Harney County Judge Steve Grasty is fighting a recall effort against him. Grasty was among the fiercest opponents of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County.  

His critics collected more than the 444 signatures to put a recall on the county ballot.

Petitioners argued Grasty and other officials in Harney County were hindering the rights of citizens.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty at a community meeting in Burns on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty at a community meeting in Burns on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Amanda Peacher/OPB

“These privileges and rights include: the privilege of citizens’ use of public buildings for peaceful assembly, the right of the people (sic) peaceably to assemble, & the unabridged right of freedom of speech,” the petition reads.

Grasty could’ve resigned, but he said from the beginning that he would fight. The Oregon Secretary of State’s office made that official by releasing Grasty’s statement Tuesday of “Justification of Course in Office.”

Grasty writes: “The immediacy of these issues and others reinforces my determination and pledge to continue to work for all of Harney County as I finish out my elected term. I ask that you stand with me.”

Grasty would leave his post as the top county executive at the end of 2016, even without a recall. Grasty chafed at the cost of the June 28 recall vote in an interview with OPB last week.

“Spending $7,500 on this, at this late date in my term, I’m not sure is justified,” Grasty said. “But these folks determined they thought it was, so there we are.”

Harney County Elections officials will send voters the argument against Grasty – as well as Grasty’s statement in his defense.