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Conversation with John West at the Growers Market May 14

John was standing by himself with his own campaign sign and one for Marc Thielman, the worst Republican of the 19 running in the gubernatorial primary. The first thing I noticed is he wasn’t wearing glasses but probably needs them since he couldn’t see I was wearing a Democrats button on my hat.

So he started his spiel. He considers himself a hero who’s going to save the county. Says he spent $73,000 of his own money on this race because he’s committed to keeping the county from going bankrupt and if it goes bankrupt the evil state of Oregon will take it over and we certainly don’t want that. He told me the county has a $40 million deficit and will be laying off 125 people soon if he isn’t elected to help keep this from happening. When I asked him how he would do this, he said the county is full of bloated departments with people who take a whole month off for vacation and he’s going to start kicking butt and streamline this, transferring all available funds over to the sheriff who needs it to maintain his patrol. When I said a month off sounded good and maybe I should apply for a job with the county he said if I worked there and he thought I wasn’t productive enough he would personally tell me to “fuck off.” I was rather shocked that he would say that to a little old lady like me.

John asked me if I knew of Commissioner Baertschiger, then launched into how he and Baertschiger are going to save the county because Baertschiger will vote with him. However he threatened to recall the other two commissioners if they don’t go along with his plan to save the county which is basically to “cut the waste.” I asked him if one commissioner could recall the other two and he said, “no, but the people can.”

And now the reality:

I have been paying attention to the county for more than a year now and they do not have a $40 million deficit and they are not going to lay off 125 people. All you have to do is listen to the budget hearings to find that out. They can’t find enough workers. Every department is down employees because they are leaving for more lucrative jobs elsewhere. Josephine County doesn’t pay as well as other counties, which are also looking for workers.

Another falsehood is that all the county departments are bloated and full of money that can just be transferred to the sheriff. I suspect John knows this but it sounds good if he creates a situation only he can solve (sound familiar?) so he’s telling uninformed voters this to make it appear the county is going down the drain. Truth is, most of the county departments are run really lean, off the revenue they generate from fees and grants and their money can’t be used anywhere else in the county. I didn’t say this to John because I wanted to just let him talk to see what he is telling people. The only departments totally funded by the county’s General Fund, which is where property tax goes, is the sheriff and the commissioners.

I concluded this guy is a bully and county workers need to know they are in jeopardy if he gets elected.

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