Letters to the editor: April 29, 2022

Stable and effective

Please join me in voting for Doris Towery for county commissioner Position 3. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with Doris and found her to be a straight shooter who understands Yamhill County.

Doris is a natural communicator who is a political moderate. She brings a solid work background with a broad range of experience and would work cooperatively for the good of our county.

Incumbent Mary Starrett has demonstrated over and over why she should not be re-elected. A recent example:

The County has an extensive and fair system in place for awarding American Rescue Plan Act funds to local nonprofits. However, Starrett joined with Lindsay Berschauer to instead hand out money based on their own personal preferences.

To top that, Starrett is going out of her way to make sure Yamhill County misses out on federal money that could be used to repair and replace roads and bridges.

Doris Towery understands that by rejecting federal infrastructure funding, Yamhill County will miss out on a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Doris will work cooperatively for the common good. She will not go out of her way to garner attention to herself by creating false issues meant to divide rather than unite.

Doris is your choice if you are a traditional Republican or independent voter. She is your choice if you want the county to have a stable and effective government.

Jerry Hart



Misdirection and waste

Last week, I got a mailer that said Mary Starrett was a pro-life leader I could trust.

That can’t be true. How can she be pro-life when she fought against vaccination during a pandemic that cost millions of people their lives?

She made her stance clear: No one has the right to tell anyone else what to do with their body, regardless of the community welfare. And yet, she feels quite within her rights to control my uterus.

That’s not a leader. That’s a hypocrite.

I don’t understand why she thinks Yamhill County commissioners have any control over personal reproductive rights. I certainly haven’t been able to find anything in the county codes indicating that’s within county commissioner authority.

Yet, Starrett sent an election mailer covering just that single non-applicable topic. Yamhill County commissioners have as much authority to control my uterus as they do to demand the sky turn green. So why try to make it part of a political platform?

I’m tired of all the boondoggles our county commissioners have sucked us into.

Apparently, it’s more important to posture to the state, and leave us to pay for an indefensible lawsuit, than to get aid money distributed. It’s more important to insult our county health director during a pandemic than to figure out how to help our local economy recover. It’s more important to send out nonsensical mailers than to help local residents feed and house their families.

I’m tired of all the misdirection and waste that Yamhill County residents get to pay for again and again, so I’m going to do the only thing I can.

I’m going to curl up on my couch with my blanket and read a great book: my voters’ pamphlet. I’m going to make sure that my vote reflects my exhaustion.

Patty O’Leary



Funding squeeze

Each year, the cost of providing McMinnville city services seems to exceed the amount of money coming in. This has been a growing issue since the passage of Measures 5 and 50 in the 1990s, as they restricted growth of base tax rates for Oregon cities.

A 2011 article by ECONorthwest describes the problem this way: “Oregon cities are home to 70 percent of the state’s population and 80 percent of its jobs. Municipal governments provide core services — including public safety and infrastructure — that citizens and businesses value and support economic growth.”

This is supported by a comment made by Kent Taylor prior to his retirement as McMinnville city manager. “Despite the city’s history of conservatism and healthy reserves,” he said, “the city’s reserves will be at a minimum by 2015.”

The problem we face now is not new. It is the culmination of 20 years of depriving Oregon cities of the revenue needed to provide core services.

The property tax limitations abruptly reduced cities’ main source of revenue to support core services, such as public safety, with no offsetting source of revenue. And a pair of recessions in the 1990s made the situation even worse.

As a result, during its annual budget process, we have been using these strategies: Eating into our reserves, which serve as our savings account; reducing service levels, sometimes dictating hiring freezes and furloughs; postponing capital investments, thus limiting how we plan for our future; and deferring maintenance on city assets, putting off repair or replacement. Yet we have been facing a persistent general fund gap of about $2 million the last five years.

We can only raise the rate on existing valuation by 3% a year. Our expenses have been increasing about 6% a year, and valuation added through new construction has not been enough to close the gap. That leaves us facing a long-term sustainability issue.

Kellie Menke

McMinnville City Councilor


 Easy decision

Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett is my choice for re-election in Position 3. This was an easy decision for me, as Mary has served us well the last eight years, with fiscal responsibility and support for local decisionmaking.

The Position 1 race was harder for me to decide, as each of the four candidates has strong points to support his or her positions.

I finally decided that the best person for Yamhill County as a whole is Kit Johnston. I especially appreciated his fiscally conservative approach toward taxes and his focus on basic infrastructure.

My decision for Kit Johnston came after I read the News-Register front page report on the process used for the ARPA grants process by the county commissioners.

He was the only candidate who answered your inquiry in a responsible way. He said, “It would be irresponsible of me to pass judgment on this without knowing the particulars.”

During my own time as a county commissioner, I know how important it was to avoid making snap comments based on headlines.

The best to Mary and Kit. With their election, I believe we will have a board of members who work well together, even when they don’t agree on all issues.

Dennis Goecks



Vote fiscal restraint

When you vote May 17, remember the one thing we all have in common is the economy. No one — hopefully — advocates for a weak economy.

Some will vote for candidates on how they propose to divvy up the spoils.

Please consider electing those who prioritize fiscal responsibility instead. Consider those who make the tough choices over fleeting contemporary programs. Consider those who stress public safety and reliable essential services only.

Under current management, McMinnville has drawn down reserves the last several years to balance its budget. Now it’s on the verge of asking taxpayers to approve higher rates for essential services.

The ask would harm primary industry, the driver of the local economy. When government taxes industry, it removes consumer dollars from circulation, and that’s a secondary driver of the local economy.

