The Blue Mountain Eagle | Richard Hanners

The Grant County Court appointed attorney Robert S. Raschio as an interim commissioner through the end of the term held by Commissioner Boyd Britton. He was sworn in after the July 3 special meeting adjourned.

County Judge Scott Myers said the court received Britton’s letter of resignation on June 30. Myers noted that the court was not obligated to request applications or letters of support to fill Britton’s seat.

Myers also noted that it was in the county’s interest to see that the seat was filled as soon as possible in event that he or Commissioner Jim Hamsher were unable to fulfill their duties.

Raschio had filed to run for county commissioner in the May primary election but later withdrew his name. Myers said Raschio told the court at that time that he was willing to fill the seat on an interim basis.

Hamsher suggested a three-day delay in the appointment so the court could receive more public input and to provide members of the public a chance to throw their names in the ring. His suggestion was echoed by several people attending the special meeting.

Myers said the court had not received any formal requests from anyone interested in serving as interim commissioner. He noted that this was an appointment by the court and not a vote by the public.

While Frances Preston and Mary Ellen Brooks commented on the number of people in the county who didn’t know Britton was resigning, Judy Kerr said she supported the court’s decision to appoint Raschio. Kerr also questioned why Britton had waited until the last minute to announce his resignation.

Raschio, 45, earned his bachelor’s degree at Portland State University and law degree at the University of Oregon. He worked for a time as a public defender in Grant County in 2001 before working as an attorney for four years in Burns and seven years in The Dalles.

In 2013, the Oregon Public Defense Commission awarded the contract to provide indigent defense services in the 24th Judicial District to Raschio, and he set up his law practice in Canyon City across the street from the courthouse in 2014.

Raschio told the Eagle that he withdrew from the May election after he realized the field was pretty much set with a number of good candidates. He said he wanted to serve the county.

A supporter of the two initiatives to overthrow the ban on recreational marijuana businesses in Grant County, Raschio said he had taken note of the big revenue figures for recreational marijuana in Colorado and Oregon and felt Grant County was losing out.

At the same time, Raschio said he recognized that drug abuse was a problem in Grant County, particularly methamphetamine use. The public should support law enforcement, he said, but the public also needs to look at how offenders are sentenced.

“We can’t lock the problem away,” he said.

Raschio is an appointed member of the county’s Mental Health Advisory Board, where he works closely with Community Counseling Solutions. He is also chairman of the Oregon Professional Liability Fund, which provides malpractice insurance.

Raschio told the Eagle he agrees with the court’s participation in the Grant County Digital Network Coalition, which seeks to improve internet access in the county.

Looking ahead, he said he doesn’t like to think in terms of problems but, instead, of positives. Grant County is a small community, and its members support one another, he said.