Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

A Baker County rancher has joined the race for the county's Justice of the Peace.

Floyd Morgan, who lives at Salisbury Junction, where state Highways 7 and 245 meet about 10 miles south of Baker City, is the seventh person to file as a candidate to replace Lise Yervasi.

Her six-year term as the presiding officer of the Baker Justice Court, which handles traffic cases, some misdemeanors and small claims civil matters, ends Dec. 31.

She is not running for re-election.

The other candidates are: Steve Bogart, Roger Coles, Mike Downing, Gail Duman, Robert Whitnah and Damien Yervasi (who is Lise Yervasi's husband).

The position has attracted considerable interest even though the County Board of Commissioners voted this month to reduce the Justice of the Peace from full-time to part-time, reducing the yearly salary to about $32,000.

In 2006, when Lise Yervasi was elected, she had only one opponent, Jim King.

The commissioners' decision was prompted by a state law that took effect Jan. 1. The law shifts much of the revenue from fines and fees from Justice Courts to the state.

Commissioners could decide later to reinstate the Justice of the Peace to full-time. However, state law prohibits judges' salaries from being reduced during their term.

The deadline to file for Justice of the Peace, or any of several other county elected positions, is March 6.

So far, only the incumbents have filed for district attorney (Matt Shirtcliff); sheriff (Mitch Southwick); one of the three commissioner seats (Tim Kerns); and assessor (Kerry Savage).

Whether the contest for Justice of the Peace ends with the primary election May 15, or continues to the general election Nov. 6, depends on the outcome in May.

If one candidate receives 50 percent of the votes cast, plus at least one vote, that person will replace Lise Yervasi in January 2013.

If not, the top two vote-getters will have a runoff in Nov. 6.

More information is available from the County Clerk's office in the Courthouse, 1995 Third St. The phone number is 541-523-8207.