The newest member of the Benton County Board of Commissioners will chair the body in 2018.

Following a pattern of rotating the office of chair, Xan Augerot was elected to lead the three-member board by her fellow commissioners Tuesday in their first meeting of the new year.

She takes the gavel from Anne Schuster, who held the post in 2017 and has announced plans to retire when her term ends at the close of this year. Annabelle Jaramillo will serve as vice chair, running board meetings when Augerot is not present.

After Tuesday's meeting, Augerot said her main focus for 2018 will be a study of the county’s criminal justice system, courthouse and jail.

County officials are in the final stages of negotiating a contract with CGL, a Miami-based consulting group, to conduct the analysis and facilities needs assessment. The board is expected to vote on the deal at its Jan. 16 meeting.

“I anticipate it’s going to be a busy year,” Augerot said.

This will be the first time chairing the board for Augerot, who is midway through her first four-year term.

The former executive director of the Marys River Watershed Council scored a political upset in the 2016 Democratic primary when she unseated incumbent Jay Dixon, a veteran commissioner who was running for a fifth term on the board, then defeated the Republican and Pacific Green candidates in the general election.

Reporter Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.

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Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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