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Election 2022: County Commission Candidates

County Commission Candidates

 

Scott Bruslind, 63

Family: Married to Linda, 29 years; Children: Jorian (graduated Lebanon High School, 2016, graduated Oregon State University 2022), Kelton and Svea (twins, graduated LHS, 2019, currently attending OSU).
Education: Master’s degree, University of Arizona, Agricultural Education; B.S. chemistry, Upsala College.
Professional Background/Work Experience: Partner (with wife Linda) Analysis Laboratory, 25 years serving the food and beverage industry with chemical and microbiological analyses. Co-founder (with Matt Cowart), Conversion Brewing Company, brewpub/pizzeria in downtown Lebanon. QA Chemist, Georgia-Pacific Resins, Inc., Millersburg formaldehyde and thermosetting resin producer.
Political Experience/Affiliations: Fourth-generation Democrat, Great-grandfather was mayor of Smethport, PA, Dad was elected Selectman in Sherman, CT. Member of the Democratic Party of Oregon Gun Owners Caucus which is opposed to Initiative 114.
Other Community Involvement/Affiliations: Board member, South Santiam Watershed Council, vice-chair, Lacomb Irrigation District; treasurer, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis; member, Lacomb Grange #907; former Scoutmaster of Scouts BSA Troop 7088.
Contact: [email protected].
For More Info: www.scottbruslindforlinncounty.com / www.facebook.com/sbb4lcc3

Will Tucker, 70

Family: Wife Lynne, adult children, grandchildren.
Education: California Polytechnic State University; Rochester Institute of Technology; Linn-Benton Community College.
Professional Background/Work Experience: Hewlett-Packard (1972- 2001); Realtor (2003-09).
Political Experience/Affiliations: Linn County Commission (2009-present, with four-month gap in 2021 following his decision not to run in 2020 due to family issues. Those had been accommodated when Commissioner John Lindsey died in office and Tucker was appointed in April 2021 to take that position.) Lacomb School Board and Budget Committee; Linn County Parks Board; County Planning Commission and Budget Committee.
Other Community Involvement/Affiliations (outside of activities/experience already listed): Multitude of volunteer work including ABC House, CASA, Oregon Veterans Administration.
Contact: [email protected]

Question/Answer

Why do you want to be a Linn County Commissioner?

Scott Bruslind: I need the work and can do the job.
COVID sent many of our brewpub/restaurant clients into receivership. I’ve never seen anything so devastating develop so quickly. National brewpub chains declared bankruptcy with less than a month’s notice, and stuck us with outstanding invoices.
God bless the Cowarts and Conversion Brewing Company for keeping current on their repayments during this trying time. We can’t forget the consequences imposed on small businesses by policy makers who never missed a paycheck.
I can do the job because the work with Lacomb Irrigation District Board of Directors has trained me on the requirements of open government and being accountable to constituents. Also, since buying our place in Lacomb in 1997, we’ve interacted with many of the county departments related to rural living: Building and Planning, Environmental Health, Surveyor’s Office, County Clerk (for recording property line adjustments, etc.), Exclusive Farm Use zoning and Farm Deferral Taxes, Road Department (apron paving as part of Home Occupancy Conditional Use Permit). We have found county staff to be knowledgeable, courteous and helpful. I intend to hold their good work up for more Linn County folks to see.

Will Tucker: I believe that I have done great things for Linn County and have great things yet to do. I’ve led projects like the Veterans Home, and I’ve supported projects like the transmodal facility in Millersburg. These are things I have done to support the economy, to help Linn County. I played an active role in recruiting the medical schools and I’m interested in bringing other schools to Oregon. I feel I have a lot left to give. Working for Linn County is a joy for me every day.

What are your top three priorities as a commissioner?

Will Tucker: First, continue to try to open the forest for more active management. Work to have better fire suppression for large fires.
Second, work on mental health issues for the community that seems to be needing it, which seems to be growing in numbers.
Third, be present for Linn County citizens when someone needs someone to talk to at the county.

