By editorial board • 

Dear commissioners: Please leave the legislating to others

Lindsay Berschauer and Mary Starrett

Yamhill County Courthouse

535 N.E. Fifth St., McMinnville, OR

Dear Commissioners:

To quote a line first made famous by Ronald Reagan, patriarch of the conservative movement you’ve so passionately embraced in American politics, “There you go again.”

We refer, of course, to your declaration that you know better than your state and federal superiors when it comes to the age of consent for medical treatment, leaving you free to override them at will. It seems particularly egregious when viewed against the backdrop of your earlier declaration that you also know better when it comes to the regulation of firearms, so are free to impose your judgment there as well.

That’s where the “again” comes in. After all, just scant weeks separate these two dangerous dabblings in ideological overreach.

Let’s set the record straight here:

Commissioner Berschauer, if you recall, your sole bid for state office crumbled in a mere matter of days in 2012, following your revelation of a previous close relationship with former state Rep. Matt Wingard, who was at the center of a sex scandal involving a young aide. And Commissioner Starrett, you surely remember managing a mere 3.6% of the vote in your lone bid in 2006, when you ran for governor on the far right fringe Constitution Party ticket.

You are both free to try again. But in the meantime, you are stuck here in the hinterlands, far from the hub of high-level decisionmaking.

As you should both know, as virtually career politicians and political activists, laws are enacted by state and federal legislative bodies and interpreted by state and federal judicial bodies. There is no role reserved for amateur freelancing by locals holding forth in one of the 3,143 counties scattered across our vast land.

We understand how vehemently you reject curbs on your personal control of your firearms and offspring, even when those curbs were forged through the very processes established for that purpose in the Constitution. You’ve made that abundantly clear.

But the proper venue for redress is the one other-minded people employed in the first place — legislation capable of withstanding judicial scrutiny. It is not, pray tell, idle decrees from on low.

Oregon is one of 31 states establishing an age of consent for medical treatment without parental authorization. It has settled on age 15 in ORS 109.640, a statute not significantly amended since 2012.

Some states have set the bar even lower. For example, Alabama, hardly a bastion of liberal thought, allows minors to seek medical treatment on their own at the age of 14.

And let’s be clear: Treatment includes vaccination against the full gamut of diseases, including COVID.

Whether your objection seems more rooted in opposition to reduced parental control (Berschauer) or just vaccinations in general (Starrett), it makes no difference.

The law is the law. If you want to change it, contact your local legislator.

To demand local officials countermand state or federal law simply on your say is a recipe for potentially ruinous litigation. And to what end?

If you are floating in idle dollars you are dying to spend, how about upgrading some ailing roads, replacing some aging bridges or undertaking any of myriad other concrete improvements begging for forward-thinking investment?

Oregon’s legal community is, by all accounts, doing just fine on its own. It doesn’t need an infusion of Yamhill County tax dollars, particularly when the cause makes tilting at windmills seem the picture of reason.

Thanks in advance for your kind consideration.


The News-Register Editorial Board



Thank you for this deservedly scathing indictment of Commissioners Starrett's and Berschauer's relentless abuse of public office and their efforts to violate (and encourage others to violate) established laws. Regardless of the issue - guns, a deadly virus, vaccines, the intentions of state officials, or a pedestrian/bike trail - this commissioner tag-team delights in spreading lies & disinformation in selfish pursuit of publicity and hoped-for political gain. We are all weary of - as you so eloquently characterized - their repetitious "dabblings in ideological overreach" and their "idle decrees from down low," while they waste taxpayer funds and divert time & energies away from solving problems and addressing issues that fall within the purview of their job description. The residents of Yamhill County deserve nonpartisan professionalism, honesty, and integrity from their county commissioners. We deserve so much better than the extremist, conspiracy-obssessed dog & pony show of Starrett & Berschauer.

Sheila B

I watch the BOC meetings every week. It has increasingly become apparent that two of the board members - the chair and vice-chair are overreaching their authority time and time again. Ms Starrett and Ms Berschauer think they are entitled to push their personal agendas at the expense of the citizens of this county. They think they are above the law. They are not. They take advantage that BOC meetings are not currently held where constituents can attend and make their voices heard. They make statements about support for their resolutions without evidence to back these statements up. The public does not have access to these records until the minutes are published. BOC meeting minutes are not published in a timely manner, so access to the record is delayed. I look forward to when the public can again safely attend the BOC meetings. We can then have the opportunity to be heard. These two commissioners are presently choosing to not listen. Hopefully soon they will have few excuses to continue ignoring us.


Thank you for this.


I appreciate the risk that the editorial staff took to publish this article. I know that there are people in the County who would strongly disagree with you. However, to me, you have proven yourselves to be true reporters of the reality of our local politics. Thank you!

Bill B

I rarely, actually never, agree with the editorial board, but this is an exception. I watched Ms. Starrett speaking at a BOC session. What an embarrassment!


Thank you! Very well stated!

Tom Hammer

dear editorial board. thank you for your condescending, desperate attempt to further degrade the family. Your defense of our proud state and its progressive policies that allow minors to enjoy sex changes without inconveniencing parents is so enlightening. Without your shared wisdom how ever will we implant self-sufficiency into the next generation.


Thank you for pointing out the cost to Yamhill County of the repeated overreach by Commissioners Berschauer and Starrett. In the meeting this past week, Commissioner Berschauer made reference to a call she was on with a lobbying organization. I would love to know whether she was there as a representative of the County, or on behalf of her business, a political consultancy. The risk for conflict of interest is high, and Commissioner Berschauer should pledge transparency regarding her private paying clients.


SO appreciate this editorial – how much longer will these two extremists be able to control and corrupt our BOC? (It seems very telling that the one {sarcastic} voice of dissent in the discussion so far is totally off-topic and, and in this citizen’s opinion, embarrassingly absurd.)

It is past time for one, and nearly time for the other, (July) to be recalled. I look forward to signing both petitions, and hope there is enough buyer’s remorse by now to restore some decency and representative leadership in Yamhill County.

p.s. Sincere thanks to Casey Kulla – imagine how difficult it must be to work with this despotic duo.

A New Generation

Thank you for having the guts to print this. Ditto what the previous folks have all said. QAnon is alive and well (and apparently running things, for now) in Yamhill County. Illegal, racist, embarrassing, wrong on so many levels. When is the recall?


Thank you for writing this, it seems from the comments here that most are thoroughly tired of the B&S show on the county commission. While Starrett may have achieved a short term victory in getting her pet elected last November, I suspect she may have done so at the expense of her own seat come next election. We need a functioning county government that focusses on running the county; and these two, most decidedly, do not deliver.


Commissioners Berschauer and Starrett are part of the problem and not working towards a viable solution.

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