In the community

Ontario group aims to repeal edict requiring county court sessions on border move proposal

ONTARIO – Blu Fortner believes people across Oregon got the wrong idea regarding a campaign to move Idaho’s border to include a number of eastern Oregon counties.
So, Fortner, along with Antonio Sunseri and a small group of local residents, decided to do something about it.
Fortner, an Ontario resident, spearheaded a move to create a new political action committee called Greater Oregon to educate people regarding the idea to move Oregon’s border. Another goal of the committee, he said, is to repeal an ordinance passed by Malheur County voters in 2021. That ordinance required the Malheur County Court – the county commissioners – to meet three times a year and discuss how to promote the county’s interest in any future talks about expanding Idaho’s border west.
The Greater Oregon political action committee was officially registered with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Elections Division last week.
The county measure requires the county court to meet in January, May and September to discuss the border move.
There is a perception, said Fortner, that the measure passed by county voters endorsed moving Malheur County into Idaho.
That was never the case, he said.
He said Citizens for Greater Idaho, the promoters of the border move, shows on its website that more than a dozen counties have voted to “join Idaho.”
“Talking about us voting to move the border, that is skewing the fact. No consensus has been reached in those meetings about whether anyone wants to do that or not. As long as it is misrepresented, we have to repeal the measure,” he said.
To actually move Idaho’s border to include eastern Oregon counties would take the approval of the Oregon and Idaho legislatures and an act of Congress.
Fortner said his group aims to start collecting signatures to repeal the county ordinance soon and wants to have it on the November 2024 ballot.
A third, broader goal, of the political action committee is “how to have an even ground conversation with Salem,” said Fortner.
“Our ultimate goal is community building. We want to use this conversation to come up with a unified voice to take to Salem and figure out how to get a more responsive system,” he said.
He said the group also wants to “take the concerns of Greater Idaho seriously.”
“We want everybody’s voice to be heard,” he said.
The plan to repeal the county ordinance is important, he said.
“We don’t think it represents us very well. But the bigger picture is how we get heard by western Oregon,” said Fortner.
Fortner said the political action committee consists now of about 20 people. The group held its first meeting in Ontario June 29. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 26 with the place to be determined, said Fortner.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous coverage:

Sen. Findley asked to act on shifting counties to Idaho – a request he sought

Plan to move Oregon-Idaho border leaps ahead with local ballot measure

Idaho legislators push for talks on moving Oregon border

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