Jefferson County voters may fill two seats on the nonpartisan County Commission in the May primary election. Seat 1 candidates are Mae Huston, the incumbent, and Kim Schmith, who hopes to unseat her.

Three candidates are running for Seat 2. Mary Kendall, Kelly Simmelink and Courtney Snead all want the job. If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will face off again in November.

Voters should choose Schmith and Simmelink.

Schmith, 51, grew up in Madras and attended Oregon State University. Now the owner of an acupuncture business in Madras, she has worked as a drug and alcohol counselor and with J Bar J Youth Services.

Schmith is running because she disagrees with many of Huston’s decisions, she says. She believes the county’s mental and public health services need to be more inclusive, and she believes the county needs to focus more on economic development and support those efforts at Crooked River Ranch.

Huston never called the editorial board back.

The choice is very difficult in the Seat 2 race. Simmelink, 48, and Snead, 36, both would make good commissioners. In the end, however, voters should choose Simmelink over both Snead and Kendall.

While Kendall, 63, has clear views about what she believes the commission should do, she’s lived in the county for only about three years.

Snead sits on the Jefferson County school board, and her two elected jobs would overlap for six months. She’s bright and articulate and has made a career of public service and would serve the county well.

Simmelink offers voters a familiarity with the county and its residents that neither opponent can match. He attended Madras schools, left for a few years as an adult and returned. He believes the county has excellent administrators who have made its ability to finance its share of the Public Employees Retirement System’s unfunded liability easier than it will be elsewhere. He would focus on economic development in an effort to turn the county into more than a “flyover” between Bend and Portland. He would be a valuable addition to the commission.

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