Matt Scarfo wanted to run for the Union County Board of Commissioners in 2016. But family considerations prompted him to put those plans on hold.
“I was going to file the last election, but my wife and I had a baby,” he said.
Those plans are now back in play. Scarfo is the latest to throw his hat in the ring, filing to run for county commissioner in May 2018.
Scarfo, 42, has lived in La Grande since September 1995. He said he’s been around for a while now, and feels he was always headed toward this position.
He has served on the Union County Chamber of Commerce Board and La Grande Main Street Downtown Board, but he wanted to focus on his family and stepped down from these positions.
“There was a big burst of people who wanted me to run (in 2016), but my wife had zero percent chance of having children, and (my son) was a miracle baby,” he said. But now, “This is as good a time as ever.”
Scarfo said he recently heard Commissioners Steve McClure and Jack Howard, who will be stepping down from their positions at the beginning of 2019, say a commissioner needs to be a people person for this job.
“I’ve been a good people person my whole life,” Scarfo said. “I’ve been in the service industry since I was 16 years old.”
He also heard it’s important to have a younger representative on the commission. At 42, Scarfo would have a fresh perspective.
He believes his youth and energy will benefit him in the position, and the fact that he has been a part of “many 501(c)(3) organizations in the county.”
Scarfo served on the Chamber board for a total of seven years, but not consecutively.
His time with LGMSD was toward the beginning when it was created. He said he knew some people on the board, and because he owned a couple of businesses — Benchwarmer’s Pub & Grill and The Longbranch Bar & Eats — in the downtown area, he jumped at the chance to participate.
He was the president of that board for two years, and then was asked to serve as the Union County Chamber’s president.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do both roles at the same time,” he said.
Scarfo said although he has no political background to speak of, he wants to represent his community. He has served on numerous Eastern Oregon University committees in the past and on the La Grande Country Club board.
“I’m not running for student body president where I promise to extend recess hours and get soda for free,” he said. “I’m not saving up good deeds to get elected. I’m looking to just help out the best that I can.”
He said he would have McClure on speed dial if he was elected, so he could hit the ground running.
“The county has been here for much longer than I have,” he said. “I’m the spokesperson for the county. I can’t wait for the next eight years to do the best that I can. I won’t do just one term.”
So far, Scarfo is the third person to file for the two empty commissioner seats. John Lackey and Colleen MacLeod are also running.