Jeb Bladine: Controversy reigns in county politics

Controversy reigns county politics

News brief: Yamhill County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer has settled a civil lawsuit filed when she was a candidate in 2020. For perspective, this from our April 2020 news story:

“Lindsay Berschauer, a Yamhill County commissioner candidate, is pursuing a federal lawsuit seeking $500,000 in compensation for an attack by a former boyfriend’s dog … The lawsuit contends Berschauer ‘suffered serious injuries’ (in the attack) ... Berschauer told the News-Register she was visiting (the home) the day of the 2018 attack, but was not living with him at the time, contradicting (his) assertion in court documents.”

The lawsuit has been dismissed, presumably settled to the satisfaction of Berschauer, the defendant and an unknown insurance company. There are no settlement details in court records, and most such personal injury cases are settled with non-disclosure agreements.

That 2020 report drew 66 reader comments on NewsRegister.com, mostly debating whether the news story was a gross violation of personal privacy or an appropriate report on activities of a prominent political candidate. One of those comments was mine, with an obvious bias toward reporting the story:

“Stories about this kind of lawsuit are common fare in newspapers … When a litigant in an unusual half-million-dollar civil lawsuit already is a high-profile public figure seeking the highest elective office in the county, it’s not even a close call on whether to report the story. The staff produced a clear and honest report of details in a very public lawsuit.”

That lawsuit long since dropped down the list of Berschauer-related controversies, beginning with her brutal treatment of a political opponent last year. She won the election, fulfilled her pledge to help douse the Westsider Trail project, approved gun sanctuary status for Yamhill County, urged disregard of state law protecting medical rights for teenagers and occasionally treated county staff with contempt.

Berschauer, in sync with fellow commissioner Mary Starrett, has generated more local controversy in less time than any local political figure in memory – all in just about six months, which is the minimum time in office before being eligible for a recall election.

Local people have said unequivocally that a recall campaign is coming. But it takes a lot of time and volunteers to collect almost 7,000 signatures needed to initiate a recall election, and the effort isn’t likely to materialize until this fall, if at all.

I’m not a big fan of recalls based on political disagreements, particularly when those politics were well-known when the person was elected. Recall efforts should require malfeasance —wrongful or unlawful acts — or serious instances of nonfeasance (failure to act) or misfeasance (lawful but inappropriate).

Time will tell whether Berschauer opponents will reveal any such causes for recalling the new commissioner. Meanwhile, if I could simply wave an arm, I might put a moderately progressive community leader into Berschauer’s county seat in trade for her replacing some Democrat in the state Legislature.

Berschauer and Starrett’s ideologies are just too disruptive for effective county government, but the Legislature could use more conservative voices to help hold back the onslaught of liberal laws that dominates politics in Salem.

Meanwhile, all signs point to continuation of controversy in the politics of Yamhill County: potential recall; Commissioner Casey Kulla leaving office the end of next year; Starrett the subject of interesting term limit questions; and proponents of a five-member commission still working on that idea. Stay tuned!

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.



Don Dix

Jeb -- I'm not convinced either Berschauer or Kulla are ready to step up in political rank. Both are very green to the whole picture, so what accomplishments can either claim that would vault them in a popular or advantageous position? -- don't recall any.


Yamhill County is out over a million dollars of tax payer money due to Lindsay Berschauer's corruption. I shudder to think what the cost of letting her "fail up" into the state legislature would be. A rotten apple is still a rotten apple, even in a bigger barrel, and Yamhill County would to well to take note of where her recent partners have ended up.


"Time will tell whether Berschauer opponents will reveal any such causes for recalling the new commissioner". Well they can start with not upholding her oath of office, that's certainly serious and legitimate basis. What we have elected are two self-centered, self-serving commissioners. They certainly have the media attention which is exactly what they want. We need to find legitimate leaders and get them elected. And the voters need to be much better informed about who they're voting for. One more thing, neither Starrett nor Berschauer should hold any elected office - local or state. They are not qualified and have shown that they have no allegiance to their oath of office, nor interest in serving the citizens, only themselves.

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