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Backers of Klamath dam-removal plan fail at polls

By MITCH LIES, Capital Press 5/21/10

"Fiscal conservative; private sector solutions; opposes KBRA/dam removal."

That combination of political stances on Klamath County commission candidate Dennis Linthicum's website was a winning combination -- particularly the part about opposing the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which calls for removing four dams on the Klamath River.

Opposition to dam removal helped the political newcomer win nearly 63 percent of the vote in the May 18 Klamath County Republican primary to unseat long-time commissioner John Elliott.

Elliott has been a supporter of the dam agreement.

Linthicum now faces Democrat Kirk Oakes in the general election.

Rep. Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, who also opposes the agreement and dam removal, scored a convincing win May 18, securing 64 percent of the vote in the Republican primary for House District 56.

His opponent, wheat farmer Karl Scronce, supports the agreement.

"The people have spoken," said Tom Mallams, a Klamath County rancher and vocal opponent of dam removal.

Mallams pointed to three recent polls that show more than 65 percent of Klamath County voters oppose the agreement and dam removal. Still, he said, Klamath County commissioners endorsed the plan.

"Our elected officials aren't listening to people," Mallams said. "That is what the problem is."

Scronce agreed that supporting dam removal is an unpopular position.

"I'm sure it played a role (in my defeat)," he said. "It had to have played a role."

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