By editorial board • 

Olson a positive change to make for the county

Four years ago, we endorsed Allen Springer for Yamhill County commissioner on two main characteristics, transparency and independence.

In our estimation, he has failed to deliver on either count, falling particularly short since the board began undergoing a transformation two years ago. That leads us to endorse the man standing in the way of his re-election, McMinnville Mayor Rick Olson, this time around.

We harbor hope, based on Olson’s thoughtful demeanor, grasp of public policy and extensive record of civic service, that he could and would make a meaningful difference. We believe voters would be best served in the May 17 primary by giving Olson the opportunity to counter-balance the board’s ideologically oriented makeup.

Springer helped protect the Newberg-Dundee Bypass and Yamhelas Westsider Trail from unwarranted attacks aided and abetted by Commissioner Mary Starrett. But his work on economic development — one platform he campaigned on as a local business owner — has been passive, like much of his four-year tenure. His abrupt and uncompromising personal style makes him perceived, all too often, as rude and overbearing.

We see none of that in the amiable, mild-mannered Olson. And Olson is an equally ardent supporter of the bypass and trail.

We also fault the incumbent for failing to instill a stronger sense of direction at the courthouse. The county seems to drift along aimlessly much of the time, with little evidence of long-term planning or purpose. By contrast, the city Olson helps run is a model of characteristics vision and focus.

We find the county in dire need of greater diversity, involvement, transparency, accountability and direction. And we believe the mayor has the tools to make a constructive contribution in every one of those goals.

Like Springer, a custom homebuilder by trade, Olson is McMinnville born and bred. Now retired, he spent the early part of his career with Head Start and the latter with Oregon Mutual Insurance.

On the local level, he served on the city’s planning commission, city council, budget committee, airport commission and utility commission before replacing Ed Gormley as mayor. On the regional and state levels, he has also served on the Yamhill County Parkway Committee, League of Oregon Cities Board and Oregon Mayors Association Board.

In his Oregon Voters’ Pamphlet statement, Olson urges the county to “keep citizens informed by open and honest communications,” ensure “citizens will be treated with courtesy and respect,” demonstrate a “high level of integrity ... with the people’s business” and “respect the input from its citizens whether they personally agree or not.” In our view, those are commendable goals that would greatly improve county leadership.

We’re only getting one opportunity at positive change this year — introduction of a seasoned and citizen-first consenus-builder to the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners.