Herman Welch, Waldport Mayor and lifelong Republican recently joined the Independent Party of Oregon, making him the first Independent Party member to hold public office in the state of Oregon.
Welch recently announced his switch to the Independent Party in a letter to the Oregonian:
Mayor no longer Republican
The Oregonian Feb. 22, 2009
At the age of 74 and after 53 years, I have finally quit the Republican Party and have re-registered as an Independent voter.
Most of us understand that the president's economic recovery program is not perfect and perhaps has flaws. But we also understand that our country is in the midst of a very serious crisis. The president understands the gravity of the problem and is trying to do something about it.
The Republicans in Congress (except for the three who put their country first and set aside party ideology by voting for the stimulus bill) have offered no constructive economic recovery ideas except to continue tax cuts for the rich (if any are left) and offer only worn-out ideology.
I still believe in having political parties that engage in vigorous constructive dialogue on economic issues, but as President Obama said recently, "When the town is burning you don't check party labels. Everybody needs to grab a hose."
Other Independents to hold local office are Robert Brundage of Sublimity, Soso Nedjeljko of Butte Falls, and Wayne Rofinot of Warren. Other prominent Independent Party members include former State Rep. Tony VanVliet and former Eugene Mayor Jim Torrey.