BEND, OR -- Nearly a year after taking office, Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson says he's making progress on his campaign promises. Although, admits transitioning from the private to public sector has been a challenge, "The level of contacts with people in the community, with other organizations we’re involved with, with the county, and the variety of issues is quite a bit."
Henderson campaigned on three key issues: affordable housing, reducing the budget, and rolling back marijuana regulations
. "We were successful in the budget," Henderson tells KBND News. "When we set the budget it actually lowered the rate $.03 per $1,000. Unfortunately, people didn’t really see it on their bills because other new bonds went in. But, if you look at your county rate, it’s less. It almost countered the automatic 3% increase."
But, he says his quest for more affordable housing in the region has not been as successful. "I’m frustrated with the amount of control at the state level – the Department of Land Conservation & Development. Our whole structure in Oregon is 44 years old, now. There’s problems throughout the state, really, with housing because of our restriction of growth.
Henderson spent much of his campaign focused on recreation marijuana regulations and, in the past year, has frequently opposed new pot facilities; However, he’s often outvoted. "Although I voted against several applications, many applications go through without appeal. The ones that have come to us, we really apply the county regulations that were put in place. And, I’ve been pretty clear that there are certain regulations that I think there’s a certain standard, particularly with regard to proof of what they’re going to do with odor control, noise control and then, we’re starting to ask more questions about the water. So, what I’ve actually voted down is the applicants’ proof of whether it met the requirements of the regulations." He’s heard from citizens on both sides of the pot issue, "A lot of people are still concerned about the illegality on the federal level. And it effects things like property values; I mean, there are definite cases of that." He says he will continue to evaluate how the county can best serve neighbors and the industry.
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