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Tom Mallams beats Al Switzer
by JOEL ASCHBRENNER, Herald and News 5/16/12
Tom Mallams, a Beatty-area rancher, won the Republican primary Tuesday for Klamath County commissioner Position 1, taking 43 percent of the vote in a four-way race.

Backed by Tea Party members and opponents of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, Mallams unseated long-time commissioner Al Switzer and beat Kelley Minty Morris, a mentoring program coordinator, and John Garee, owner of a local sanitation company.

He will face Democrat Ted Lindow in the November general election.

With 91 percent of ballots counted Tuesday night, the voting stood at: Mallams 3,766; Minty Morris: 2,438; Switzer: 1,596; and Garee: 890, according to the Klamath County Clerk’s Office.

The results show that voters want new leaders who will listen to their constituents, a jubilant Mallams said Tuesday night from his election watch party.

“I truly believe that’s what turned this election around. The incumbent has not been listening to the people,” he said.

The KBRA was a key issue during the campaign. Mallams opposes the agreement while Switzer supports it. Morris said the KBRA needs work, while Garee said is should be thrown out. The KBRA is a water settlement that among other things aims to stabilize power rates and water supplies for irrigators and advocates removal of four Klamath River dams.

A self-described fiscal conservative, Mallams said the election was about more than the KBRA, and voters asked for a candidate who will curtail county spending.

Switzer has served 16 years over four terms, longer than any other commissioner in county history.

The Democratic nominee, Lindow, a former county commissioner who now runs a construction consulting firm, was unopposed in the primary. He sat on the board of commissioners from 1987-91, the last Democrat to do so.

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




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