Ron Jacobs sees his experience with water agencies as an asset in his run for county commissioner. He will join Jim Mendiola and incumbent Larry Wilson on the GOP ballot. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

VALE – Ron Jacobs said that if he is elected Malheur County commissioner he would focus on enhancing the local agriculture industry and attracting new business.

“I want to see the county to continue to grow. I recognize we are an ag culture and farming and ranching are the two major contributing businesses to this area,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs joins local contractor Jim Mendiola in the May primary race to unseat incumbent commissioner Larry Wilson. All three men are running on the Republican ticket. Ontario resident Byron Shock is running on the Democratic ticket for commissioner.

Jacobs said he wants to make sure the county doesn’t stagnate regarding economic growth.

“I think the main thing, and I don’t know if I want to change anything, but we do need to get more business in the county. I’d like to see viable businesses move in,” said Jacobs.

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Jacobs said government needs to “stay out of the way” of business that wants to locate in Malheur County.

“We need to do whatever we can in the county to make things easier for business to come in. We need to keep the road blocks down as much as we can,” said Jacobs.

Water is a key resource for the county and Jacobs said his job experience makes him especially well suited to manage a county dependent on agriculture.

Jacobs, 68, said he held down the job of the county water master for “right around” 21 years. Before that, he said, worked and then managed the Vale Irrigation District.

“I recognize the importance of protecting our water and utilizing water we have available. It is really important we protect that resource and my experience has given me a foot up to understand those issues,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said he had been “planning for a long time” to run for county commissioner and, now that he is approaching retirement this year, the idea took hold.

“I want to stay involved in the county and the community and contribute where I can,” said Jacobs.

Born in Ontario and raised on a farm in Vale, Jacobs said he supports the construction of a $26 million rail reload center north of Nyssa.

“I’d like to know more about the reload facility. I think it will be an important opportunity for the county and I will do all I can to get it up and running,” said Jacobs.

He said he also recognizes the importance of natural resources.

“I think everyone should be able to enjoy those natural resources in the county,” said Jacobs.

“I think we just need to continue to push and help the businesses here all we can,” said Jacobs.

Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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