BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger is seeking reelection, after eight years at the post. At Tuesday night's Bend Chamber of Commerce forum, Unger debated his Republican challenger on topics ranging from canal piping to Measure 97.
They also discussed the Board of County Commissioners' decision to allow recreational marijuana to be grown and processed in unincorporated areas. Unger says they needed to act. "We were having quite a division in the county between those people who were opposed and those people who were supportive. And, it was getting to be quite a fight, and I thought at that point it was important for us to be leaders as County Commissioners, and move forward and make decisions. So, we moved forward; we listened to the community, we made reasonable regulations that protected the rural lifestyle of the people who live in the county, and then we adopted those."
The state Legislature allowed communities to opt out of Measure 91, Oregon's recreational marijuana law, and send the issue back to the ballot. Challenger Phil Henderson feels the board should have let voters have the final say. "The conflict could've been resolved on the November ballot. I was very concerned about the fact that rural Deschutes County, which was going to be impacted the most by the commercial growing, processing of marijuana, had voted overwhelmingly against recreational marijuana - if you went precinct by precinct. But, if you're just trying to resolve the conflict, we have a Democratic system that allows us to resolve the conflict. The Legislature gave us that system and gave us that right, and I think it's wrong it was taken away from us."