After 13-year hiatus, former county commissioner runs again

After 13-year hiatus, former county commissioner runs again

FLORENCE, Ore. -- Jerry Rust was a Lane County Commissioner when Jimmy Carter was still in the White House.

Now he wants a chance to return to the Courthouse after a 13-year political hiatus.

Declared candidates for West Lane commissioner:

Jay Bozievich 
(prospective petition)
Tony McCown
(prospective petition)
David William Northey
Jerry Rust
Fred Starr
Anselmo Villanueva

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"It's a while; Rip Van Winkle just woke up," Rust joked. He's hoping in 2010 to jump into the saddle again.

Why now?

"I love this county. It's a great county," he said. "I've got my roots here."

Deep roots -- from his days on the "Hoedads" tree planting crews, to 20 years as commissioner from South Eugene.

Rust is a candidate now in the West Lane district representing Veneta, Junction City, Florence and the rest of western Lane County.

After 13 years, some issues don't change.

"Balancing the budget is going to be the biggest challenge that we face over the next 2 to 4 years," he said.

Whatever happens, money for the county jail needs to be protected, given last year's controversy, he said.

"I personally felt that was a mistake to sit on the money when we had a jail -- a revolving door," Rust said.

His second major issue is jobs and boosting employment in Lane County's core industries of wood products, tourism, fishing and agriculture.

Rust wants to grow more jobs by making sure more locally grown crops hit our dinner tables. He claims just 1 to 2 percent of farm produce consumed in Lane County is grown here. 

"We need to set a much higher target than that, say 25 percent. That's food security and it creates jobs," Rust said.

He adds he never intended to run, but Commissioner Bill Fleenor's decision to bypass re-election opened the door.

"I've been there. Got the t-shirt, OK?  I'm doing it because I want to make a difference," he said.

As many as five other candidates are in the running for West Lane commissioner.  KVAL will have profile stories on those candidates, later in the campaign season.