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New campaign in Josephine County seeks to recall two commissioners

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Josephine County
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Josephine County
Jospehine County Commissioners Dan DeYoung (L) and Herman Baertschiger are facing a campaign to recall them.

A campaign to recall Josephine County Commissioners Dan DeYoung and Herman Baertschiger accuses the pair of obstructing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

A campaign to recall Josephine County Commissioners Dan DeYoung and Herman Baertschiger began last week.

The organizers say the commissioners abused their position and blocked public health efforts to stop the spread of the pandemic. They also claim that commissioners repeated COVID conspiracies and dismissed scientific advice.

A co-petitioner for the recall effort, Ken Smith, says their main complaints are COVID-related.

“They have pretty consistently blocked efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” says Smith. “They’ve been dismissive of public health advice and scientific fact. They’ve been abusive in their behavior towards their own county health staff.”

The campaign also says that the commissioners have not done enough to address concerns around fire safety and illegal marijuana grows.

Commissioner DeYoung argues that he does not believe it is his role to give health care advice.

“Am I cleaning my desk out because of these allegations? No. I just hope that if it’s going to run the distance, if they get their signatures and it goes on the ballot, I want people to have an open mind about the role and responsibilities of the county commissioners.”

The commissioner also says that he has been supportive of COVID vaccinations.

“My question is, if we did it so wrong, who did it right?” questions DeYoung.

Smith says that all three commissioners have failed their constituents.

“We're trying to give voters a chance to correct the mistake that they’ve made in electing these guys. And one of the three, Darren Fowler, is up for reelection in next mays election and so he already is going to have to face the voters pretty soon.”

The campaign will need slightly over 6,000 signatures for the recall vote to be held in a special election in April.

It’s not the only recall election in the region to come from the pandemic. In Shasta County, Supervisor Leonard Moty is up for recall after petitioners argued Moty did not do enough to resist California Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home orders, mask mandates and other COVID restrictions. Petitioners fell short of getting enough valid signatures to force a recall election of two other Shasta County supervisors.

Sophia Prince is a reporter and producer for JPR News. She began as JPR’s 2021 summer intern through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism and international studies.