Standing alone

Commissioner Chris Paasch was the lone commissioner to vote for increasing the size of the board.

In an attempt to reduce internal struggle, Commissioner Chris Paasch is recommending expanding the Curry County Board of Commissioners from three to five members. 

“We’ve had many, many days here with meetings that have a lot of tension... we could sometimes cut with a knife,” said Paasch.

During a Wednesday board meeting, Paasch suggested putting together a proposal for a board expansion to be put on the ballot in the spring 2022 election. He said he would not support two new, full-time paid positions, but recommended a structure of three full-time and two part-time members, or changing the board to be all-volunteer.

Paasch said the current structure is becoming too divisive.

“There’s so much contention, if you get two commissioners that have total disagreement with each other, and can’t get through the personal part of it, it becomes a battle,” he said.

A board expansion to five members would match up with the size of the city councils within the county, as Brookings and Gold Beach each have five-member city councils, while Port Orford has seven members. However, a three-member board of commissioners is the standard in neighboring Coos, Josephine and Douglas counties.

While Paasch’s suggestion fell mostly on deaf ears, Commissioner John Herzog did make some brief comments.

“It sounds an awful lot like home rule...home rule has been voted down every time it’s come to the voters,” said Herzog.

Home rule is the idea of allowing local governments broad powers over their jurisdiction. A 1958 amendment to the state constitution allowed voters to adopt charters prescribing how their governments should be structured, what their powers should be and what procedures they should follow. Since then, nine of 36 Oregon counties have adopted home rule charters: Washington, Lane, Hood River, Multnomah, Benton, Jackson, Josephine, Clatsop and Umatilla.

Despite his comments on home rule, Herzog added that a board expansion is “something to think about.”

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I agree that it is something to think about.

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