MEASURE 10-159
Douglas County Home Rule Charter

About Us


  • What is Home Rule? Home Rule is the privilege of citizens at the grass roots level to manage their own affairs with minimal interference from the State. Home Rule assumes that government issues should be solved at the level closest to the people. “Local self-government is the cornerstone of democratic government.”  
  •   What is the difference between “General Law” and “Home Rule”? Counties operate under two categories of local government: 1) General Law; and 2) Home Rule.  General Law - a County whose powers are limited by the specific authority granted by Oregon statutes. General Law counties are restricted to doing what state statutes direct or permit them to do. A specific grant of authority or permission must be provided in the state statutes to initiate a particular action. If a General Law County is not granted the express or implied power by the State to initiate a particular action, none can be taken.  
  • Home Rule - The legal position of Home Rule counties is the reverse of General Law counties. Rather than looking to state statutes to determine what they may do, as General Law counties must do, Home Rule counties look to their local Charters to determine what they may do. A Home Rule County may generally take any action that is not prohibited by the Oregon Constitution or statutes as long as the authority is granted in the Charter of the County. Home Rule counties have the full power of self-government and may take any action in the interest of the citizens' health, safety and welfare that is not contrary to the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions or federal or state laws.  What is a County Charter?
    Home Rule counties must write and adopt a Charter. The Charter is akin to a municipal constitution that is written and adopted by an election of the citizens. The Charter defines and limits the powers, duties and responsibility of local government based on local preferences and desires. It defines the form of local government and establishes organizational provisions. The citizens determine the necessary controls over their County government such as elections, referendums, initiatives and recall, and define the procedures to amend the Charter. Essentially, the Charter describes and defines local government based on local preferences and controls as opposed to general laws written by the Oregon legislature. 
  • How is a Home Rule Charter Adopted? The Oregon Constitution provides the procedure for adoption of a Home Rule Charter, which includes: 1) The Initiative Process; 2) A Charter Committee. Citizens proposing Measure 10-159 chose the Initiative process.  
  •  What are some distinctions between a General Law County and a Home Rule County?  There are numerous distinctions between a Home Rule County and a General Law County. Following are a few distinctions that tend to receive the most attention amongst counties considering the transition:  1. Home Rule is self-governance in its ultimate form. The Charter is written by the citizens, adopted by the citizens and defines the local government. The community prepares its Charter based on community norms, values and priorities. Unlike the general laws of the State, which may address a multitude of conditions faced in many Oregon communities, Home Rule Counties define for themselves how they want to be governed.  2. Home Rule communities have a variety of tools available to manage the affairs of County government. The Charter provides a local response to the form of government desired by citizens; defines the structure of County government; establishes controls over County finances; and limitations on the powers of County government.  3. Initiative, Referendum and Recall are three separate facets of direct democracy reserved for exclusive use by local voters that provide direct remedies in unusual situations.  4. Counties must deal with increasingly complex issues and require flexibility in addressing those issues. The Home Rule Charter provides the flexibility to address the complexity of local government such as hiring a County Manager to manage the day-to-day operations of the County. Measure 10-159 outlines the qualifications and expectations of a County Manager. A County Manager is an at-will employee hired by the elected Board of Commissioners and is accountable to the Commissioners and the citizens of the County. Nine counties in Oregon have developed Charters specific to the needs of its citizens. 5. Once a Charter is adopted, the citizens retain control over the Charter through the amendment process. This insures the citizens are always able to determine the form, power and authority of their County government. 
  • What are some typical matters included in a Home Rule Charter?  The Charter may establish various rights, responsibilities and privileges for the County government and its citizens that are not superseded by State or Federal laws. To list just a few:  · Number of Commissioners, their terms and how they are elected;   · Duties and Responsibilities of Commissioners · Salaries and Stipends · County Manager qualifications · Term limits and Ethics  · Control over matters of County Concern · Districts and District Boundaries & Budgets  


  • Replaces $121,000 + salary and benefit package for each Commissioner with $500 a month stipend
  • Increases size of Commission from three to five elected by District giving rural voters a voice
  • Creates a County Manager position with expertise and experience to run day-to-day operations. 
  • Commissioner authority remains unchanged
  • Commissioners can have as many meetings as they want per month
  • Sheriff's authority is unaffected
  • Commissioners can only enact local ordinances - they have no authority to change or amend State or Federal laws
  • County is subject to State budget laws
  • O & C lands are not affected by Charter



SAY YES  to transparency

SAY YES to an experienced, skilled public administrator running your government's day to day operations instead of someone whose only qualification is they can win an election.

Commissioners appoint the Manager

SAY YES to Public Safety

SAY YES to fiscal accountability

SAY YES to accountability to the people

SAY YES to the truth not the opposition's lies

What the Charter won't do is:

Cost more $$$ - it saves money.

Affect the elected Sheriff.

Lessen influence by elected officials.



Contact Us

Drop us a line!

Douglas County Home Rule Charter

Email us at: