Next step after the GMO crop ordinance: County Commissioners Vote

by Gregg Marchese

With the gmo crop ban ordinance now in place in Jackson County, we can once again all be a part of the ongoing historic movement to make Jackson County an even safer, more beautiful and vibrant place to live.

It’s hard to think of anything more important to our County and its new ordinance than the elections for County Commissioner (except maybe a pesticide Bill of Rights such as Josephine County has on its ballot now). 2 seats for County Commissioner are up for election this November.

In September I attended a house party for candidates Kevin Talbert and Tonia Moro. Both stated that they are fully in favor of enforcing compliance with our crop ban ordinance. Tonia, who is an attorney among other things, said she would endorse a Proclamation declaring a future month gmo Awareness Month (like Josephine County has this October). Kevin actually attended one day of the 5 day Seed Academy sponsored by OSU Extension Small Farms program and Don Tipping at 7 Seeds Farm. Kevin understands the unique opportunities Jackson County has now for seed growing and export to a world in need of gmo-free and organic sources. He is an open supporter of our State’s gmo labeling law.

Back in the May primaries, we were advised to write in R- Colleen Roberts on our Democrat or Independent ballots, since she declared she would uphold the ordinance. Her only opponent at that time was Joel Ockunzzi, who was not a supporter of the ordinance. I had reservations about Roberts and wondered if we should be supporting a 1-issue candidate whose other positions are Tea Party. It turns out Colleen got 200 non-Republican write-ins–mostly from among our gmo crop ordinance people, I assume.

Now we have Independent Kevin Talbert for Position 3. From all indications he is a far better choice than Roberts on most other issues, including value-added agriculture, water (he espouses WISE-Water for Irrigation, Streams and Economy Project* , thoughtful development that grows jobs without hurting our rural character, and other approaches we would consider progressive

Tonia Moro for Position 1 seems similarly progressive. She worked as a land use attorney in Jackson County in the past, representing 4 municipalities and a few Fire Districts, and more recently representing non-profits, citizens’ groups, and native groups plus the usual individuals and businesses. She seems to understand the rural/development issue here, and claims she will protect and support agriculture and certainly uphold our crop ban. Even though Syngenta and Monsanto told current County Commissioner Skundrick that they were pulling out, it might be good to have such an experienced and principled attorney among the Commissioners if a lawsuit ever does surface.

Tonia Moro seems to be much more than an attorney, and I think she would make the best choice for Position 1 on the County Commission. She is up against 3 others, including R- Rick Dyer, a Libertarian, and an unaffiliated Constitutionalist. Dyer makes no mention of agriculture on his website, but seems pre-occupied with law enforcement, ‘public safety’ and to be fair, some prevention on the issues of drugs, gangs and violence.

Tonia Moro would help move Jackson County forward in the direction the new ordinance has already propelled us. It protects our small local farms, water quality, ecology and public health from gmo crops and their increased pesticide sprays. Moro would uphold this law—something no Commissioner is actually beholden to do—and take us further in the direction of a healthy, prosperous, and thoughtfully-growing Jackson County.

I have Kevin Talbert and Tonia Moro lawn signs up at my street corner. Let’s join the ongoing effort and further strengthen Jackson County for the positive changes we all envision. Wise, ethical leadership on the County Council!

I remember speaking a year ago last October at the March For Food Freedom, in the ‘Life After the Ban’ speech. I spoke about how, among many other things, we could change the County Commission from undecided fence-sitters to full advocates on the gmo/agriculture issue. Here it is! History continues, and just like our joyous victory in May, we can all be a part of it again this November.

*WISE includes piping the TID and MID irrigation system, which I don’t fully agree with, on cost, environment, and other grounds. But much of the rest of WISE seems wise. Talbert seems willing to learn more and adjust, an admirable humbleness and responsiveness in a candidate.