LWV Rogue Valley Local League Positions
Jackson County Government
POSITION IN FULL LWV ROGUE VALLEY COUNTY GOV’T POSITION [FROM 2017-2019 STUDY] The League of Women Voters of Rogue Valley believes that Jackson and Josephine counties have much in common, despite their differences. We support county governments via the Board of Commissioners (BOC) that act primarily as a policy making body. We continue to support their work to pass appropriate ordinances, approve all budget decisions and act in their quasi-judicial capacity in land use matters. We believe in a role that is more policy focused than administrative.
Administrative Duties The League supports the BOC’s delegation of administrative functions to an appointed, professional administrator, but reasserts the League’s position that policy making shall be reserved to the elected BOC and that overall responsibility for all functions of county government ultimately rests with the BOC(s). The LWVRV believes that in both Rogue Valley counties there should be a position of full-time administrator, whether such a role is titled County Administrator, Chief of Staff, or other similar designation, and whether established by charter, appointment or delegation of duties. Qualifications and criteria of that position should be established by ordinance to provide transparency. An administrator reports to commissioners and relieves commissioners of administrative duties, allowing commissioners more time for proactive policy decision-making and interaction with the public.
Appointments The League believes that appointments for any position, especially a county administrator, must have total transparency, including open application process, accessible public information regarding applicant pool, open meetings, professional criterions and requirements, and easily available information on determination of the selection panel. Standardized and open process is most important.
Appointments of Non-Partisan County Offices. The League believes that offices requiring expertise in a professional field, that are not required to make policy decisions, or are not politically sensitive, should be appointive rather than elective. The League believes that the offices of Assessor, Surveyor, Treasurer (Josephine County) and County Counsel (as of this writing elected in Josephine County) should be appointive rather than elected, and that qualifications conform to state requirements. (ORS 249.031) We retain our previous LWVRV position, supporting the election of a County Clerk and Sherriff. It is our belief that the County Clerk and Sherriff hold a special place in the minds of residents in both counties. A County Clerk works for the voters, oversees elections and maintains county records (ORS 205.110). A Sheriff works for the people, and is the conservator of the peace for the county (ORS 206.110).
Partisan and Nonpartisan Elections Partisan labels may help some voters, and may not pose a problem. However non-affiliated voters, and members of ‘third’ political parties, cannot vote in the two major partisan primaries, thus the vote of this growing number of registered voters is diluted or weakened. While there may be other reasons to support nonpartisan elections, the League believes that we must support nonpartisan elections for the Board of Commissioners until some alternative structural change to the primary system is adopted in our counties.
Composition The League continues to support a Board of Commissioners of 5 members or more in both Josephine and Jackson Counties to best serve residents. The increased number of Commissioners (including related administrative duties and personnel costs) should be accomplished by reorganization. Both counties need restructured budgets to accomplish this, despite the possibility that they may have different solutions. Neither county should increase the number of commissioners at the same current pay rates (and corresponding work hours). We believe there are alternative ways to increase the number of commissioners without taxing the taxpayer more. While part-time positions (or other options to full-time wages) may offer various opportunities, we reject volunteer positions, especially in full time situations. We believe that the concept of volunteers functioning as commissioners clearly restricts the pool of candidates to only those able to afford serving without pay.
Electoral Systems and Structure LWV Rogue Valley joins the state League in recognizing that certain electoral system criteria are important in electing the Board of Commissioners (as well as other offices within the counties). Most preferred are systems which: * elect a commission that proportionally reflects overall electorate; * enable commissioners to serve all voters of their County; * are easy to use and understand; * encourage voter turnout and voter engagement; * encourage those with minority opinions to vote; * discourage negative campaigning; * are resistant to Gerrymandering; and * provide for the greatest level of voter representation. Secondarily, we support systems that: are easy to administer by elections officials; encourage cooperation across party lines and are not overly burdensome to taxpayers. We do not believe that it is important for an electoral structure to protect the two-party system.
Districts and At-large geographical boundaries. We recognize that frequently like-minded populations assume that districts would be the solution to achieving a fairer voice in elections. We are doubtful that a change from at-large to districts would be successful in combatting the issue of inadequate representation. LWVRV supports a change to a full proportional representation electoral system (one such as, but not limited to, Ranked Choice Voting) for multi-winner elections in an at-large area (such as our counties).
