BEND, OR -- The four Republican candidates for Deschutes County Commissioner faced off Tuesday in another debate. The evening event was part of the "What's Brewing?" series hosted by the Bend Chamber of Commerce.
Patti Adair is challenging incumbent Position Three Commissioner Tammy Baney in the May primary and says Baney's spending time away from Deschutes County working in Salem is not what constituents want. Adair told the crowd, "I will work 100% of my time in Deschutes County. I'm running against an opponent who spends several days a month in Salem, working for Kate Brown." Baney says creating relationships with the state leadership and working on committees at the state level benefits the county, "If we are not at the table, we are on the menu, folks. So, if we want to complain about land use, if we want to complain about issues that are happening in Salem, we have to be at the table to be able to address those."
Adair calls Deschutes County an "enormous business," and says Baney isn't paying enough attention to running it right. But, Baney says, "It is intentional; it is not by happenstance that your county is in very good fiscal condition." She adds that she tries to come to the table without preconceived notions, "We have very spirited dialogue in Deschutes County, and we come together to try and seek solutions. So, for me, it's about being objective and listening to both sides of an issue." But, Adair says Baney isn't doing enough, "It's really important that people make very, very careful decisions when they are a Commissioner; and I would definitely use all the wherewithal and do all the research I could possibly do to make the best decision for you."
Position One challenger and local businessman Ed Barbeau and incumbent Tony DeBone also took part in the forum. Barbeau focused on problems the county has had since July with the Harris Radio system used by first responders, calling the new system an "abject bad decision." He asked DeBone, "Did you even spend five minutes getting on Google and taking a look at all the cities, states, and counties around the country where this system is failing?" DeBone defends the move to Harris, saying the early bugs have been addressed and commissioners followed protocol. He says Barbeau is making it a larger issue than it deserves, "I know you're just like a dog with a bone on this, but we've moved past it, we have an operational system, the officers are using it today, and they've been using it since last July."
DeBone says running the county needs to be like running a business, with a heart for customer service and an eye on the bottom line; he believes that view is what got Deschutes County through the Great Recession. Barbeau says he considered leaving during the downturn, but is glad he didn't, "I got to tell you, I have loved living here for 30 years. It's a wonderful place, and I want it to stay that way."
The Primary is May 15; the winner in each race will face opposition in November. One Democrat has filed for each position.