County Commissioner Jim Johnson, appointed to the position in the spring to replace retiring Commissioner Gregg Loney, has done a solid job in his first few months in office.
Johnson, a Republican, has a clear grasp of the major issues facing the county and this community. He has learned quickly.
Johnson’s opponent, Mark Spinks, is simply not prepared to be a commissioner.
Spinks, a Republican, likes to say he thinks outside the box, but too many of his ideas are not remotely plausible. For example, he tosses out the notion of declaring the Blue Mountain Mall property an Indian reservation and getting a tribe to put up a casino.
And when talking about writing a county budget he seemingly ignores the fact that county officials — sheriff, prosecutor, treasurer, auditor, clerk and assessor — are elected directly by the people and are empowered by the state constitution to manage their offices. It is the commissioner’s duty to approve the budget, but they can’t — nor should they — micromanage the various offices.
Johnson grasps that, Spinks refuses to accept that reality.
Johnson is clearly the superior candidate.
Johnson is the long-time owner of a local accounting firm who has been very active in the community for decades. Johnson is well respected for his service as a volunteer. He has also been chairman of the local Republican Party.
Johnson said he is phasing out his involvement in his accounting firm and turning over work to his employees to devote more time to his work as a commissioner. We believe the citizens are getting a full-time commissioner in Johnson.
In his short tenure, Johnson has already provided valuable perspective as commissioners are going through the budget process.
He is fiscally conservative and believes it is imperative the county maintain a healthy reserve fund (it is currently 25 percent) in case the economic situation turns from bad to worse. This conservative approach to budgeting has been a boon to county government during the Great Recession.
Overall, we are very impressed with how Johnson has prepared himself for this position and how he has handled himself for the most part in the first few months.
But he can get better. Johnson has leadership ability yet, at this point, he seems to be too willing to defer to the more experienced commissioners.
Johnson, for example, has strong opinions on the current Rural Library District-city library flap. He understands this is not an issue that falls under the purview of county government.
However, we believe Johnson could use his bully pulpit as a commissioner to bring the various factions together.
We have confidence that as Johnson settles into the position he will be an outstanding county commissioner.
We urge voters to elect Jim Johnson county commissioner from District 1.