Experience you know . . . .
I came to the job of Benton County Commissioner with a portfolio of relevant experience:
- 25 years of management and policy development experience
- Health policy development for the Oregon Health Plan and social services integration to better serve the client
- 6 plus years on the Benton County Budget Committee
Since then, I have broadened and deepened my experience by serving as your county commissioner for three terms. The job is necessarily complex and the issues many—all affect our quality of life in Benton County and the health and welfare of our most vulnerable residents.
Convenient movement of people and freight is a major requirement for livability in Benton County and for the region.
I serve on the Area Commission on Transportation (ACT), Corvallis Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the statewide consortium of MPOs (OMPOC), and the West Coast Corridor Coalition and other travel-related committees and organizations.
These entities have complementary but different roles. The roles include advisory to the Oregon Transportation Commission in prioritizing which highway projects are most important in Linn, Benton and Lincoln Counties as well as statewide freight issues. The MPO is responsible for transportation planning plus bridge, road and street projects on major routes in and around Corvallis, Adair Village and Philomath.
The majority of Oregon’s population lives in the OMPOC areas and experiences most of the commuter- and congestion-related problems.
The Coalition seeks funding commensurate with the function the West Coast serves as a conduit for freight to the rest of the nation. Interstate collaboration is encouraged to create freight movement efficiencies and best “green” practices to relieve the I-5 Corridor and West Coast freight congestion. The volume of freight is expected to increase as the freight
coming into the coastal ports more than doubles in the next few years.
We must have family wage jobs grown from a diversified economy. The jobs can result in stable, predictable funding for our schools, local infrastructure and services necessary for safe and healthy communities.
For several years I have served on the Business Enterprise Center (BEC) board and OSU Extension Citizens Advisory Network. I support the Enterprise Zone and its expansion as a modest tool to encourage new equipment purchases and new construction.
The BEC is working to “grow our own” businesses. It has a 20-year history of job creation resulting in 130 companies creating over 270 jobs.
The Extension Service works to bring research findings to farmers and timber growers which boost our local economy. They have a strong role in certification of Christmas trees and timber, work with vineyards, seed growers, livestock and small commercial farmers.
These organizations and incentive of the Enterprise Zone are all aimed at returning the jobs we have lost and diversification of the economy. Those approaches include working with partner counties to train the workforce that is critical to a healthy economy.
Clean Water and the Environment
Targeted investments must be made in water, transportation and economic development to ensure the livability of our communities.
For the past 2 years, I have focused on our water supply and quality. In 2008 we published Phase 1: Benton County Water Analysis and Demand Forecast. Phase1 focused on “evaluating the quality and quantity of water resources for all uses, needs and users of Benton County”. Phase 2 widens our scope of to include communities of interest that depend on or impact the Willamette River.
I recently served on the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Greenhouse Gas Emissions Taskforce. Work is to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions while also providing better transportation choices, lower transportation costs and a cleaner environment.
The County invests in 4-H programs such as Wildlife Stewards, improved fish passage, forest education, natural areas and parks, trails, collaborative habitat restoration with private landowners, and Kids Day for Conservation. We also engage in enhancing our landscape’s natural utility function in providing clean water.
Health and Social Services
Infrastructure is both hard (built) and soft (services). Economic health is a function of many elements but once we have family wage jobs and “hard” infrastructure such as sewer and water, we must also have the housing, care for the mentally ill and disabled, addiction treatment, good education system, and accessible and affordable health care.
Benton County has a Community Health Center with 4 locations. The centers provide primary care, pharmacy, mental health and addiction services on a sliding scale fee basis.
County staff delivers many state-funded services including public health, mental health, services for the developmentally disabled, environmental health, alcohol and drug treatment, and parole and probation.
This is a major responsibility of county government which includes juvenile services, prosecution, jail, patrol, parole & probation, and emergency management.
The levy passed by you, the voters, allowed continuation of services. At risk were those services funded by property taxes and forest dollars. As you know, the forest dollars which come to Benton County to offset the revenue loss of non-taxable pubic forest lands. These payments have been on-again and off-again as Congress considers renewal. The levy made it possible to help with the workload in the district attorney’s office, return to 24/7 patrol coverage in the Sheriff’s office, and keep Drug Court.
Another effort recently initiated and funded by those forest dollars earmarked for forest-related activities and education is the Community Wildfire Protection program. This service is aimed at reducing wildfire risk in the urbanized rural areas.