Scott Bruslind: Land Use Reform and Affordable Housing: With the passage of SB391 in 2021, counties can now permit accessory dwelling units on rural residential lots. This is permanent, not a “mother-in-law” hardship conditional use permit, and won’t go away. Linn County can work with professional Realtors to create a program that guides property owners to develop their ADU’s in a way that adds permanent value and meets the needs of families, both old and young.
Infrastructure Investment, Jobs, Rural and Urban Cooperation: Federal money has been approved and is in the pipeline; but it will be competitive and Commissioners must be ambitious and position the county in the best light to win funding.
We can leverage our leadership in funding OSU Cooperative Extension through our levy to develop rural based business innovation and secure family wage jobs for the next generation.
Firearm Harm Reduction, Veterans and Health Care Integration: I mentioned that as a member of the Gun Owners Caucus, I am opposed to Initiative 114, but have been working for the last year on something better. It’s already approved and implemented in Louisiana and Utah.
The program makes it easy and encourages those (especially veterans) in mental health crisis to know that there is a trusted party who cares for them and can hold their firearms in safe keeping, no questions asked and return them when the crisis has passed.
In Oregon, 81% of firearms deaths are suicides and 70.5% of veteran suicides are by firearm. We’ll move very far along in harm reduction by implementing this proven program. Beyond this issue, we need to secure a stable funding model for health care, so all businesses, large and small, have a healthy, protected workforce and can stay competitive.

What do you believe is your primary purpose of the county government and how would your role as a commissioner fit into that?

Scott Bruslind: I’m an Originalist regarding the purpose of county government. Counties have two mandates: keep the peace (through the Sheriff’s Office) and connect farms with market towns. My primary job is to make connections that build communities throughout the county. We can start by updating the links on the county website so they are functional.
We can make (County Communications Officer) Alex Paul’s monthly newsletter more widely distributed and expand the coverage. Linn County can return to participating more actively in the Association of Oregon Counties and collaborate with Lane, Benton, Marion, Polk and Deschutes Counties on regional initiatives. Finally, we can improve and practice our plans for emergency preparedness, so folks know the evacuation point closest to their home.

Will Tucker: Deliver on-the-ground state and federal programs and administer them for those communities that are not cities, not incorporated for their own full structures. To have a safe and vibrant county. The county government provides everything from dog catcher to alcohol and drug treatment, to parks and recreation to lobbying on behalf of industries in our county.

Is the county headed in the right direction now? If so, what do you like? If not, what would you change?

Will Tucker: I’m pretty proud of what’s happened in the last few years, bringing businesses to Linn County. In the next few weeks we will have some announcements of new businesses coming to Millersburg. That’s what we are doing right.
What I find being wrong is the shortfall we have in mental health. This is not a Linn County problem; it’s a state of Oregon problem. They’re not holding the people they could and should be holding. I’m concerned that we do not have enough psychiatrists. We have 20 openings in Linn County Mental Health. With 20 openings, I can’t give service.
In many months – not all, a couple people in Linn County have committed suicide. This month alone I had had parents on the phone and in my office expressing frustrations with the mental health situation in Linn County.

Scott Bruslind: On www.niche.com Linn County has a rating of C- for livability. So, we’re passing, but just by the skin of our teeth. We can drift along like this for a while, yet.
But why not start improving by adopting best practices from other Oregon counties? There are easy- to-implement changes, already proven. I ask my son what it would take to bring him and his work team at NVidia from Beaverton to Linn County. They work remotely, mostly now, anyway. We don’t need to offer big tax breaks, just some thought about why we raised our families here and what benefits employers will find relocating to Linn County.
Let’s expand that question to all Linn County graduates in the last 5-10 years. What can we do to bring you home? I share that I’ve been all around the world and I think this place we call home is the best place on earth. Give me four years to convince you, too.

Timberlands management continues to be a big issue in Linn County, including for commissioners (timber lawsuit, opposition to the proposed Douglas Fir National Monument). What do you consider the biggest issues regarding the timberlands in Linn County and how would you address those?

Scott Bruslind: We’ve learned from the Timber Suit that we will not sue our way to a solution, but the more important objective is that we all need to get outside more often, especially our kids. We need to understand, firsthand, what we’re talking about.
I took a tour with Dave Stone, the president of the Doug-fir Monument movement and Bob Thomas, a retired USFS contract manager, who sold more units of Forest Service timberland than are at play in the monument matter. We argued over logging road maintenance, selective vs clear-cut logging and what kind of bureaucracy a monument designation would impose.
Each and every one of those matters can be resolved. And, Bob reminds us that the U.S. Forest Service is a phenomenally well-qualified organization to address these issues, and we need to be on a first-name basis with the heads of the Sweet Home and Detroit Ranger Districts.
As a practical matter, Les Perkins, commissioner in Hood River County, mentored me to never stop talking with the federal and state agencies. Once you stop talking, they start writing your future without you.

