COQUILLE — Coquille Mayor Matt Rowe has fired a shot across the bow of Coos County officials as he ramps up his campaign to become the county's next treasurer.

Less than two months before the filing deadline, Rowe's bid is currently unopposed, but as he has started laying out his platform, he's become increasingly critical of the leadership at the top of the county.

“We need to make our top fundamental priority of government public safety funding,” Rowe said. “I don't believe that is the top priority of the county at this time. I also think you need somebody with the skill sets to bring the stakeholders together.”

Describing the county's $2 million shortfall, Rowe said the county can't handle the budgetary crisis alone, which is why part of his plan is to pursue policies and reforms to encourage administrative consolidation and intergovernmental partnerships.

Pointing to the jail, which he said falls in the urban renewal zone in Coquille, Rowe said he requested that the commissioners put together a proposal to get urban renewal funding.

“As a mayor, I've tried to work with the county to find ways to get city revenue to prop up the jail,” Rowe said. “I've been frustrated in that effort, to be perfectly honest, because I don't believe the commissioners are operating in good faith in wanting to solve the problem. John Sweet has been on the record saying things need to get worse before voters will approve a tax increase, so I don't know if that's why they don't want to work.”

As alternative and creative revenue streams are sought, there must be cost cutting, which is why he intends to create a commission to evaluate governmental redundancies and inefficiencies.

“I want to put together a committee, much like the structure committee was a few years ago except that it was politically motivated, and I want to bring in business people, former union staff and people who have been in politics to see where we have administrative redundancies,” Rowe said. “Where do we have the waste?”

What also frustrates Rowe is how opaque he said the county's budget is and the number of wasteful actions he perceives the board of commissioners has taken.

“It's hard to go through the budget to see x, y and z,” Rowe said. “Part of it is going to be getting a more transparent budget process. Your budget is the most important document and if it's completely mangled and the people can't even read it, that's something we can get fixed right from the start.”

The highly criticized strategic plan sits at the top of his list of questionable expenditures.

“They paid a gal named Vanessa Becker $21,000 to write a 10 page report telling them 'We're broke,'” Rowe said. “I can't think of a better example of how wasteful the leadership at the county is. Our current county leadership seems incapable of having the political courage or leadership ability to make those tough decisions.

“That may sound critical, but they've had their chance to lead. It's clear they're not leading and so that's part of the message of what this campaign is about.”

As he launches his website in a few weeks, Rowe said his detailed vision and examples of wasteful spending will be readily available for all to see, but one main difference voters will notice is his intent to have a more forceful presence in the county.

“Treasurer (Mary) Barton has done a good job, but she almost acts as if she works for the board,” Rowe said. “The intent of the law is to be a guardian of the treasury and provide oversight and checks and balances for the board.”

Included in his push for greater involvement, Rowe will be holding town hall meetings throughout the county, beginning on Feb. 4 in Coquille at the Sawdust Theatre.

It's Rowe's intent to continue these meetings, should he be elected, to keep the electorate informed of policies and connected to county government.

While he has his fair share of detractors, Rowe has taken his campaign door-to-door, knocking on nearly 1,000 doors, raising more than $5,000 and racking up a slew of endorsements from local politicians.

“I'm going to make the same case whether I have an opponent or not about what my qualifications are, my vision for the office and what the county needs to be doing better,” Rowe said. “So whether you're running against nobody or four or five opponents, it's the same campaign. I believe I have a strong message, and I'm taking it to the doors early.”

Reporter Devan Patel can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 249, or by email at devan.patel@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DevanJPatel.

(15) comments

politicsmatters

Heard Matt bragging on Byce's show about the Coquille millions he is responsible for...? Come on, Matt! The city of Coquille has a paid Finance Director. It's not the unpaid mayors duty to handle the finances. The mayor’s powers are no greater than those of any other member of the council, with the exception of the mayor’s role as presiding officer at council meetings and other minor duties. That's the way the City of Coquille's government is set up.

Retread

Wow. Just listened to Matt Rowe on the Jim Byce show. I understand he desperately wants a job - but the job he really wants is County Commissioner. There's no doubt he lacks the accounting skills necessary to do the Treasurer's job, but he'd certainly make the County Commissioner meetings entertaining.

Al

Mary Barton has some very big shoes to fill - not counting the three or four additional jobs she was doing gratuitously. I'm quite certain that anyone who might land this job without extensive accounting experience will prove to be a liability to the Commissioners, the Department heads and the taxpayers of Coos County.

politicsmatters

Matt Rowe's pandering is asinine, reminds me of a bad political sit-com. He talks the talk...but I don't think he can really walk the walk. So far I haven't seen any financial background to justify him qualifying for this position. He will get the job if no one runs against him. That's how he became "Mayor" of Coquille. I'd be really careful about endorsing him, it could get embarrassing...

Retread

Rowe received $1,500 from Bob Main in 2012 for "political consulting", which explains all the cheering for the Sheriff's department - Main's favorite - and the criticism of Sweet. Rowe's simply announcing where his loyalties lie. Hinting that the Treasurer doesn't report to the Commissioners is an early warning sign to Sweet and Cribbins. If elected it will be only a matter of time before Main is back to his old tricks of crippling other departments by diverting their money to Zanni.

Just An Observer
Just An Observer

Where's my $1500 for "political consulting"? Pony up Bob. I will take PayPal...LOL!

jive44

If you want a politician then he is your man. He loves politics. Loves the game. Oh!!! That the purpose is to help Coos County citizens.....not so much. No. Heck no.

KarenKelly

"Gal?" Wow. No words.

logicalcomment

None of the big plans that Matt has fall under the jurisdiction of the County Treasurer. If he wants to be a County Commissioner, why doesn't he just run against Bob Main? It is going to be pretty difficult to fulfill all of his promises when he doesn't have the authority to do so. See the County Treasurer's responsibilities according to Statute: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/ors/ors208.html

randomcommenter

MATT ROWE is basically sour grapes on everything. If you want to save some money for the city go back to Coos County dispatching Coquille City police. He walked into the bakery and started in on a couple of officers there taking their break. They did not solicit nor want his advice. He was bad-mouthing the Sheriff's Office to them, thinking that would get them to vote for him? You may have some things right but going on the attack all the time leaves a bitter taste. I won't vote for you.

Just An Observer
Just An Observer

Hey, at least the donuts were being kept safe...LOL!

Kolhmar

Notice how many on the Coquille mayor's list of "noticeables" are from Coquille.

Trucker

No one any good runs for office in Coos anymore. Look what we've got running for BOC DALE PENNY? Rowe has been absent without reason every time I have tried and tried to talk with him down at city hall. He will not return phone calls nor does his buddy Ben Merchant. These people work for the citizens of Coquille not themselves.

Trucker

Rowe certainly isn't equipped to handle the county treasury. Look at the mess he made down in front of the Safeway drug store with his parking idea.. Law enforcement takes up a huge chunk of the budget every year. How Zanni spends the money is the reason for Jail and other shortfalls. All the lawsuits pending against the jail and DA isn't helpful to the budget either. No in fact everyone I know agrees Rowe isn't gonna help the county or taxpayer.

olcountryboy

And what are your qualifications for the office? Tell us of your experience as a leader of a financial institution. Take time to explain to all voters that the office of Treasurer is independent, does not report to the commissioners. What commissioner Sweet is doing to make the Treasurers office weak should be stopped. We voted down a county administrator Sweet. An administrator by any other name is still an administrator. Cribbins is too busy on so many non county related statewide boards.

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