Four candidates want to take Will Tucker’s Position 3 seat on the Linn County Board of Commissioners.
Tucker has served three four-year terms on the three-person commission and announced his retirement last year.
The contenders include State Rep. Sherrie Sprenger — who could become the first woman on the board since Catherine Skiens 20 years ago — Chris Wade, Scott Bruslind and Gary Sullivan.
The board has been composed solidly of Republicans for many years, but that also could change: Wade is a Libertarian, Bruslind is a Democrat and Sullivan is an independent.
Board Chairman Roger Nyquist is also on the ballot, running unopposed for re-election to Position 2.
Lacomb-area resident Sprenger, 55, has a degree in management and communication from Corban University. She has served in the state Legislature since 2008.
“It has been one of my greatest honors to represent the needs of my friends and neighbors in Salem. After 13 years in Salem I’m excited to come home and work in the county I’ve called home most of my life,” Sprenger said. “I have a unique ability to bridge state and local government, using the extensive relationships I have built over the years.”
Sprenger said she is committed to holding 100 meetings with constituents in her first 100 days in office.
“This is a great opportunity to learn what’s important to the people of Linn County,” Sprenger said.
Sprenger said she would like to add live streaming of board meetings.
“I have spent the last 13 years participating in meetings that were live-streamed so busy people wouldn’t have to drop what they were doing to participate in their government,” Sprenger said.
Sprenger said the COVID-19 pandemic “continues to be one of the biggest issues we wrestle with. It is important to be safe and keep our positive test numbers low, but it’s also important to keep our county open for business and offer our students the best education possible under the circumstances.”
Sprenger said advocating for the residents of Linn County is more important than ever due to the recent wildfires.
“I continue to be amazed and proud of the resiliency of Linn County residents,” Sprenger added.
Lebanon-area resident Scott Bruslind, 61, has a master’s degree in agricultural education from the University of Arizona and is an analytical chemist.
Bruslind said he met Commissioner Tucker at the Linn County Fair. Bruslind said he has been impressed with how Tucker “comported himself in office as an advocate for rural Linn County” and he would like to continue that work.
Bruslind said his background provides him with the skills to be a county commissioner. He served in the Peace Corps, was a quality assurance chemist at Georgia-Pacific Resins, founded an analysis lab for food and beverages, and is a co-founder of Conversion Brewing in Lebanon.
“This is a success story that I’d like to replicate in the county,” Bruslind said. “We leveraged our business knowledge and credit line to partner with Matt Cowart and with the city of Lebanon to make a downtown, family-friendly destination pizzeria-brewpub.”
Bruslind said he sees three key issues facing the county: work force development, rural residential zoning improvements and public safety and mental health coordination.
• Work force development: Bruslind said Linn County has a “record of exceptional fiscal stewardship, budgetary controls and accounting transparency” under former Administrator Ralph Wyatt. He expects that leadership will continue under Darrin Lane. He said the county should strive to be a “best employer.”
• Rural residential zoning: Focus on Senate Bill 88A, which allows the development of one accessory building up to 100 feet from the main house to be used as a rental. Farmers and ranchers could transition their operations to young farmers and, when retirement comes, switch homes so they can “age in place and spend their later years on the place they love.”
• Law enforcement/mental health: “I’m proposing a professional track mental health deputy team. We should promote collaboration between law enforcement and mental health professionals to provide crisis intervention and crisis stabilization services to individuals in behavioral health emergencies.”
Sweet Home resident Gary Sullivan is a carpenter and logger.
Sullivan believes residential property taxes are “oppressive.”
“Home ownership and home improvement should be encouraged,” Sullivan said. “The property tax system as it is does the opposite. It creates uncertainty and financial hardship for many and contributes to higher rent and homelessness. People should be free to improve their property without being penalized with additional escalating yearly property tax.”
Sullivan said it is wrong that the government can put a lien on someone’s property and the county can sell it to cover delinquent taxes.
“Yearly property tax is the government claiming ownership of our property, usurping our property rights, financial security and freedom,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said freehold property is a human right and should be in the Constitution.
If elected, Sullivan said he will:
• Work diligently to devise a plan that leads to freehold of our homes and land.
• Encourage the senior commissioners to join in the process.
• Always put the needs of people ahead of business.
• Never approve property tax lien foreclosure and eviction.
• Inform voters of deceptive bonds and levies such as the 2018 four-year law enforcement levy.
• Make decisions in favor of environmental quality and protect the biosphere for posterity.
• Refuse to support frivolous spending.
• Be available to mediate complaints and conflicts to achieve fair resolution.
Christopher Wade, 46, lives in Sweet Home, has associate’s degrees in general studies and applied science and is working toward a management degree at Oregon State.
“I want to serve on the Linn County Board of Commissioners because we are in challenging times and I don’t see big government being a solution to the problem,” Wade said. “I am running because I want to bring my abilities in team-building and leadership to help our county grow and thrive. I truly believe that we can do that together.”
Three key issues he sees for the county:
• The economy: "2020 has been a rough year for everyone. Between COVID-19 and the wildfires, we have taken an economic hit that we need to recover from. I want to work to cut the red tape to get our businesses open and growing, while still keeping our people safe. We can do that by working with business owners, nonprofits and regulators to come up with solutions, while still keeping our government small."
• Growth: "The economic hits of the last few years have driven many people to move to find better opportunities. Oregon is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, and that growth is something we can tap into. I want to work to help our county grow, while still keeping the small-town community feel that we all love. I believe that we can do that by working together to help small businesses start and thrive while keeping our communities someplace that people want to call home."
• Youth: "The youth of Linn County face serious challenges in education. Many of our youth struggle with finding direction. Unlike what has been pushed by big government, not all of our kids will go to college, so the question becomes, what do they do? This is where the community college and trade schools come in. We need to work to expand opportunities for the future of our youth."
“As a small government libertarian, I am committed to working to improve our communities through building partnerships and empowering our people to help each other without government mandates,” Wade said. “We can come together as a county because it is what is best for us, not because a government tells us that we have to.”
Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.
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