Secondarily, we support a semi-proportional system. Recognizing disadvantages to large portions of the electorate, we oppose ‘at-large bloc’ elections which use a winner-take-all approach. Further, we are mindful that Ranked Choice Voting for single winner elections (aka Instant Runoff Voting) achieves less representation than a full or semi proportional system, but would be an improvement over use of plurality in single winner elections. Funding Alternatives.
LWVRV believes that the public should be made aware of better options to our electoral systems. Financial support for such changes in Jackson or Josephine County may be situational to each county, and must be flexible. If such an electoral change is on the ballot, we believe it is vital to provide voters clear tutelage regarding advantages and disadvantages, as well as transparent naming of funding sources.
Citizen Participation in Rogue Valley County Government LWVRV strongly supports the 4 principles of: * Accountability, * Citizen Influence, * Early involvement of Citizens, and * Transparency. Concerning the policies and procedures that facilitate citizen involvement, the League:
- Continues to emphasize the importance of citizen involvement and participation in the establishment of policy through citizen advisory groups and commissions.
- Believes that committees, advisory groups and commissions should not exist for Public Relations purposes, and that their work should be heard, respected and considered in a timely fashion.
- Believes that the BOC should provide widespread notice throughout their county of all vacancies on advisory boards and commissions. The Board should establish terms of service and qualifications of such positions. It should conduct interviews and select candidates who will bring diversity and experience in their service to their respective counties.
- Reaffirms its belief in the importance of the Oregon Open Meetings Law (ORS 192.630). Notices and agendas for all public meetings of each BOC should be given widespread, advance publicity in media throughout Jackson or Josephine County.
Charter Amendments: The League continues to support the idea the Charter’s election laws, (Charter, Chapter VII, Section 28: 1, 4, 5) should be amended to conform to state statutes. This would correct the current inconsistent time intervals regarding initiative and referendum.
— End of Position — Adopted May 2019
First adopted in 1999 (link to previous Study Report)
Medford City Charter
Adopted April 1975 – Revised 1999
The League supports the Medford City Charter of 1999.
Adopted March 1978
The League supports the concept of home rule in Jackson and Josephine Counties primarily because it gives the citizen greater control over local government and an initial charter similar to present county government because it would be understandable and workable. In the future, each change could be thoroughly explored and debated before adoption by the voters and the Jackson County Charter as submitted by the Home Rule Charter Committee for decision in 1978 (said charter adopted by the people).
Funding Ashland Parks (1992)
The League supports developing acquired parks and open space in Ashland by combining funds raised through private efforts with funds from public sources. The Ashland City Council should implement the parks and open space acquisition program adopted by the City Council and placed in the City Charter by amendment in 1990. The Council should propose and support a tax measure that produces adequate revenue to acquire all of the mapped properties. The tax measure should be equitable, stable, easy to administer, and should add balance to the entire tax system by providing for broad sharing of the tax burden.
Revised in 1982
The League of Women Voters of the Rogue Valley supports the Statewide Planning Goals and guidelines adopted by the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), from 1974-76. These goals provide overall planning standards and establish the framework for land-use planning programs of all governmental agencies and bodies in the state
The League supports planning which is based on optimum desirable population as related to resource limitations rather than pure population projection from past growth rates. The League supports coordinated and cooperative growth planning and policies among all governmental units. and comprehensive citizen participation in all phases of the planning process. The League supports the Urban Growth Boundary Concept, with development of increased density within the urban service boundary, which helps preserve outlying resource land and allows more efficient use of public facilities. The League supports planning that gives top priority to air quality in relation to growth development and supports the development and maintenance of a complete and diverse inventory/data base on which to evaluate present and long-range planning decisions. Adequate funding for personnel should be provided to strictly enforce ordinances and regulations as applied to private owners, business and industry, and public agencies.
The League supports management of Forest Lands for the benefit of appropriate inter-related uses: * timber production; * livestock grazing, with care to prevent over-grazing; * watershed protection and aquifer recharge maintenance; * wild life and fisheries habitat; * recreation; and * carefully controlled mining. The League supports adequate buffering techniques to protect forest lands from incompatible land uses. Present policies of state and federal administration in terms of amount of land and types of land involved and O&C revenue distribution formula should be retained. The League supports adequate standards for logging roads, based on future use or abandonment.
