewis set much of the county’s agenda with closely aligned philosophies of governance. It remains to be seen how alliances will develop among the three commissioners.
New Treasurer Michael Green got a head start on his position with early appointment in December. He immediately jumped in to revise and update the county’s investment portfolio, with that plan going to commissioners at the end of this month prior to submission to the state treasurer’s office. As drafted, the plan would allow the county to broaden its portfolio beyond the local government pool by pursuing stronger investment opportunities.
A third official, county clerk Brian Van Bergen, has his own challenges after years of well-reported turmoil within the clerk’s office. He will be working to push the office more fully into the digital age, fulfill his campaign promise to update the Commissioner’s Journal, modernize the office’s website and reach out to local classrooms with civic lessons about the work of county government. Change often brings renewed energy, and we look for that in the sometimes overlooked but very important office of the county clerk.
It’s not only about different faces in Yamhill County government, but also new programs and challenges.
Health and Human Services leaders are experiencing a time of great transformation in services; the county assessor is rolling out a new computer management system; the Sheriff’s Office continues to struggle with underfunded programs; and the county counsel, as recently reported, is distracted by legal issues outside his Yamhill County work.
Change, as often is said, is the one constant. In government, as in the private sector, it takes strong leadership and teamwork to nurture that change for the better. It won’t be long before we begin to see results from the county’s influx of new leaders and new ideas.