Now it's three for Crook County Judge
- Shelby Case
- Central Oregonian - Sports
The race for Crook County judge has become a tad more crowded, with the filing on March 11 of Powell Butte resident Walt Wagner.
>Walt Wagner will challenge Mike McCabe on teh Republican ticket
Wagner said he filed about an hour before the March 11 deadline.
Wagner outlined his political views and his background.
"I view the office as a real challenge, and an opportunity to put my skills to work for the good of Crook County in the tough times that appear to be ahead," he said.
The candidate pointed to his years in the Oregon State Police from 1964 to 1992, including gaining experience in public speaking, auditing and at resolving issues.
"I dealt with all sorts of issues and we had to find all kinds of resolutions," he said.
"And I think I've got the time and the dedication to devote to carry out the duties...." he said, adding that he is retired. "I have nothing else to focus on. My time will be the county's time, fortunately. And I think that's a good thing."
He also has experience working on audits in the OSP. He emphasized that he doesn't think Crook County is wasting money, but that the county needs "to take a good, hard look at where the money's going and create priorities."
Land use is another of the issues Wagner believes is facing the county.
"How can you have goals in land use? Measure 37 came out. It was easier for people n some areas and created issues in other areas," he said. Voters then passed Measure 49, which revised the previous measure and now Wagner said the state's Big Look Committee is in place to further address land use laws.
"So land use laws are constantly changing," he said.
He also pointed to destination resorts, which are one of the land use issues and topics facing Crook County, saying there are positives and negatives to resorts.
"So basically they are tough decisions that have to be made basically on each individual case," he said, referring to land use in general.
Wagner also said it's important for the court to get out into the county and talk with residents.
"You have to take one day a week and get yourself out of the office and into the county," he said, "instead of requiring everybody to come into some little meeting."
Wagner has received phone calls from farmers and ranchers who are concerned about road usage and trespassing. He said this is something they should call the OSP or sheriff's office with, "and I'm sure they have." He said land use is also of concern to the farmers and ranchers and he said that on the court, "you've got to take time to immerse yourself in these laws."
"(Scott) Cooper - I think has done a relatively good job when it comes to the finances and keeping an eye on things," the candidate said. "I don't always agree with him, but overall I think he's done a good job."
Wagner said that until the economy gets back on its feet, it might be a good idea to reduce some of the construction fees for companies. He said this would not only help construction firms, but also real estate in the area.
"These are two areas that are strengths for the county - construction and real estate. They have been anyway," Wagner said.
In Wagner's opinion, the county is operating on a surplus because of construction and real estate sales, and "I believe it's temporary."
"I don't believe it's a short-term downfall," he said, adding that already diesel is costing $4 a gallon in the Willamette Valley and unleaded gasoline in Prineville is about $3.50 per gallon.
The candidate has a variety of experience, including governmental and volunteer work.
Also, Wagner was a hay farmer and raised sheep, llamas, and horses from 1988 to 2004 in Polk County.
The candidate was chairman of the Powell Butte Farmers Community Club in 2005 and volunteered as budget committee chairman of the Polk County SW Fire District in 1992, He also helped raise $70,000 toward completing the Powell Butte Community Center.
"When I take on something, I am focused," the candidate for judge said.
He served on the Governor's Employee Committee as vice-chairman in 1991, and was appointed by Gov. Vic Atiyeh to the Council on Health, Fitness and Sports, serving there from 1985-1988. Wagner also volunteered on the Department of Education Drug and Alcohol Advisory Committee from 1987 to 1988. Additionally, he served as chairman of the first State Games of Oregon, which is similar to the Olympics, covering all counties in the state.
But perhaps the volunteer experience he is most proud of was when he helped the Sunshine Foundation, which took handicapped children to Disneyland. He and others had to carry the children around the park, but he found the experience from the late 1970s/early 1980s quite rewarding.
Wagner was born in Portland and graduated from Clackamas High School in 1960. He attended Clackamas Community College through the G.I. Bill of Rights and had 89 undergraduate credit hours, studying psychology and anthropology.
Wagner said when he retired from the OSP, there "were no state troopers. So I did not retire as a state trooper. I retired as a state police administrator." He is currently a lieutenant in the Oregon State Police Reserves.
"The state police never called their police state troopers," he said, adding that the term "trooper" did not appear on police vehicles until a few years ago. "They were just always known as state police."