Will Tucker: I still am worried deeply about forest management and finding the right balance. That’s something that is wrong and I continue to play an active role in that. Whether it’s our lawsuit that wouldn’t be heard by the state Supreme Court or that fire down by Oakridge – they’re not really trying to put it out. It’s not being fought in a way to put it out. It’s sad to see when fires like Beachy Creek are left for weeks or months because of policies and procedures, not so much the law.
I do oppose the Douglas Fir National Monument. National monuments, if you read the law, should be the smallest size necessary. To take 500,000 acres, to me, is wrong. Douglas firs are plentiful. They’re talking about decommissioning roads, which will make it harder to fight fires.
I have been on the Council of Forest Trust Lands – I was recently asked to be in the group. We have not been able to get a fair shake from the government. Our federal payments keep being cut back annually. We’re getting less and less money, yet we have responsibilities to get up there and fight fires, clean up garbage. We’re experiencing increasing pressure on Linn County.

There’s a strong sense in rural Linn County that the state government isn’t very responsive to rural citizens’ needs or realities. Do you agree and, if so, how would you address that?

Will Tucker: I strongly agree that state government is focused on urban populations. When we had wildfires, we called for shelter support but because we didn’t have as many people in Linn County, we didn’t get as much support as counties with larger populations.
It’s amazing to me, the difference in support that Multnomah County gets in comparison to Linn County. The law passed in Oregon legalizing narcotics,those things are all in my mind as part of an agenda driven out of Portland and Salem and Eugene.
I will continue to press on those issues. We filed a lawsuit against the early release of felons. Do I want a mushroom experience facility in rural Linn County where, if things went bad, they’re nowhere near a hospital?
There is an economic, a political, a lifestyle divide between urban and rural Oregon.

Scott Bruslind: Absolutely true, and commissioners have a significant obligation to advocate with representatives and senators at the state and federal level. State representatives and senators work to advocate for us in the Legislature. How well are they regarded by their peers? How effective have they been?
I was in a Town Hall with Sen. Jeff Merkley in July and no one represented Linn County. No one. You have to show up and advocate to be heard.

With a recession looming (or already here), what do you think of the county’s financial situation and what changes, if any, would you pursue in terms of spending?

Scott Bruslind: The federal infrastructure money passed in 2022 is still in the pipeline, so the focus on county spending will be on securing investments for creating a more economically productive county. I’ll ask department heads how competitive we are and spending reductions will become obvious in the course of that conversation.

Will Tucker: I can’t and won’t raise fees and taxes, other than 3% that we’re allowed to do. I don’t see Linn County, in the near future, going for a levy. Linn County has been in the best financial position this year that we’ve been in my 14 years as commissioner. We understand that in hard economic times, we do not ask citizens to levy more taxes against themselves. We see it and we’re fearful of it.
The economy is a harsh thing right now. I met with a couple of doctors in Sweet Home last week to talk about medical costs. Those of us with good government jobs or who work for Fortune 500 companies, we won’t feel it like those in the trades will.
We give employers as much help as we can. Our county still has the Youth Wage Grant, in which we contribute $5 per hour for youth wage jobs. We were the first county to do that. Now other counties are doing it.

What other issues, if any, which we haven’t addressed, do you consider important for Linn County? How would you respond to those, if elected?

Will Tucker: One of the things that’s really important is for Linn County to have consistent, experienced leadership,. The reason I came back (after retiring from the commission) was that I didn’t want to see two inexperienced commissioners at once. Also, I wanted to finish some things that John (Lindsey) was working on.
I worry about the rhetoric that’s so hot and hateful. As a Christian, I find it distasteful and it gives me some concern. It’s important that not just commissioners, but school boards, City Councils, look for calm.
I want to work on issues because it’s the right thing to do for individuals, for Linn County.

Scott Bruslind: The biggest issue to address is why we have spent millions of dollars in Millersburg on the trans-modal project, and a fraction of that on the Sweet Home Desler/Willamette/Weyerhaueser/Linn County mill site. Let’s finish the job and turn it over as a cleaned-up site with DEQ signing off on the project. It’s absolutely essential to the future of Sweet Home to get the matter to closure.

There are two candidates for this position. What most distinguishes you from the others? Why should voters choose you?

Scott Bruslind: It’s a matter of desire. Hire someone who wants/needs the work. Every employer knows that attitude is everything. Give me a chance to earn your trust and exceed your expectations.

Will Tucker: I’ve had opportunity in manufacturing, in sales, to be a manager and lead large organizations. I bring that leadership experience to the county.
Over my years in the county, I’ve received awards from multiple organizations, many many certificates of thanks. I’ve been volunteer of year.
I’ve been elected by my peers, the county commissioners of a six-county region, to represent them on issues. I have been appointed by the federal government – the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, to work with the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM.
Even if I lost the race, I would still be trying to be involved in the community. I am hoping that I will be re-elected, since my name has been submitted to the Board of Forestry for a position that I’d really like.
To me, the commission is the best job in the world. I work hard for Linn County citizens. I hope they re-elect me so I can do these things.