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Jim Bellet bests Cheryl Hukill

By JOEL ASCHBRENNER, Herald and News 5/16/12

H&N photo by Andrew Mariman

Jim Bellet, Tom Mallams and James Hurst chat Tuesday night during an election party at Yesterday’s Plaza. Bellet and Mallams bested incumbent Klamath County commissioners Cheryl Hukill and Al Switzer, respectively, in Tuesday’s Republican primary election. Mallams will face Democrat Ted Lindow in November. No Democrat has filed in Bellet’s race.


Local business owner Jim Bellet won the Republican primary for Klamath County commissioner Position 3 Tuesday, taking nearly 43 percent of the vote in a fourway race.

Bellet beat incumbent Cheryl Hukill, Dennis Jefcoat, a Chiloquin resident and retired police officer, and Todd Kellstrom, mayor of Klamath Falls.

The path to the November general election is clear for Bellet, as no Democrats or independents have filed for the office.

With 91 percent of the ballots counted Tuesday, the voting stood at: Bellet, 3,675; Kellstrom, 2,045; Hukill, 1,523, and Jefcoat 1,393, according to the Klamath County Clerk’s Office.

Bellet, who admitted he was surprised at his margin of victory, said he wants to restore confidence in the board of commissioners.

“I want the voters and the employees of the county to trust the commissioners and trust the office,” he said.

Bellet said he relied more on his reputation as a businessman than campaigning to earn voters’ trust. Before retiring in 2010, he owned and operated Bellet Construction in Klamath Falls for 40 years.

Hukill, who is in her first term, said she thought the election reflected the anti-incumbency sentiment among voters.

“People are just mad at government ... and they voted for change,” she said Tuesday night.

The three-member board of county commissioners sets policy, manages the budget and oversees department heads who manage daily operations. Each commissioner is elected to a four-year term and receives an annual salary of $68,068.




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