This is the equivalent of government taking out a reverse mortgage. Only those with just a few years to go would even consider such a thing.

Elect those that will trim government spending and restrain bureaucrats who spend.

Tom Hammer



Back to business

I have known Harry Noah for 11 years. He is a pragmatic and intelligent man with extensive experience.

Harry means it when he says, “Let’s get back to business.” He has a strong record of public service, prior experience leading public agencies, and extensive experience in managing natural resources.

He can lead our county to solutions for economic development, water management, infrastructure and emergency planning and homelessness. He has successfully developed public/private partnerships.

He knows how to work within the federal and state grant systems to obtain much needed funds for our county’s infrastructure. He has done it before.

Harry would repair the damage that has been done to our county’s relationship with ODOT so that we can qualify for grants that we deserve. We need to work with the state to — literally and figuratively — build much needed bridges.

Another project that Harry gets animated about is developing a program to assist our young people to develop hands-on skills to work in the trades. We need this experience here in our county.

We also need to give our young people the ability to earn enough income to live here. That makes it a win/win for Yamhill County.

What impresses me the most about Harry is that he doesn’t just talk about his ideas. He lays plans to carry them out.

When he talks about his plans, he motivates others.

He starts with listening to all views and engages people. That is what a leader does.

Harry is a leader. Vote Harry Noah for position one on the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners.

Yes, let’s get back to business.

Kris Bledsoe



Proven leader

I have not previously written about local politics, but changing times have created a need. Doris Towery has some proven credentials that many people haven’t known.

Doris was so effective as development director at YCAP that the Willamette Valley Cancer Foundation, which provides emergency funding for families who are suddenly hit by cancer, stole her to be its new executive director.

Then Doris was so effective at the foundation that Oregon Oncology Specialists, the Salem-based cancer-treatment that provides physicians and oncology services to McMinnville’s Hoover Cancer Clinic, stole her to be its clinic manager.

In other words, in a few, short years, Doris has repeatedly demonstrated her abilities to organize, direct and operate several different types of organizations in an effective and efficient manner.

She has consistently shown her ability to cheerfully, enthusiastically and effectively manage a variety of issues with a variety of employers, employees, clients, customers, agencies and companies. She gets everyone to energetically work together for the community’s common needs.

Yamhill County needs Doris Towery on its board of commissioners.

David Pfendler, M.D.



No to Starrett

In the Voters’ Pamphlet, County Commissioner Mary Starrett seems very proud of the fact she helped block a biking and hiking trail that would have gone from the Gun Club Road area of McMinnville to  Gaston along former rail line.

Starrett said that she helped to end the “multi-million $ taxpayer funded bike path/future Light Rail through farmland.”

First, the county got a number of grants to help pay for the trail. Second, in the entire state of Oregon, the only multi-million-dollar light rail is in and around Portland.

Neither Salem, nor Eugene, nor Bend, nor Corvallis, nor Medford has light rail. So why would Oregon spend that kind of money to connect the outskirts of McMinnville to Gaston?

Answer: They wouldn’t!

Some work on the trail was started with bridges and so forth, and folks who provided the grant money want it back. That will come out of county coffers.

I live on a hazelnut farm, so I know farmers along the route could easily post the times and days they are spraying so sensitive folks could avoid problems.

I have ridden on some supposed “bike trails” in the McMinnville area. Often they are very short, cross busy streets, and follow major highways. This is pretty dangerous.

Can we resurrect the bike trail along a safe route? Can we use the money we have already gotten to finish it?

Aside from agriculture, one of our big draws for folks is the wine industry, which is also agricultural. Many of these visiting folks come to stay for several days and would love to do a little safe bike riding.

Locals also enjoy bike riding. What do you say?

In the meantime, let’s not vote for Mary Starrett.

Judy Penny





Don Dix

Kellie Menke -- you are blaming the city money issues on a pair of 1990s measures that were designed to limit government tax reach. There are very few who would complain that an automatic 3% raise each year was not adequate. And the council has known approx. how much revenue to expect each year. Such info should make budgeting a much easier task, right?

So it appears the city council spends more than their income. Where does it go? -- you should know -- why not explain that? And where would the tax rate be if there were no restrictions on raising them?

Living within a budget is commonplace in the private sector, life in general, and so it should be for government (that's why 5 and 50 were passed -- to make government spending accountable).


Kellie, there is absolutely nothing stopping people, who feel measure 5 was wrong, from writing a check to the city for their portion of what they think should be owed the government. Have you written your check yet?


Don, you ask where the money goes. The city's budgets are online for all to see. This link will take you to the current budget and to all budgets going back to 2005--2006.


These annual budgets show where the money goes.

The Budget Committee's hearing for the 2022--2023 budget is scheduled for May 17, 18 and 19 (if needed). These are public meetings and all are welcome.

Jerry Hart

Don Dix

Hey Jerry, long time. Thanx for the link.

Otherwise, when one who makes spending decisions complains about 'not enough to spend', the 'explanation' should originate with that individual, not numbers on a page(s), IMO.


You guys are so funny. You keep voting for sociopaths cloaked in righteous glory.


An example of the limitations of 1990's measures is seen in our county fire districts.

Using Sheridan and Willamina/West valley as examples they are limited to that 3% plus a small percentage of new growth. Recent evaluations of all Yamhill County fire services by the ESCI corp show an annual increase in the cost of doing business at 9.6%. There go any reserves. And, no, no fire service makes money providing ambulance care.

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