Katie Nesbitt

ENTERPRISE — The county commissioner candidates and local ballot measures were at the forefront of the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum April 25 in Enterprise.

The forum, held at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds’ Cloverleaf Hall, was an opportunity for members of the community to get up close and personal with Wallowa County Commissioner candidates Bruce Dunn and Diane Daggett.

Dunn said his experience as a professional forester plus 12 years on the county’s planning commission and 22 years on its Natural Resource Advisory Committee qualify him for the job, but his vision extends beyond natural resources.

“We can’t forget our natural resource base of range and forest land, hunting and fishing, but we need to work together as a county on some (other) things,” he said.

With an eye to social and economic concerns, Dunn said affordable daycare for working families is crucial to the overall well-being of the county.

“Paying $6.50 an hour a minimum for day care, that’s really tough for working people,” Dunn said.

Daggett, a Realtor with a background in natural resources and county government, said while campaigning she has been hearing that most of the county’s citizens are concerned about protecting the rural lifestyle and access to public land.

“We need to protect our water — it’s our lifeblood,” she added.

Daggett said the county’s elderly have expressed a need for additional housing options that will allow them to stay in the county as they age. She also said she supports the county’s existing services.

“I want our libraries and roads to be funded and cared for,” Daggett said.

As part of the forum, Jessie Cunningham, Chamber of Commerce president, asked Dunn and Daggett how they would keep in contact with their constituents.

“We need to do a better job of notifying people of decision making,” Daggett said.

She suggested using social media, local newspapers, radio and the Internet to better reach the county’s residents. Dunn said he’s readily available via three email addresses and three phone numbers.

Both candidates said they think speaking directly with people works best. Daggett said she preferred to talk to people around their coffee tables, and Dunn said holding public meetings in the evenings and on Saturdays might help get more public input from those who can’t leave work for meetings scheduled during the day.

See complete story in Friday's Observer