The commissioners race can be won during the May primary if any one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. This means you can’t launch a write-in campaign and hope to beat them in November so interested candidates must file by March 11 if they want to challenge either John Sweet or Melissa Cribbins.
Neither Sweet nor Cribbins have publicly announced why they feel they deserve to be reelected or even why they want to be reelected but compared to the previous commission it would be fair to say the courthouse has calmed down considerably. Bob Main maneuvered Cam Parry and Fred Messerle into filling the interim positions and the electorate blamed Main for the resulting chaos and turmoil which contributed to his very thin margin of victory. Even though the people voted against hiring one Sweet and Cribbins early on attempted to place a de-facto administrator in power by suggesting over broad powers be given to a “finance director”. They also formed departmental work groups to limit the influence of any one board member over his or or her liaison assignments with mixed results but other than that any damage done to the county by this commission has been passive rather than active.
By passive I mean what have they actually accomplished and what decisions do they make that department heads and staff haven’t actually prepared and laid the groundwork for them? Not that there is anything wrong with that but what has this commission done, in particular Sweet and Cribbins since they are seeking reelection, to fight for the citizens and bring in new revenue? Or old revenue for that matter? Coos County is especially hard hit by the special assessments and the loss of a severance tax because 60% of the land falls under these rules for purposes of property tax revenue depriving us of millions each year. Neither one is prepared to make a case in Salem to support tax equity in Coos County and neither one put much effort into protecting the Wagon Road from being swallowed up in Wyden’s forest resources bill, again costing the county millions of dollars annually.
Sweet and very possibly Cribbins support the community enhancement plan put forth by the Port of Coos Bay which effectively privatizes our local government and would put appointed rather than elected officials in charge of hundreds of millions of dollars if the Jordan Cove LNG terminal is ever built. If they vote to approve the move will actively deprive the county of millions of dollars annually.
Speaking of the plan, the Oregon Department of Revenue guesstimates the assessed value of the JC terminal to vary from $4.7 billion at start up to $1.9 billion at the end of twenty years. This may explain the reduced payments* as well as the insistence on the part of port CEO David Koch that JC would pay the same in service fees as it would in taxes over the life of the plan. Assuming this is accurate then it is even more outrageous that the cabal wants to rename taxes “fees” in order to take control because there isn’t any economic incentive for Jordan Cove at all. It is fascinating to see an economic incentive such as an enterprise zone manipulated in such a way as to change our system of governance and opens the door for some serious reconsideration of the statutes in Salem.
*From the beginning the public have been assured JC will make payments as if there was no enterprise zone and local municipalities and organizations have signed resolutions alluding to $32 million a year in payments in lieu of taxes during construction and $42 to $52 million a year thereafter.