Allie Colosky
The Bulletin

Name: Mary Kendall

Age: 63

Residence: Madras

Education: No college degree

Name: Courtney Snead

Age: 36

Residence: Madras

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science, Northern Arizona University; Master’s degree in public administration, Northern Arizona University.

Name: Kelly Simmelink

Age: 48

Residence: Madras

Education: Associate degree in graphic technology, Mt. Hood Community College.

Three candidates will face off in the May primary election for one of the two Jefferson County Commission positions voters will see on the ballot.

Mary Kendall, Courtney Snead and Kelly Simmelink are running for the nonpartisan position that will be vacated by Commissioner Mike Ahern, who didn’t file for re-election.

Kendall, 63, of Madras, was born in Portugal and spent most of her life in Santa Clara, California, before moving to Salem. She moved to Madras three years ago after she married her husband, Tim.

Kendall’s previous work includes as a broker, unit secretary for Salem Hospital and educational assistant.

A licensed real estate agent, Kendall has prior experience listening to people and representing the wants and needs of individuals in the community, she said.

“I really try to listen to people without any preconceived notions because that is what I consider a very high standard of representation,” Kendall said. “Hearing what people are saying and being able to articulate that to the county commission is very important.”

Kendall said she can handle tough decisions.

“You need enough courage to be able to stand strong and deliver words correctly about who and what you’re representing,” Kendall said.

Bringing the tech industry is the best way to boost the economy, she said, and partnering with a city like Prineville would be advantageous.

“Manufacturing is good, but dealing with the transportation isn’t always as easy to do.” Kendall said. “What else can we bring to Central Oregon that doesn’t make us so vulnerable to the weather or elements?”

Simmelink, 48, of Madras, is the homegrown candidate who knows the population best, he said.

“I know everybody, and I don’t say that lightly,” Simmelink said. “I am the guy who knows a guy. I know what’s on people’s minds, and I use a common-sense approach to solve problems.”

Born in Madras, Simmelink graduated from Madras High School in 1987 and attended Mt. Hood Community College. He started his own embroidery and screen printing business called Collegiate USA in 1992. He later sold the company, moved back to Madras in 2005 and opened Identity Zone, also an embroidery and screen printing business.

“I am the candidate with the small-business experience,” Simmelink said. “I really would like to see manufacturing and tourism come to Madras. I would like to see us move toward those things specifically.”

Simmelink has served on the Jefferson County Kids Club board of directors and in Rotary.

“I am a family man,” he said. “I am dedicated to my business and the people of the county. My commitment to the community is strong.”

Snead, 36, of Madras, has spent her adult life preparing for a role like this, she said.

“I’ve got 13 years of public-sector management experience, and my background and education and all the experience lends itself well to being an asset to the county,” Snead said.

Snead was born in Kingston, New York, and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. After graduating high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration. She is working toward a doctorate in educational leadership at Oregon State University.

“I love to work in public service,” she said. “I want people to think about having somebody in there who is truly a public servant at heart. Public office is a public trust, and I take that very seriously.”

Since moving to Oregon in 2006, Snead has served as the interim executive director and the chief financial officer and operations manager of the Let’s Talk Diversity Coalition. She currently serves on the Jefferson County School Board.

“I think the most important thing you need to know about someone is their core values,” Snead said. “For me, it’s faith and family, democracy and service to the community, and integrity.”

Snead thinks collaboration between the public and private sectors will help the county face a variety of issues, she said.

“We need to work together proactively to do things efficiently with taxpayer money and try to bridge any gaps that exist between public and private-sector partnerships,” Snead said.

Political newcomer Kimberly Schmith is challenging Commissioner Mae Huston for the other position Jefferson County voters will see on the ballot.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829,