Deschutes County Commissioners Running Unopposed In May Primary
There are two candidates on the ballot for Deschutes County Commissioner Position 2. Each candidate is unopposed for his party’s nomination in the May 17th primary.
Barring any serious write-ins, voters will choose between incumbent Alan Unger, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Philip Henderson in the November election.
Unger touts a long political career in Deschutes County. The Redmond native served on the planning commission for 8 years, and later as mayor. The Democrat currently serves as county commissioner.
Unger: “I clearly know what the job responsibility is and I’m doing it today.”
Republican Philip Henderson is a general contractor, homebuilder, and lawyer. He thinks the county needs new leadership.
Henderson: “We're facing a lot of different issues because of our growth and because of the diversity of different things that we have in our county that I think take somebody with a fresh look at it."
Henderson has been practicing law in Deschutes County for 14 years. He's been a homebuilder for 13.
Henderson: "I'm a good advocate; I've worked on behalf of people in courts and negotiations. I'm a good businessman. I know how to read budgets, and I’m a good entrepreneur. I know how to grow a business and make the economy work well."
For Democratic incumbent Alan Unger, this election is about continuing projects he's already working on. He points to efforts bringing environmental, economic and recreational stakeholders together to manage the regions forests. He is also proud of his work allocating the county's water supply.
Unger: "We are working on that today with a basin study plan. Even though we have the spotted frog, which is an issue for us, we're working through that."
Affordable housing is an issue in the Bend / Redmond area with a growing population and high costs of living. Unger says each city has a 1 percent vacancy rate, and that makes it difficult for people moving there.
Unger: "It's not one that government necessarily fixes, but we are one of the players who can help work through the issue and bring some things to the table."
Challenger Henderson thinks the County's housing problem stems from restrictive land use policies and urban growth boundaries.
Henderson: "And I want to work on that because we've got a duel problem of people not being able to afford starter homes and being forced into apartments, and an increased number of homeless people in the last 10 or 15 years."
In 2015, The Homeless Leadership Coalition estimated there were more than 2,000 people identifying as homeless in Bend.
The next Deschutes County Commissioner will need to address housing as Oregon State University's Cascade campus nears completion. More than 1,000 students are currently enrolled in classes. The campus plans to expand to 3 to 5,000 by 2025.
Oregon's primary is May 17th. Both candidates are unopposed and will likely win their party’s nomination. Voters will decide the next Deschutes County Commissioner Position 2 in November.