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Huxley seeks seat on county commission

Thomas Huxley

 
Tom Huxley believes Curry County government needs a bit of a reboot, from the foundation up, before any issues it faces can be solved.

Tom Huxley believes Curry County government needs a bit of a reboot, from the foundation up, before any issues it faces can be solved.

And that belief prompted him to run for the Curry County Board of Commissioners Position 1 seat. The seat is currently held by County Commissioner David Itzen; Huxley faces the incumbent, Port of Brookings Harbor Commissioner Jim Relaford and Randy Dowler, a local business owner, in the May 20 election.

“I’m honest, I have integrity, I say what I believe,” he stated. “I’m not politically correct; that’s a disaster. That’s not being transparent.”

Huxley outlined his stances on issues in a four-page document that doesn’t address solutions to Curry County’s funding situation — the primary problem facing the county — but the foundation on which the county runs, or in his opinion, doesn’t operate well.

He cites incompetence at the commissioner level, a lack of transparency in both getting questions answered and obtaining documents, and an unwillingness of the board to listen to its constituents.

Huxley recommends five points voters should consider going forward: not accepting what officials say — particularly if one isn’t getting a good answer; understanding the core problems and be open to opinions and solutions; understanding what “county services” entails; realigning the organizational chart of the commissioners and the departments; and being honest and transparent.

“Don’t accept what I say, whether I’m elected or not,” Huxley said. “If you don’t understand, challenge me, ask. If they (commissioners) can’t be bothered to explain it, they’re forgotten who serves whom. I think that’s been forgotten some time ago.”

Huxley, who attends most county commissioner meetings, has expressed his frustration in getting questions answered.

“I am absolutely convinced that the answers are not known,” he said of what he sees as a lack of transparency in county government if straight answers are not forthcoming. “Without that foundation — key players, respect — you will not likely be successful. Period. And it’s clear they (current board) do not know.”

Many voters view the proposed home rule charter and the county’s financial status and the repercussions suffered by it — short-staffed crews, spinning off departments to nonprofits and budget slashes — as the primary issues the county faces.

Huxley supports the Home Rule Charter because it is a foundation on which voters then add amendments to address issues and needs as they affect Curry County.

“But it is only as good or bad as the people who are put in the position of leadership,” he said. “It’s not the form of government, it’s the people.

And it has to be bare bones,” he added. “After that, you get into amendments. That’s when a charter can shine or not.”

And he’s not happy that the commissioners have crafted only five ways to address the general fund: transient lodging, gasoline, “door,” income and property taxes.

“This is the total focus,” he said. “‘Don’t confuse us with the facts! Our minds are made up! These are your five choices.’ How many times to we have to say no to the same question?”

He said he is willing to compromise, however, but points out that, in his opinion, the county’s problems are not financial, but structural.

“Solutions come with answers that come with the foundation (of government),” he said. “The question asked over and over is ‘Why hasn’t this been done years ago?’ And the general short response is, ‘It could not be accomplished under the current tax situation.’ Numerous questions have to be answered before and as a foundation is built.”

Another aspect he feels must be addressed is the county’s wage and benefits program — and then, not on a basis of taxes, but from an understanding of how services work.

And ultimately, the county’s operations must be devoted to serving the public, he said.

Huxley pointed out a recent letter to the editor penned by County Commissioner David Brock Smith in a Port Orford newspaper in which Smith outlines what he’s done for Curry County and the reasons he’s disappointed in Port Orford’s mayor.

“It’s all I, I, I, I, I,” Huxley said. “Twenty-four times. ‘Me’ and ‘my’? Five times. Clearly it’s all about ‘me.’ And ‘we’? Two times. It’s not ‘us’ and ‘we the people.’”

When public officials lose sight of who they serve is when the foundation begins to crumble, he said.

“When they lose that, they need to go,” he said “Regardless what government form, it’s the people who are there. They’re working for us, not us working for them.”

The election is slated for May 20; mail-in ballots will be distributed beginning May 8.

In addition to the county commissioner election, voters will decide whether to change the county’s form of government from general law to home rule, and whether to keep Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Beaman in office; she’s running against Assistant County Counsel Shala Kudlac.

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