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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Republican announces bid for commissioner seat

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Republican announces bid for commissioner seat

ENTERPRISE — Marc Stauffer has announced his run for Wallowa County commissioner and will be gearing up for the Republican primaries in May.

“I think I have something to offer the folks of Wallowa County,” Stauffer said. “I have the skill set and experience that would serve the county well.”

The son of an agriculture teacher in rural Central Point, Stauffer has spent most of his life in Oregon’s small towns. He met his wife, Teena, at Oregon State University and shortly after marrying they started Stauffer’s Refinishing. The couple repairs and makes custom furniture.

Stauffer and his family spent 16 years in Elgin before coming to Wallowa County, where he has served on city councils and the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority board, a position he still holds. The seat on the railroad board is indicative of his main focus in public service — economic development.

“While on the Elgin City Council we identified at a goal-setting meeting that the railroad is an important asset to the community and had economic development potential,” Stauffer said.

Chamber president

Now in his 10th year in the county, he is serving a second year as chamber president, where he has produced radio ads not only for Enterprise’s own KWVR, but for a regional outdoor radio show heard throughout the Northwest and Canada promoting Wallowa County tourism.

“Tourism is one of the legs of our economy, and small business is another,” he said. “The chamber supports both of those, and advertising reaches out to bring in tourism. We aim to create an environment in which
our tourism members can succeed.”

He said government’s role should be the same as the chamber’s — creating an environment for small businesses to succeed and for people to pursue their dreams, but not stand in the way.

Stauffer said a way he believes government can assist small business is how Elgin created an industrial park and offered land at reduced cost for business owners. If a business qualified for a grant, hired employees and kept them for five years, the city would reduce the amount they owed. If they hired enough employees and had a successful business, they wouldn’t have to pay for the land. If the business didn’t succeed, the land reverted back to city and it would be offered up for another business’s use.

He sees the City of Wallowa as the perfect industrial center for Wallowa County, with an industrial park and the Integrated Biomass Resources mill already in place. 

As for the county’s vast natural resources and public land base, Stauffer said, “It’s going to take a lot of work to open up our forests to be managed, but not pillaged. There’s a balance that needs to be struck there.”

For the last couple years both Wallowa County and the City of Enterprise, for which Stauffer serves on the city’s planning commission, have faced Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations that may affect future building and possibly existing structures to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

“We’re going to have to stand up and say, ‘Time out,’” Stauffer said. “It could ruin a lot of the economy to do an Endangered Species study before you can develop your land. That’s overreaching government.”

Urban-rural divide

As one who has chosen to live in rural Oregon most of his life, yet has also made the choice to get involved in statewide politics, Stauffer said he is keenly aware of the state’s widening urban/rural divide.

“Education that needs to happen; unfortunately that falls squarely on the shoulders of rural Oregon,” he said. “We need to reeducate the metro areas about rural areas and their value systems — the way we perceive the world around us is different. Can we come together? You bet. We are all Oregonians and citizens of the U.S.

“The folks that have come here and spent some time suddenly realize that we care about our environment and are educated,” Stauffer said. “Part of being a county commissioner is when you find that disparity, you invite them to come here and show them what rural is all about.”

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