Commissions or councils govern most counties, and voters directly elect the officials -- auditor, clerk, collector, etc. -- who oversee the various departments.
But Jackson County voters adopted a Charter in 1970 that created a new form of County government, one featuring three distinctive branches: the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. Appointed directors lead the various administrative departments - Assessment, Collections, Recorder of Deeds, etc. Jackson County's elected officials include one County Executive, nine County Legislators, the County Prosecutor and the County Sheriff. (Voters approved a revised Charter in August of 2010 to provide updates that included the County Ethics Code (PDF).)
Three Legislators are elected from larger at-large districts, while six are elected to represent smaller districts. The Legislative branch's duties include introducing and enacting all County ordinances and resolutions, subject to the approval of the County Executive.
The County Executive acts as Jackson County's chief administrative officer. Elected by a County-wide vote, the Executive serves four-year terms and appoints the directors of the County's departments, excluding the County Auditor and County Clerk. As part of Jackson County's system of checks and balances, the Legislature appoints both the Clerk and Auditor.