Josephine County Commissioner Harold Haugen enriched his county, his state, and the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) with his dedication and vision.

Harold first ran for a seat on Josephine County Commission in 1980. He served until 1988 and lost the general election in November of that year. He ran again in 1990, and took office in 1991, serving three more terms before leaving office at the end of 2004. Harold was appointed in 2012 to serve the final year in the term of a recalled Commissioner.  Twenty-three years in service to Oregon’s counties is a tremendous accomplishment!

Those were years of great change in southwest Oregon, and Harold was not one to shy from a challenge.  He spent many years working on federal lands issues both within the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and the Association of O&C Counties (AOCC). This was the era where the listing of the spotted owl served to remove most of the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands from the harvest base. The economies and social stability of timber counties crashed as county revenue and timber jobs disappeared.

Harold brought the message to the service businesses that depended on the family wage jobs in the timber industry for their customer base. He worked tirelessly within AOC and AOCC to spread the message in rural Oregon of the social and economic jeopardy created by loss of jobs in the woods and the mills.

Land use planning was in its infancy and local control over property issues was important to Harold and his constituents. In the late ‘80’s, he formed a group called the Oregon Counties Land Use Coalition to examine the limitations of Oregon’s land use planning system, especially the need to recognize regional differences.  He brought this issue to the forefront as he served as Chair of AOC’s District 4 Region, serving Josephine, Jackson, Douglas, Coos, and Curry counties.  

During the late ‘90’s, he was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission and became chair of that Commission during his second term.

Harold had a long and active involvement in AOC. He served as President of the organization in 2000 and left his mark on AOC. Harold was one of the first elected officials to recognize the strategic importance of coordinating diverse services to achieve specific goals. For example, in his criminal justice work he advocated for coordinating services between public safety, the courts, health and welfare, education and employment to create a pathway out of crime. Harold also tirelessly advocated for better working relationships between all levels of government, and the willingness to innovate and experiment. These have become operative principles within AOC, and we owe that to Harold’s vision. 

As we look back over these 23 years of public service, AOC is proud and humbled by the contribution of this remarkable county commissioner.

Contributed by: Susan Morgan | Legislative Affairs Manager