Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Terri Harber


Carl Stiff has resigned from his seat on the Baker County Board of Commissioners due to health issues.

Stiff, 83, a retired physician, said Tuesday that for a while he has been having "some trouble with multiple little strokes."

The most recent happened just a few days ago.

"All of a sudden you have a headache, ..." Stiff said of what have become all-too-familiar events.

Stiff refers to them as "those little things in my brain."

Though he sometimes walks with a cane, the effects of the strokes have been mostly cognitive.

"I have to live on notes," he said.

Stiff's current term continues through the end of 2014.

The Baker County Republican Central Committee will nominate three to five candidates to replace Stiff, who is a Republican serving in a partisan office. The two remaining commissioners,Fred Warner Jr. and Tim L. Kerns, will chooseStiff's successor from among those nominees.

Stiff was first elected to the commission in 2002. This was the midpoint of his third term, which started in January 2012.

"I've been there for a long time," he said.

Warner, who came into office as a result of the 2002 election as well, characterized Stiff as a "real good thinker."

Stiff has served on the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council, Northeast Oregon Economic Development District Board, Mountain Valley Mental Health Board, Commission on Children and Families, Board of Property Tax Appeals, and was the commission's liaison to the Fair Board.

"I enjoyed working with him in this 10-plus years," Warner said about Stiff.

Stiff retired from his medical practice a few years ago. His specialty was in obstetrics and gynecology.

"I delivered babies for years and years and years," he said.

It's important for physicians to keep up their education and, he pointed out, "when you get a certain age it's time to get out of things."

Baker County Commission meetings have a friendly, casual atmosphere - at least when compared to most other meetings of elected officials. Members of the public almost always ask questions from their seats instead of standing behind a lectern. They are only asked to stand or come closer to the commissioners if they aren't speaking loudly enough.

And when Warner or Kerns wanted to know what Stiff thought about something during a commission meeting, one or the other would turn to him and simply ask "What do you think, Doc?"

Nominating process under way

The Baker County Republican Central Committee will convene May 1 to create its short list of candidates. This meeting is closed to the public, but the media can watch the proceeding.

Prospective nominees will give speeches to the committee members, who will make their choices by secret ballot.

This time "it should be an interesting process," said Suzan Ellis Jones, chair of the Republican committee. "We've got some good people looking at (the position)."

Since word got out on Monday about Stiff's resignation there have been five inquiries from prospective candidates, Jones said.

Although state law allows the committee to submit as many as five candidates, Jones anticipates the list will be pared to three before it's presented to the two remaining commissioners.

Those who make the list will sign a document stating they are willing to serve, called an SEL 145. Paperwork needs to be delivered to the county clerk's office within the next day or two because the 20-day window allowed by the state would end during a weekend, when the office is closed, Jones said.

Jones said the GOP committee will not choose a favorite among the list of candidates it gives to the commissioners.

"We don't rank them," Jones said.

Kerns began his stint as a commissioner by appointment by the Republican Central Committee in 2001. He completed the term of former commissioner Paul York, who resigned because he was leaving the area.

Potential nominees must be registered Republicans who live in Baker County.

The other option would be allowing Gov. John Kitzhaber to make the appointment.

However, that wouldn't be "compatible with the way we do things in Baker County," Jones said.

The person ultimately named as Stiff's successor will have to hit the ground running. The county's Budget Board begins work on the 2013-14 fiscal year budget soon, Warner said.

The fiscal year starts July 1, 2013.

Jones said anyone interested in being considered for the commissioner's position must submit a randeacute;sumandeacute; and letter of intent by April 22.

Her telephone number is 541-519-5035 and her email address is devilscanyonranch@wildblue.net .