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The rundown: County commissioner hopefuls weigh in

Ballots for the May 17 primary were mailed Wednesday, April 27. Here is a rundown of candidates running for seats on the Columbia County Board of Commissioners, and where they stand on select issues.


¦ Susan Conn CONN

On industry and future growth: “I believe we need to offer our residents, particularly our youth, a career path here in Columbia County,” Conn said, emphasizing quality of life for residents. “I think we need to put more effort into supporting our small and medium size businesses,” she said, citing niche farming and smaller agriculture outfits as potential area for business growth.

On homelessness: Conn said local agencies and nonprofits need to work together to find solutions. “Saying you can’t camp here and not providing something else for them doesn’t solve the problem. I think we need to start looking at what other communities are doing to try to solve the problem.”

On Columbia County Jail: “It’s necessary to maintain public safety.”

On CC Rider: “I approve of the special district. I think Columbia County citizens need to invest in a transit district. We are growing rapidly. It’s part of our infrastructure.”

Campaign contributions so far: $1,990

¦ Margaret Magruder MAGRUDER

On industry and future growth: “I think that development of Port Westward is not our only source. We have some wonderful resources.” Magruder, a farmer, says there is potential for existing and new agricultural ventures in Columbia County. The candidate said her goal is to “maintain core services without raising taxes ... We’re going to have to look at some water storage issues. We’re gonna have to plan growth around some areas where the aquifers are adequate. The availability of potable water will have to be considered in all growth discussions.”

On homelessness: “One of the ways that you fund big projects like that, is partnerships. Having all of the cities, all of the government entities on the same page, that way, you have a group that has some power.”

On marijuana: “The voters of Oregon have approved it as legal. It is an agricultural crop ... It’s a real difficult problem to have something that’s legal in your state and not legal elsewhere. I’m not sure that the county has made any serious mistakes, but we need to look at all the different aspects of growing. It’s a big issue that needs to be thoughtfully planned out.” Cannabis could be an area for agricultural growth in the county, she said.

Campaign contributions so far: $11,495 (includes $2,100 in out of state contributions.)

¦ Wayne Mayo MAYO

On industry and future growth: Mayo cites livability and local contracting as top priorities. “I’m hoping we can encourage our young people to look to higher education as their future. There are not going to be a huge amount of family wage mill jobs in Columbia County. We’ve got to steer people to better paying jobs than just what is going to be left. We’ve got a lot to offer people who want to commute. It is a good commute.” Mayo said Cornelius Pass Road must be fixed and made safer.

On Columbia County Jail: “We absolutely need another jail levy. In the future, we need to look at other options. I believe there are more options than property taxes.” Mayo said the rate the local jail pays for federal prisoners is “not a negotiable number,” rather, it’s based on the jail’s real operating costs. “They will not pay us above a certain amount, if the value isn’t there.”

On homelessness: “A lot of guys in there want to be homeless ... There’s trash everywhere. It really is a reflection of some kind of mental illness. We’ve got people coming out here that [are told to come here from Portland.] “I don’t think we need to apologize for running these guys back to Portland.”

On funding mechanisms for services like roads, Columbia County Jail, CC Rider: Mayo says the depletion fee should be reevaluated. “There is a tremendous amount of gravel coming out of Columbia County every day.”

Campaign contributions so far: None listed for 2016

¦ Brady Preheim PREHEIM

On industry and future growth: “I think we have to pick industries that are compatible with our lifestyle...” Preheim said, adding good job development is the result of thoughtful planning and recruitment, not accepting whatever industry shows interest in the county. Preheim is opposed to management at Port of St. Helens, as well as oil train operations.

On smaller businesses: Preheim says smaller businesses should be able to get assistance, in the way of small loans, if industrial entities at Port Westward are going to be given millions in subsidies and tax breaks.

On Columbia County Jail: Preheim criticized the facility, saying it “was built too big,” and advocated charging more for holding federal prisoners.

On CC Rider: “I support CC Rider. I don’t support the levy.” Preheim said the transit agency has been dishonest this election cycle, saying a property tax levy would help fund bus services for seniors and veterans.

Campaign finances: Unavailable on Secretary of State’s website as of presstime

¦ Joel Yarbor YARBOR

On industry and future growth: “I think every industry that’s here, we should be supporting them.” Yarbor said working with the Port of St. Helens, and making more land available for companies to buy rather than lease, will help create local jobs, which could in-turn alleviate heavy highway traffic and high commuter rates.“When you try to stop growth, you don’t get good planning, you get piecemeal things.”

On Columbia County Jail: “I think it was built for the future,” Yarbor said. “It wasn’t built too big. You always wanna build a little bit bigger so it lasts longer.” Yarbor said county jail should consider charging cities a fee for housing their inmates, as other counties in Oregon do.

On marijuana: “I feel the commissioners let us down as property owners out here. ...It’s a drug. It’s not a crop. Basically, what they did was put everybody in a rural area at risk.”

Campaign contributions so far: $7,050 (includes personal loan to himself for $2,000.)


¦ Tony Hyde HYDE

On industry and future growth: “The timber industry’s not gone ... You can’t ignore that we have over a million and a half acres of managed forest.” He touted more than $28 million brought in to Columbia County from timber harvests and Secure Rural Schools funding. “We cannot continue to be just a great place to live, we have to be a great place to work.” Hyde listed roughly 10 companies, including Pacific Stainless and Rightline Equipment, which have thrived in Columbia County.

On marijuana: “We can’t exercise the option to tax pot, and we’ve looked at it. The real net effects of that tax would be minimal because we’re a county, not a city.” “I don’t think it’s gonna be enough of a factor to say this is gonna be our saving grace.”

On Columbia County Jail: “The solution for the jail funding is a bigger general fund ... “We’re not gonna tax our way out of this. We’re gonna have to build our way out of this.”

On depletion fee increase as a funding mechanism for CC Rider: “I don’t support it. I’ve said that before. We wanted to change the ordinance 20 years ago, but it wasn’t to pay for transit, it was just to increase it.”

Campaign contributions so far: $5,650

¦ Alex Tardif TARDIF

On industry and future growth: “Port Westward, to me, it is a jewel,” Tardif said. “It is a special, unique maritime port that not many people have access to. We need to utilize it. I don’t believe fossil fuels are the way to utilize it.” “We need to be forward thinking and we need to stop looking at the past for answers to our future.” Tardif said timber is not a viable revenue option for Columbia County, considering federal restrictions on timberlands. The candidate suggested leaders should look to recruit more high tech jobs and sustainable industries to Columbia County.

On marijuana: “Whether I agree with it or not, it was voted for, it was passed, and the majority has said this is what we want. I think we need to not be so short-sighted. There is a lot of money to be made in this industry ... We are perfectly situated to pioneer an entirely new industry in Oregon.”

On Columbia County Jail: “When we built the jail, we failed to do a financial analysis of its viability. The community, as a whole, is tired of special tax districts ... It all comes back to that. We need to be self-sufficient and we need to start generating that tax base through economic development that we lack.”

On parks and recreation: “Our parks are really what we really need to focus on.”

On depletion fee: “I don’t support it in the fact that it’s for transit. lt shouldn’t be for the bus system, it should be for the roads system.”

Campaign contributions so far: $2,288.50