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Election Endorsements: Deschutes County 

DeBone for Deschutes County Seat #1

At a recent candidate forum Tony DeBone didn't sound like much of a politician, fumbling to explain why as a citizen he was going to vote in favor of raising taxes for a new jail while running on a campaign of (read my lips) "no new taxes," but we're not going to hold that against him. And we think that voters shouldn't either. We like DeBone's fresh and sometimes unpolished approach that can come off sounding - dare we say it - like honesty. And while his delivery could use some work, DeBone represents a chance to bring a new perspective to the county commission.
A career Air Force man who currently runs a computer business in La Pine, DeBone would add some needed representation for south county as well as some 21st century business experience, something the commission currently lacks. It won't be an easy road for DeBone who is up against one of Deschutes County's most entrenched politicians, Dennis Luke, a former three-term state legislator who has served on the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners since 1999. Luke is inarguably one of the most knowledgeable and skilled politicians around Central Oregon. Quite simply, he represents the status quo. For that reason we think he should be thanked for his service and relieved of his post. To do that, we're recommending that you vote for Tony DeBone.

Baney For Deschutes County Seat #3

It's no great surprise that Commissioner Tammy Baney's challenger has come from the right, the far right, in the form of Ed Barbeau, a private investigator cum pizza parlor owner who wants to reduce the size of county government, roll back taxes, re-animate Reagan (OK we made that up) and implement a host of other Tea Party talking points. Personally, we have a hard time comprehending the idea that a county overrun by foreclosures, bankrupt resorts and that spends its time mulling anti-bike riding legislation (not making that up) needs to slide to the right. Thankfully, Baney has been a consistent advocate of reason, advocating for long-range planning (Barbeau dislikes "studies"), controlled growth and public-private partnerships in areas like social services where she has extensive executive and volunteer experience. We like the direction in which Baney has tried to point the county and, frankly, we're a little frightened of the alternative.

Gist For Deschutes County Seat #1

The two candidates vying for a shot at challenging incumbent Dennis Luke, should he make it through the primary, are a study in contrasts. Dallas Brown is a hometown boy just barely removed from college who has immersed himself in politics since he was a toddler. John Gist, on the other hand, is a successful businessman from Southern California who has lived in Central Oregon long enough to call himself a local. Unlike Brown who has served as an aide, volunteer and advocate from Bend to Washington, D.C., Gist is making his first foray into politics at any level. Despite his age, Brown has done his homework, he's well-versed on the issues facing the county and he's made clear that he's willing to do the hard work of campaigning. Gist on the other hand is still getting up to speed on local politics and is running a largely armchair campaign in the primary. While we think Dallas is the best candidate in purely political terms, Gist's age and experience make him the best man for the job and the most viable candidate in November when it really counts. So we're giving him the nod with the hope that he knuckles down over the summer and mounts a serious run for seat number one.

Yes on Deschutes County Jail Bond

Despite some of the predictions, crime rates have held relatively stable through the recession, reflecting a larger societal trend that shows crime has leveled off in the U.S. That's the good news. The bad news is that our fast-growing county's jail is bursting at the seams. While there is plenty of room for improvement in the justice system, more money for treatment, the abolition of mandatory minimums for drug crimes, etc., there is no getting around the need to house society's offenders whether they're serving time for a violent assault or awaiting a hearing on a DUI arrest. And in case you haven't been paying attention, our county is no longer able to provide this basic service. Instead, inmates are being released prematurely on a regular basis because of overcrowding. We'll save you the scare tactics that could be employed. Suffice it to say that we think the county ought to decide whether to release prisoners on the basis of public safety, not on the number of available bunk beds. The proposed expansion represents a long-term solution, adding 250 beds to the jail and additional space for treatment programs and other desirable administrative improvements. The cost is significant: $44 million to be repaid with interest over 30 years. That comes out to about $36 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home. You may or may not notice the difference on your property tax bill, but we think it's worth the cost if it means doing away with Deschutes County's catch-and-release program.

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