The League promotes identification, evaluation and preservation of Agricultural Lands as defined in statewide goals for present and future use. The League supports adequate protection for Agricultural Lands provided through buffering lands to be designated on the adjacent non-farm land. Exemption of any farm land from the exclusive farm category should be documented with adequate findings.
Public Facilities and Services
The League promotes availability and provision of services for current and future population growth to be a major factor guiding the planning and direction of growth within the County, with the Urban Growth Boundary designating the dividing line between establishing urban and rural densities. Provision of services beyond this line should be considered in light of the impact of development on rural areas, the cost involved in development, and the effect the development will have on non-committed resource lands. The League believes that county government should be recognized as the coordinating authority that must guide the decisions made when Public Facilities and Services are extended into rural and urban areas. System development charges should be implemented to equitably spread the cost of such facilities among those who will derive the most benefit from these services. The League supports actions that create a balance between providing public facilities and insuring orderly growth in a manner that is in harmony with the County Comprehensive Plan and its policies.
Air and Water Pollution
The League promotes education programs that emphasize individual responsibility, as well as that of business and industry, to improve air and water quality.
The League promotes planning that incorporates energy considerations (both long- and short-term benefits) in all components of the Comprehensive Plan, emphasizes alternative energy technologies, and restraint in the use of nonrenewable resources.
The League promotes development of programs that improve and diversify the economic base, with due consideration for air, water, land and human resources; development of programs that support and encourage expansion of existing small businesses; diversified new industries that emphasize the use of local skills and resource base; and development of tourism as an important part of our economy but balanced with the need to protect the livability and natural attractiveness of the area.
The League supports the Statewide Planning Goals and guidelines adopted by the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). These goals provide overall planning standards and establish the framework for land-use planning of all governmental agencies and bodies in the state. Planning. The League supports:
(1) environmentally acceptable, energy efficient, and equitable transportation alternatives to individual automobile use. These could include a public transportation system, car pooling, park and ride, bicycles and pedestrian walkways–an integrated multi-modal system;
(2) careful analysis of road placement in terms of impact on land use and need;
(3) mixed-use subdivisions, grid street systems, and open cul-de-sacs;
(4) inclusion of reserve corridors and greenways in urban planning;
(5) co-operation in transportation planning among state, county and all cities in the county,
(6) a public transit system responsive to commuters, disabled, and elderly, including covered facilities for passengers while they wait;
(7) integration of bike lanes, signed routes, and paths into road and street systems, with secure bicycle parking facilities in commercial districts and high density residential areas;
(8) use of bicycle security patrols downtown and on multi-use trails;
(9) direct routes wherever possible to decrease circuitous vehicular travel;
(10) citizen participation at all stages of planning and project development, including the establishment of a permanent Transportation Commission.
Funding. The League believes that taxation and assessment policies should provide adequate support for transportation construction and maintenance, using federal, state and local sources. Education. The League believes that community education on transportation issues and alternatives is essential.
Land Use Ashland
(1971) (1973) (1990) (2009)
The League recommends that governmental planning and action for land use in Ashland and the surrounding area should preserve and enhance Ashland’s unique character, especially as reflected in the following: its small town atmosphere; its cultural and educational resources; the health, safety and welfare of its citizens; the natural beauty of its geographical site; its farm and forestlands; its historical heritage; its varied economic and residential pattern; its clean air and lack of noise pollution; and its concern for the safety of downtown streets.
Ashland Growth: The League recognizes that growth, especially if it is unplanned, threatens many of these characteristics (under Land Use) and therefore that any proposed growth should have to be justified. 1) The League recommends that Ashland’s city government makes every effort to determine what population Ashland can support compatibly with the above values and bring its plan and policies into harmony with that figure. 2) The League recommends that the county government should determine what population Jackson County (and especially the Ashland-Pinehurst area) can support, consistent with the above values, and consider this factor in planning for orderly growth. Such growth should benefit rather than burden the existing community.
Preservation: 1) Taxing policies and building codes should encourage, rather than discourage, the restoration and improvement of existing residential and commercial property. 2) All multi-family residential, commercial and industrial building permits and subdivision plats should require the preservation, replacement, and/or the addition of trees and landscaping; the maintenance of water quality in streams; adequate parking; and a certain percentage of non-paved open space.
