By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Bladine: Evolving stories on Starrett and Kristof

When volatile political issues are morphing at week's end, commentary written on a Thursday morning is risky at best. But sometimes, the screeching sounds of impending train-wreck-like events are just too loud to ignore.

Two such events are unfolding in this last full week of January.

One involves threats by Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett – ostensibly made on behalf of herself and fellow commissioner Lindsay Berschauer – to oppose accreditation of Yamhill County Public Health unless the county department places dubious COVID-19 information on its website.

That could become a phantom story by the time this column goes to press. Perhaps cooler heads will avoid the threatened Thursday “showdown.” And in any event, the threat is toothless because that accreditation, while a prestigious, well-earned honor, is not essential to continued quality operation of the county department.

However, after breaking early this week on the News-Register website, by Thursday this story was spread across Page 1 of The Oregonian under the provocative headline and subhead: “Yamhill County leader threatens own health department … Commissioner Mary Starrett wants the department to discredit COVID-19 vaccines.”

Our news department has later deadlines, so you can read much more about this in today’s main newspaper section. It’s a story that won’t go begging for public commentary, already streaming in.

This week’s other big story involves final arguments going to the Oregon Supreme Court for a momentous decision on whether Nicholas Kristof of Yamhill County can continue his run for governor.

Final scholarly briefs are filed; justices now must decide exactly what framers of the Oregon Constitution meant when they barred the governorship from those “who shall not have been three years next preceding his election a resident within this State.”

Opponents of Kristof’s candidacy say “resident within this state” means a one-only main domicile; attorneys for the former New York Times columnist and national public figure say the Constitution differentiates between residency and habitation. Opponents cite state law limiting right to vote based in part on residency; Kristof supporters cite lack of laws and much ambiguity defining residency for purposes of becoming governor.

The Supreme Court decision, one way or the other, will shape Oregon’s 2022 gubernatorial campaign – one that would be more interesting with Nick Kristof in the race. And if the court says he cannot become governor, Kristof always could file (by March 8) as a challenger to Mary Starrett for county commissioner. Now that would be a story!

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


David S. Wall

Hey Jeb,

Maybe you could convince Kristof to run against Starrett since his campaign was just 'nixed' by the Supremes.

David S. Wall

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