Vote McClure / Split decision

By Observer editorial October 25, 2010 01:30 pm
In the county commissioner’s race between Steve McClure and Michael O’Connor, there is but one sensible choice for voters to make. And that choice is Steve McClure.

O’Connor, a Union resident, opposes construction of the Antelope Ridge Wind Farm near his city and that’s the primary reason he’s running for county office. Even if Union County had control over approval of the Antelope Ridge siting application — which it does not — we would say it’s not a good enough reason.

It takes a lot more than an aversion to wind towers to make a good county commissioner. It takes someone with experience and wisdom. It takes someone who knows how to balance budgets, identify and win grants, and negotiate contracts. Above all, it takes someone with a broad view of the community’s needs.

We don’t say McClure, a 20-year incumbent, is right every time he casts a vote, but we do believe he’s right most of the time. We also believe that at all times, he has voted with the county’s best interest at heart.

Working for a rural and often cash-strapped community, McClure has helped build infrastructure, has championed economic development, has represented the county well in natural resource issues.

Along the way, he has cultivated partnerships with state and federal agencies that have resulted in tangible, visible improvements in the county. His working relationships with the Oregon Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Forest Service alone are worth their weight in gold.

O’Connor, on the other hand, is a self-employed journalist, videographer and teacher with a pet issue on his mind and zero experience in elective office.

Sensible people will respect his right to his opinions, but they will also realize he is a poor trade for the man who has worked so diligently for so long to make Union County a great place to live.

Vote for Steve McClure Nov. 2.

Split decision

Deciding who to vote for in the three-way race between Chris Taylor, Jim Mollerstrom and Bill Rosholt for County Commissioner Position 1 is both easy and hard.

It’s easy enough to tell that Taylor, the Democrat in the race, isn’t right for the job. For one thing, he has little or no experience in government. For another, he has sent a mixed message on economic development.

 The owner of a La Grande janitorial service, Taylor claims on one hand he will bring a “businessman’s perspective” to the county board. On the other, he says he’s opposed to tax credits for the Antelope Ridge wind farm.

Without the credits, the wind farm would not be built. Taylor’s perspective seems a little skewered, since many local business people say their chances of survival the next couple of years hinge on Antelope Ridge.

 So that leaves us with Mollerstrom or Rosholt. The problem here is that both have a lot to offer. The choice is difficult.

Mollerstrom, an Independent candidate who earns his living in the mental health field, owns a long and impressive resume of community involvements, including service on the La Grande School District budget committee, and as La Grande’s representative on the Union County Economic Development Corp. board.

He is a highly visible presence at public events of all sorts, including county board and city council meetings. He makes it a point to talk to people with many different viewpoints, and he listens well. He researches issues deeply.

Rosholt, a Republican and Union County’s director of golf promotions and economic development, seemed in the early going like a tentative candidate lacking in self-confidence. Lately, though, he has found a voice.

In candidate forums, he has given clear opinions on issues such as private property rights, job creation and natural resource use. His recent statement that he is excited by the thought of the jobs that would be created by Antelope Ridge was refreshing in its honesty.

The Observer’s four-person editorial board discussed endorsement of Mollerstrom or Rosholt extensively, but was unable to reach consensus. The vote kept coming up 2-2.

We are confident of one thing, however. Either man would serve the county well.