By editorial board • 

Election guarantees us two new commissioners

It will be a month before candidates can file to run in the 2014 elections, yet one office-seeker jumped into the campaign season last week by announcing his candidacy for county commissioner. Voters may think it’s too early to adopt an election state of mind, but considering the unusual situation in county government, we would disagree.

Locally, it’s a historic election warranting early attention.

Two open positions are guaranteed to be filled by new county commissioners, such a rare occurrence that we asked the county clerk’s office for information about the last time it may have happened. The answer: inconclusive.

“It may have happened before, but we just can’t find it,” said County Clerk Brian Van Bergen. 

Commissioners Mary Stern and Kathy George have both reached their term limits. The two were elected into office on the same day in November 2002, with Stern outing incumbent Tom Bunn and George defeating former commissioner Ted Lopuszynski. While that election also delivered two new commissioners to the courthouse, it might have been otherwise.

The 2002 election also brought Sheriff Jack Crabtree into office — a related topic, below — and enacted a measure that made the commissioner seats nonpartisan.

You could say the changing of tides began last year when former commissioner Leslie Lewis was term limited out and Allen Springer won that seat. For 10 years, it was Lewis, Stern and George at the helm of county politics and policies. With one out, and two more on their way out, we anticipate plenty of election talk from candidates about varying visions of the future for Yamhill County. 

Last week, McMinnville school board member Stan Primozich announced plans to seek one of the two open positions. We expect many high-profile candidates to join him by the March 11 filing deadline.

McMinnville also may get a new state representative, as Rep. Jim Weidner has said his third term in the seat will be his last. 

State and congressional election races will draw strong voter interest. Oregonians will decide whether or not to retain Gov. John Kitzhaber and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, and U.S. Rep Suzanne Bonamici will attempt to win her third election in four years. All three are Democrats. 

Finally, Yamhill County residents are scheduled to vote for a new sheriff ... or will they? Sheriff Crabtree has reached his three-term limit, as established by Yamhill County voters. He has indicated, however, that he believes local action limiting terms for a county sheriff will not pass legal muster because it is a constitutional position under state law. He has not made a public announcement about seeking re-election, but he has let it be known he may challenge the county’s term-limit law.

There will, of course, be plenty of ballot measures, city races and other candidates adding interest to the 2014 election. With so much on the ballot, we urge voters take an earlier-than-normal look at what issues are important to them while closely following the parade of candidates and issues to come.

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