Election 2018 five vie for county commissioner – local news –

Editor’s note: This link contains all five articles about each of the candidates for Grant County commissioner in alphabetical order. Links to the individual articles are also available at the end. Candidate Dave Rose withdrew from the election.

Commissioner candidate Richie Colbeth, 79, John Day, grew up in New Jersey and retired from the Air Force as a non-commissioned officer in charge of administration and personal affairs after 20 years in the service. He’s worked as a school bus trainer, a union representative, an airport security screener and a paralegal.

He’s served on numerous boards and committees, including the John Day Budget Committee, Republican Precinct Committee, Senior Citizen Advisory Board and a local ministerial association.

He’s volunteered at the Grant County Historical Museum, the Grant County Ranch and Rodeo Museum, Grant County Hospice and the Grant County Chamber of Commerce.

He was elected freshman and sophomore class presidents and is the current vice president of the high school’s Associate Student Body. He is a 4-H county ambassador and member of the Future Business Leaders of America program. He has worked in lawn maintenance and as a lifeguard.

Elliott said he opposes a government-owned broadband network because it will lead to higher prices and poorer service. He cited similar networks that failed in Burlington, Vermont, and Provo, Utah. Private companies should provide broadband, if at all, he said.

Elliott said he’d prefer to keep 911 dispatch local, but if the county can’t afford to do that, then it should accept the offer from Frontier Regional 911 for contracted services. He also said he’d like to see the county’s natural resource adviser position filled.

Elliott’s vision for the county is to bring back another timber mill, which would lead to bigger schools, more jobs and more competition between existing businesses. He said he supports the Initiative 12-71 to legalize recreational marijuana in Grant County because it will create jobs and provide tax revenue to the local community.

Larson supports the county court’s decision to join the Grant County Digital Network Coalition, which is one piece in a larger solution to an ailing economy. As for the government’s role in the broadband project, he compared it to the Pony Express, interstate highways and rural electrification.

Larson sees merit in creating a natural resource adviser position with the county, comparing it to the county court providing funding for a federal animal damage control agent. He said it’s critical the adviser does not make policy or speak for the court, but he saw benefits coming from a well-trained and well-educated person in the position.

Larson said he’d like to see the local economy restored to its 1950 level, with more than 8,000 residents and a diversified economy that was more resistant to downturns. He wants to explore the options, including providing broadband to attract telecommuters.

Commissioner candidate Archie Osburn, 61, Monument, has been working on his family’s ranch for most of his life. He graduated from Monument High School with honors and attended Blue Mountain Community College for a time before returning to the ranch.

He was elected and served for several terms on the boards for Monument School and the Monument Soil and Water Conservation District. He’s also served on the Farm Service Agency since the 1980s, which handles disaster relief funds for fires and floods, and loans for conservation projects, student education and 4-H projects.

He strongly opposes the creation of a natural resource adviser position for the county. He said he leases large tracts of land in two counties from the Bureau of Land Management, and he didn’t want anyone interfering in his relationship with the agency.

Palmer sees three main issues facing Grant County — a lack of jobs, a high suicide rate and a high child abuse rate. They’re interrelated, he said, noting that Grant County and Harney County have been No. 1 or No. 2 in unemployment among Oregon counties for 35 to 40 years.

Palmer said he favors keeping 911 dispatch local in order to protect jobs, but as a team leader on the county’s Search and Rescue team with extensive experience in the forests, he doesn’t believe the argument that local dispatchers are needed to help first responders locate incident sites.

Palmer strongly supports the idea of establishing a natural resource adviser position with the county. He said it’s not a question of whether to establish the position but how to fund it. The adviser would help bridge the gap between county, state and federal governments, he said.

Palmer’s vision for the economy is growth. Burning down forests and locking up forest roads will not lead to prosperity, he said. Instead, he’d like to see biomass-powered generating plants in Long Creek, the John Day Valley and around Seneca to power new industry.