AP NEWS

Challengers file against Freeman, Boice for Douglas County commissioner seats

February 28, 2018 GMT

Douglas County Commissioners Tim Freeman and Chris Boice will face challengers in the May primary election.

On Monday, Brandy Stone, an advocate for the Home Rule Charter voters turned down in November, and an opponent of logging in county parks, filed to run against Freeman. Tuesday, Victor Petrucci, a member of the Winston Planning Commission also filed to run against Freeman. Friday, substitute teacher and Army veteran Jason Leeper filed to run against Boice.

Both Stone and Leeper said a key reason they jumped into the race was what they said is the county commissioners’ misallocation of Title III Secure Rural Schools funds. At issue is $490,000 the county granted to the Roseburg company Communities for Healthy Forests, which spent $250,000 on video production. The company produced a video promoting timber salvage on burned federal forest land, but opponents said that was not an allowable use of Title III dollars. Freeman has said the county will hire an independent auditing firm to look into the expenditures.

Stone, 29, of Roseburg, grew up in Douglas County and said she’s not happy with the direction the commissioners have been taking the county. She said they don’t listen to people’s concerns or proposed solutions, and she disagrees with the way they spend the county’s money.

The courthouse, where the commissioners work, “needs an exorcism” she said.

She said the county needs to trim some expenses from the budget, including commissioners’ own expenses and things like new truck purchases.

“Douglas County has acquired a champagne taste on a beer budget. We have had times of prosperity, and obviously these are not those times,” she said.

She also said commissioners seem too ready to invest in projects like the purchase of Discovery Point RV Park at Winchester Bay, which caters to off-highway vehicle riders, and a proposed OHV park in Lookingglass. She calls this the “boys with toys” spending plan, and said she doesn’t think these are good investments.

Stone said she’s young and doesn’t know everything, but she grew up here, and she feels the county’s heading in the wrong direction when it handles the looming budget crisis by seeking more federal timber harvests.

Stone said if she were a commissioner, she’d want to reinstate harvest taxes on private timberlands. She also said voters should be asked again about legalizing recreational marijuana. She said the county’s missing out on marijuana tax money, and if voters realize that, they might reverse their 2016 vote to ban recreational marijuana farms and retail sales in the county’s rural areas.

Stone said she chose to run against Freeman rather than Boice because she wouldn’t work well with Freeman. Boice, she said, is more willing to listen to other people’s ideas.

Stone was a supporter of the proposed Home Rule Charter. Rejected by voters in November, the charter would have reorganized county government to expand from three to five commissioners and hire a paid, professional administrator to run the county’s day-to-day business. Stone said during the campaign that she received online threats for promoting the charter.

The commissioner race is nonpartisan. Stone is unaffiliated with any party. Leeper, 42, of Roseburg describes himself as a fiscally conservative Republican.

Leeper is a Douglas High School graduate who received a bachelor’s degree in history from the American Military University. In the Army, he served as a non-commissioned officer and clerk for 10 years, retiring as a sergeant. He was deployed to Korea during his service, and after leaving the military, he was sent to Kuwait as a civilian contractor doing the same work and helping train soldiers.

He returned to Douglas County in 2011, and is studying for a master’s degree in education while working as a substitute teacher for the Douglas Education Service District.

Leeper describes himself as a quiet person who usually focuses on work and family.

“This is stepping outside of my box in an unimaginable way for me,” he said.

Leeper said the main thing he’d do as commissioner is he “wouldn’t take Title III funds and misallocate them.” He said he needs to take a closer look at the budget before he can say how he’d handle the county’s financial problems. Though he’s fiscally conservative, he said the sheriff’s office is a “high priority.”

“I think that we really need to support them,” he said.

He also said he couldn’t stand seeing the libraries close, and while he’s glad to see the cities stepping up to reopen them, he’d like to see what the county could do about contributing to them. He wants to improve services while trimming the fat.

“That starts with the commissioners themselves. I’m going to look in depth at what they’re spending money on,” he said.

Overall, he said, he’d like to see some change at the county.

“I’d like to see some people get in there with different opinions, and maybe we’ll have a good race this time around,” he said.