Open Space: Ashland 1) The city plan should anticipate parks, bicycle paths and walkways, recreational facilities, and the preservation of open spaces. 2) The City should begin now to obtain more land within the City and in the surrounding area for these purposes. The League urges the City and County to cooperate in acquiring lands suitable for park development in areas surrounding Ashland.
Ashland Coordination: 1) The City Comprehensive Plan should be coordinated with city zoning and with the revised county plan for surrounding areas. 2) City and county planners should cooperate and encourage more citizen participation in the planning process.
Appeal: The League supports provision of reasonable procedures for appeal from Planning Commission decisions.
Ashland Annexation: 1) Annexation should be in line with the revised county plan. 2) Before allowing annexation, the City should take into account whether or not there is still land available for development within the City for the proposed use. 3) Adequate city services available for the annexation should be determined prior to approval. 4) Costs of the extension of city services beyond the city limits should be borne by the development.
Ashland Sewer & Water Services: Extension of city and water services beyond the present city limits should be primarily contingent on the following: 1) The consistency of the projected land use with Ashland’s revised Comprehensive Plan, 2) Structural and financial feasibility, with the cost of extensions and a compensation for existing facilities to be borne primarily by the annexed area. 3) Enforceable written agreement that the property will be annexed after it is developed.
Water Quantity & Quality (2009) (link to Study Material) All water resources for Ashland should benefit the public and be an integral part of the ecosystem in which they occur. Applying this principle, the following should be supported: 1) Conservation as a major source of water. 2) Coordination of land use planning and water resources planning. 3) Comprehensive erosion, flood, and fire control measures in the Ashland city watershed. 4) Development and implementation of a comprehensive storm water management plan. 5) Access by the City of Ashland to all available sources of water. 6) Implementation of a meaningful Riparian Ordinance for Ashland. 7) Ashland’s operation of high quality, efficient wastewater treatment systems. 8) Community education regarding all aspects of Ashland’s water resources.
Alternative Energy: (1983) The League supports the continued independent monitoring of alternative energy resource development in and by the City of Ashland and the model plan developed by the Northwest Conservation Act Coalition.
Ashland Parks & Recreation: (1969) The League realizes that successful community development depends on a positive involvement of the people. With these concerns in mind, the League has analyzed and clarified some criteria for recreational development: 1)Coordination – Any criterion for development of parks and recreation cannot be isolated from the criteria for overall city development. 2) People orientation – All community development should aim to benefit the whole person and the entire community. 3) Versatility – Developments which are as diverse and all-inclusive as possible will encourage optimum use and thus allow optimum economy by giving the most satisfaction for the money. However, small neighborhood parks and walking and hiking paths are important in providing recreation and quiet areas for the enjoyment of the outdoors.
Adopted in 1999
The League promotes having adequate staff to provide comprehensive services to youth, including assessment, appropriate sanctions and treatment for juvenile offenders. The League supports development of facilities and strategies able to serve the growing population of Jackson County juvenile offenders. The League supports developing facilities and strategies for providing services to at-risk and non-offender youth and their families. The League supports development of cooperation between all parties dealing with children and youth including Juvenile Department, Services for Children and Families, schools, Jackson County Health and Human Services, other appropriate government agencies, parents and non-profit social service agencies.
Adult Mental Health in Josephine County
The League supports adequate hospital space for psychiatric patients, early treatment for pre-school and school age children, a separate detox center, and an Interagency Coordinator.
Homeless in Ashland
The League believes that the citizens of Ashland have a responsibility to help the homeless in the following ways: 1) Programs in Ashland should be for (a) people who are temporarily homeless because they have lost their jobs or have had other personal difficulties and (b) young people who have experienced various types and levels of abuse and/or parental neglect. 2) The League supports programs that provide short-term assistance/maintenance intervention with focus on each individual case. 3) The League is concerned that the community be educated about the types of homeless served. 4) The League supports coalitions and cooperative efforts between the City and various public and private agencies and organizations to address the problem of the homeless in Ashland.
Department of Health and Human Services: Jackson Co
The League supports the efforts of the Board Of Commissioners to establish a centralized facility in Medford for the Department of Health and Human Services to house both public and private agencies so that they can provide integrated and efficient services for their clients.