BEND, OR -- The two Republicans running for Deschutes County Commissioner Position One faced off in a virtual forum, Tuesday, hosted by the League of Women Voters and City Club of Central Oregon.
Challenger Scott Stuart and Incumbent Tony DeBone were asked what they think are the most important issues. Stuart cited water, homelessness and what he called “the voting issue.” He says those issues could all be fixed by implementing "home rule." Stuart says, "If the people vote for this on a ballot measure in November of this year, it will give the County Commissioners the power to legislate ordinances that are on the same level as the state statutes." Incumbent Commissioner DeBone says managing growth is the biggest issue facing the county, "We do have people moving here; we have a high cost of housing. And I really do advocate for maybe opening up the land use book that Oregon has."
The two candidates discussed a range of topics, from social justice and the water crisis, to recent lawsuits against the Sheriff. But things got a little heated when the candidates were asked about the county’s pandemic response. Both said Governor Brown overstepped her authority. But overall, DeBone stood by county-level decisions, "I was always an advocate of a culture of prudence and safety. If you want to get a vaccine, if you want to wear a mask, please do. It may be prudent if you’re in a store and you’re immunocompromised." Stuart gave the county an ‘F’ grade, saying he’s running for office because of what he sees as a lack of county leadership during the pandemic, "I’ve never worn a mask. I’ve been out on the frontlines. People’s Rights- that group formed because nobody was listening to us."
Stuart and DeBone were asked what sets them apart from the other candidate. "I’m a lion," said Stuart, "I don’t know what Tony is, but I know he’s not a lion. Right now, our county needs leadership- leadership that will take action." Commissioner DeBone responded, "I feel like my opponent is speaking to a small section of the community in every topic that he’s talking about. I’m experienced and I do know that I represent everybody."
The winner of the Republican nomination on May 17 will take on Oliver Tatom in the November Election. Tatom is the only Democrat running for Deschutes County Commissioner Position One. Click HERE to watch Tuesday's forum and others hosted by the League of Women Voters of Deschutes County.