Saturday, March 25, 2006
By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
March 11, 2006
Hood River County elections took an unexpected twist late Tuesday afternoon when Commission Chair Rodger Schock withdrew his bid for a third two-year term in office.
And District 2 Commissioner Maui Meyer then filed for Shock’s at-large seat less than one hour before the 5 p.m. deadline.
He will now face off with Hood River resident Paul Nevin in the May 16 primary election. The winner of that race will have his name singly listed on the November ballot.
(Click on Who has filed for the May 16 Primary for a full listing of election filings.)
If Meyer is elected to the lead role in county government, the Board of Commissioners will appoint someone to fill the two years remaining on his unexpired term.
Schock, 62, said stepping down at the end of 2006 will be difficult even though he is ready for a less hectic schedule. He said it has been very gratifying to serve the 22,000 citizens of the county. But he is selling his Odell welding business and is ready to travel with wife, Judy, and enjoy more family time.
“I’ve really enjoyed my public service and I feel good about where we’re heading on some key issues — that will leave me with a good feeling for a long time to come,” he said.
By the time he steps down, Schock intends to have orchestrated plans for more affordable housing and an expansion of the industrial lands base to create more jobs. He also wants to see the county headed into the renewable energy business to offset the cost of essential services.
“I will be very proud to have helped with these accomplishments and expect to see some good things happen in the near future,” said Schock.
He believes the current board, which includes Meyer, Carol York, Chuck Thomsen and Les Perkins, work extremely well together and provide a balance between viewpoints. He hopes that same good working relationship evolves between the new board that will be seated in 2007.
Thomsen is running unopposed for District 3 so he will be returning for another four years. But York did not re-file for her District 1 role, in order to pursue a bigger challenge. She is currently campaigning as a Republican against incumbent Democratic Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches.
Barbara Briggs, executive director of the local United Way, and Cascade Locks City Councilor Rob Brostoff have both thrown their hats in the ring for York’s position.
Meyer, 39, said it will be difficult for him to fill Schock’s shoes. He said it has been “amazing” how many people the current chair has gotten to know through the past four years — and his previous experience as a commissioner between 1979 and 1986.
“He’s taught me that listening is a very big part of the job. Rodger has developed a rapport with people who have traditionally been disenfranchised with government and that is very impressive,” said Meyer.
Although he was elected in 2004 to largely represent residents of Hood River, Meyer believes that he now needs to broaden his knowledge base. He is hoping that Thomsen and Perkins will introduce him to more people in the agricultural community — who will help him learn more about their concerns.
“I can keep the agenda going, that will be easy. But it’s going to take work to build the same level of trust that Rodger had with people throughout the county,” said Meyer.
He joins Schock in excitement about the direction the county is headed with affordable housing. Meyer, who sits on the advisory committee studying the issue, contends that officials should have addressed the problem 10 years ago. Therefore, he said quick action is necessary to ensure that lower and middle income residents can still afford to buy a home in or around Hood River.
One way to accomplish that goal, said Meyer, is to bring more companies that pay family-wage jobs into the region. He believes that agriculture and tourism, the county’s most high profile industries, can be used as a marketing tool to attract new enterprises.
“It’s time to get some more jobs in this wonderful community. We have visitors coming downtown, it’s vibrant, and now we need to give residents a place to work and enjoy a successful life,” he said.
Meyer, a developer of high-density dwellings and the owner of several small businesses, has also been a strong supporter of renewable energy. He currently sits on the steering committee to explore options for the county’s potential new enterprise.
Meyer said production of wind, hydro or bio-mass energy is an environmentally-friendly way for local government to raise more money.
He sits on the steering committee currently exploring all of the available “green” power options. Meyer said county involvement in that market will be similar to the sustainable harvest program on its forest lands that generate $4.2 million of revenue each year.
Meyer anticipates that the biggest challenge facing the county in the next few years is management of Measure 37 development.
Although he did not support the citizen initiative that became law 2004, he respects the will of voters. And has developed empathy for situations where Oregon’s land-use laws “failed” a property owner — and a Measure 37 claim restored fairness.
However, he is concerned about the increased work load on planners from complex development applications brought by the owners of Measure 37 properties.
Meyer worries about the cost to the county, not only in staff time, but materials. He said many rural roadways could require improvements to handle increased traffic from new subdivisions in outlying areas.
“We definitely have some big challenges facing us in this area and it’s not going to be a fun time,” said Meyer. He makes his home in Hood River with wife, Jan, and their two children, Nathaniel, 3, and Julia, 9 months.