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Josephine County: Another Justice Levy Bites The Dust

Scott Sanchez/Wikimedia

Josephine County's longstanding issues with public safety funding emerge unchanged from yet another election cycle. 

County voters rejected the latest version of a property tax levy that would have provided funding for sheriff's deputies, jail beds, and prosecutors.  Measure 17-74, like every public safety levy before it, went down to defeat.  In the first rounds of returns, the No votes led the Yes votes, 61 to 39 percent.

Josephine County is one of many Western Oregon counties that depended heavily on timber receipts from federal land to fill its general fund.  With little logging, the revenues crashed, and the county's property tax rate is too low to make up the difference.  Sheriff's patrols have been reduced to a few hours a day, with Oregon State Police picking up some of the criminal justice slack.  The levy loss ensures a continuation of that arrangement.

Also in Josephine County results:

Dan DeYoung led incumbent Keith Heck in the race for County Commissioner, Position 2, by 56 to 44 percent.

Lily Morgan piled up a big lead in the race for County Commissioner, Position 3; opponent Bill Hunker was a vocal opponent of the safety levy.

Trisha Myers was reelected County Clerk; opponent James Rafferty was also a vocal safety levy opponent.

Two marijuana measures appeared on the ballot... city voters in Grants Pass considered Measure 17-73, prohibiting ALL marijuana trafficking in the city, medical and recreational.  Early vote totals were too close to call.

And county voters said yes to Measure 17-75, a 3% tax on sales of recreational marijuana.

Geoffrey Riley is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has hosted the Jefferson Exchange on JPR since 2009. He's been a broadcaster in the Rogue Valley for more than 35 years, working in both television and radio.