- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - The sheriff of Josephine County has been turned out by voters after struggling to keep the jail open and rural patrols on the road while federal timber revenues that once sustained them dwindled.

Sheriff Gil Gilbertson had also been active in a group of rural sheriffs who questioned the federal government’s authority to control guns and federal lands. He was handily defeated Tuesday by Dave Daniel, a Grants Pass policeman and former state trooper who promised change in a county where voters have repeatedly refused to raise taxes to pay for law enforcement.

With 100 percent of the vote counted, the Josephine County clerk’s office reports Daniel received 56 percent, to 44 percent for Gilbertson.

Gilbertson said he had no particular reason to explain his defeat, but he wished Daniel and the community well.

Daniel did not immediately return a telephone call for comment. But at a victory party election night, he told supporters he was ready for a four-year fight.



“I’m not going to make political decisions. I’m going to make hard ones,” The Grants Pass Daily Courier reported Daniel saying. “Message to the bad guys: Here we come. Not just me, but the citizens of this county.”

During the campaign, Daniel said he would assign resident patrol deputies to outlying areas, shift patrol hours to later in the day, and increase the number of volunteers.

Gilbertson took office in January 2007, telling state lawmakers that the loss of the federal timber funds would bring a return to the Old West. Though he had to turn loose jail inmates for lack of space, and had only limited road patrols, state police and armed citizen patrols filled the gap. There was a sharp increase in people taking out concealed weapons permits. And the city of Grants Pass contracted to keep extra jail beds open for people arrested by the city’s police.

Gilbertson did not support tax increases dedicated to his department, saying he wanted to see the logging increases on federal lands that would bring increased revenues to the country.

With a population of 83,000, Josephine County is in the heart of Oregon timber country. It grew up first on gold, then on timber, which reached a peak in the 1980s, then collapsed with logging cutbacks on national forests in the 1990s to protect the northern spotted owl and salmon from extinction. Congress enacted safety nets to continue payments to timber counties despite the reduced logging, but the payments have declined sharply and are due to run out next year.

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