Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Terri Harber


Baker County Commission Chairman Fred Warner Jr. filed paperwork on Tuesday with the Baker County Clerk's office declaring his intention to seek a fourth term in office.

And this time he'll be running as a Republican.

"I changed parties earlier this year," said Warner, who had been a Democrat.

Warner, 59, said he made the switch for some significant reasons.

The GOP's stand on natural resources management -- especially forest management -- emphasizes multiuse strategies. And the Republicans' need to stress private property rights and curb government regulations also seems more "closely aligned" to his own opinions, he said.

The county's budget continues to be conservative, Warner said. County government lives within its means and provides services with limited resources, he said.

"We've done a good job for citizens," Warner said. "And I want to continue doing that."

Although he switched parties, Warner said many county issues aren't ideological ones.

The office "is not partisan at all. We think local and we make local decisions," Warner said.

He also wants to keep working to complete unfinished natural resource issues that affect the county and its residents -- if elected to a fourth term.

"Things are starting to change and I'd like to keep the pressure on," he said.

Assisting Ash Grove Cement Co. to resolve its problems with more stringent limits on mercury emissions that take effect in 2015 also has proven gratifying, so Warner wants to continue efforts on that front as well.

He'd also like to continue the county facilities work that has occurred during his tenure and see the completion of the old Armory project.

Other accomplishments include helping to stop the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Travel Management Plan and working with federal officials on the Snow Basin timber sales.

Warner said he wants to continue working with state agencies and officials to keep "bringing back money to Baker County" through Oregon Department of Transportation and various other agencies to help families and children, for example.

"I like my job and it's a privilege to serve the people of Baker County," he said.

Warner also stated in his filing that he has a candidate committee.

When he ran for a third term in November 2010, Warner, as a Democrat, narrowly defeated Republican challenger Dick Fleming.

Warner garnered 3,543 votes, 50.8 percent; Fleming received 3,374 votes, 48.4 percent.

Before his election to the county commission he was a member of the Baker 5J School Board, the Oregon Commission on Children and Families and the Oregon Business Development Commission.

Warner has a bachelor's degree in business management from Oregon State University and is a rancher.

The primary election for the county commission race will be on May 20, 2014.

The last day to file for this election is March 11, 2014. Those using the state's electronic Orestar system have until March 13.

On the same ballot is the seat now is held by Commissioner Mark Bennett, who was appointed this spring to fill the position vacated by Dr. Carl Stiff. Challenging Bennett for the Republican slot is Bill Harvey, a custom home builder and owner of The Little Bagel Shop.

Two other incumbents also have filed for re-election: Baker County Clerk Tami Green and Baker County Treasurer Alice Durflinger.