Home News Local News Four vie for commission's two open seats
Four vie for commission's two open seats
ENTERPRISE — Mail-in ballots for the primary election were sent out from the county clerk’s office Friday. They must be returned to that office by 8 p.m. May 20.
There are only two contested races in Wallowa County in the May 20 primary. They are for two of the three seats on the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners.
The primary contest pits two Republicans competing for the nomination for Position 1 and two Democrats competing for nomination for Position 2.
For Position 1 (chairman), Republican incumbent Mike Hayward of Joseph is running against Republican Ben Boswell of Lostine. Boswell currently holds the Position 2 seat, but decided to run for the chairman’s position.
Democrats Jan Baker and Jean M. Grandi, both of Enterprise, are facing each other for Position 2.
The candidates were asked to comment on why they thought they should be elected, what they would do to overcome the loss of timber payments that help fund the county road department and what their three top priorities are.
Boswell is 63, has two children and has lived in Wallowa County 45 years.
He graduated from Joseph High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in general science from the University of Oregon. His fifth-year work was done at Eastern Oregon University in science education.
Since most decisions that affect the county are made outside of the county, Boswell thinks that a great asset of his is the relationships that he has formed which give him connections to people in other local governments, state government, and regional and national organizations.
Boswell is also committed to keeping in touch with local citizens and developing new and better ways to communicate with them, he said.
One thing he did was to design the county budget in a narrative magazine form that explains the budget rather than just list numbers, he said.
Boswell has an agenda to involve citizens in government (to make them part of the decision-making), develop better ways to keep the public informed and provide stable funding for the county (including roads), he said.
He intends to have community meetings in different places at different times to provide more access for more people, he said.
In order to pursue that agenda, he said he needs the full-time position of chairman so that he does not have to spend time away from his office supplementing his income, as he now does.
Boswell emphasized his “experienced leadership.’’
Boswell has served in leadership positions over the years, served in numerous organizations that provide community service (several as the presiding officer), and received several awards for his accomplishments.
Boswell has served more than 15 years on the board of commissioners with two terms as judge/chairman. “So, I know how to do the job,” he said. He was also a Joseph city councilor.
Boswell, who has Parkinson’s Disease, assures electors that his health should be good enough to serve out the term of the office.
Hayward is 53, has two children and has lived in Wallowa County 27 years.
He graduated from Pullman High School in Pullman, Wash., and holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry management from Washington State University, he said.
He has been the chairman of the board of commissioners the past seven years, was a county commissioner four years, a county planning commissioner five years and was a Joseph city councilor two years, he said.
He chaired the Joseph Chamber of Commerce and was president of the Wallowa Lake Tourist Committee, he said.
Hayward has been a member of several boards, some of which he chaired. He also served as the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce manager, he said.
Part of the challenge of the chairman’s job is switching from one issue to another. “I think that I have the ability to do that,” he said.
“Wallowa County stands to lose about $900,000 in federal timber payments,” he said. He thinks the state will cover some of it.
The federal safety net loss will eventually affect all counties and the state too, he said.
“We must look for solutions in places that we have not looked before,” Hayward said.
The county must continue to work with other counties for solutions and look at every opportunity to save costs, to do things economically and in a prudent manner, he said.
The county also needs to look at opportunities to generate revenue, to become more entrepreneurial in areas where the private sector is not engaged. That might be something in the energy field, like biomass, he said.
Hayward doesn’t advocate raising taxes, he said.
Hayward’s top three priorities include maintaining the road department and working with federal land managers on issues such as the Travel Management Plan. With 60 percent of the land base in the county managed by the federal government, the Forest Service is a significant player and always will be, he said.
Also, efforts must be made to continue to grow the economy in a fashion acceptable to expectations of the quality of life enjoyed here. So it’s important to facilitate development in concert with the wishes of the people, he said.
Jan Baker is 63, has two children and has lived in Wallowa County 14 years. She said that during her time away, she did things that provided valuable experience that would apply to the commissioner’s role here.
Baker worked in economic development in North County San Diego, wrote grants in southern Missouri and was in program development for the U.S. Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton.
While here she was the Wallowa County juvenile director. There she administered a budget.
Baker has written grants for several cities and programs for Wallowa County and has served on many commissions in three states, she said.
Some of the grants were to provide jobs and start-up grants for small businesses in California and southern Missouri, she said.
She has also worked with many social service agencies, she said.
Baker’s education was at Temple City High School, Temple City, Calif., and Pasadena College in Pasadena, Calif.
Baker said that she knows and understands the needs of our small rural community and thinks that she will bring experience and new ideas to the board.
Baker does not favor increasing taxes to fund the road department. “People are being taxed to death,” she said.
Wages have not changed with the increasing costs such as housing (including rent), she said.
And an impending road problem is just part of a bigger problem — the economy slowing down, she said.
One possible funding source might be to look for grants through the U.S.D.A., she said.
Her other priorities would include economic development with tax incentives to encourage small businesses and family wage jobs, and affordable housing. Training for people such as displaced timber workers could be a key component to the latter, she said.
New business examples might include transcribing for OHSU or having telephone services here rather than India for such companies as Dell.
In one project in Missouri, hog waste became humus and the methane gas heated homes and provided electricity.
Grandi is 65, has two children and has lived in the county 5 1/2 years.
Grandi graduated from Barstow Union High School in Barstow, Calif., and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Davis School of Agriculture; a bachelor’s from California State University-Sacramento in science, nursing and public health; and a master’s from the University of Phoenix in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner.
Grandi said that she can bring a fresh set of eyes to the board.
She worked as a consultant to long-term care providers in assisting them to interpret regulations and come into compliance with legal requirements.
Grandi also trained evaluators and supervisors in department policy and standards.
In community health she was responsible for managing a state and federally funded program, which required administering a budget and accumulating data and reporting to state managers.
She volunteered in the community even when her children were growing up, she said.
In Wallowa County she served on the Enterprise City Council and has volunteered in several community service activities.
Grandi completed the Ford Leadership Program, which installed new signs around the county fairgrounds, she said.
Grandi believes that the timber payments are a thing of the past and cannot be relied upon for the road department.
On the commission she would work to encourage agriculture and small business, she said.
Economic Action Teams are developing such things as the county brand. This is to market local people’s products, she said.
Grandi thinks that a local brand could capitalize on people’s growing concerns about safety in the food supply.
The idea is to think small versus huge; for instance, offering people Imnaha apples instead of produce from Chile, she said.
In the process, our community could become more self sufficient and sustaining, she said.
She also thinks that more could be done to encourage people to vacation here. One idea is to organize volunteers to maintain hiking and horse trails.
Her priorities include keeping the roads up, maintaining and improving our infrastructure and advertising the county’s emergency plan so that everyone can know what the contingencies are in case of something like a catastrophic wildfire or the old dam at the lake failing.