Oliver Tatom for Deschutes County Commissioner Pos. 1
While both of the candidates in the race for the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners' Position 1 are upstanding people who care deeply about their community, a few key points lead us to recommend a change of leadership. Tony DeBone can rest on his laurels for helping to see Veteran's Village and the Deschutes County Stabilization Center opened on his watch—two programs that show what can be possible at the county level to tackle issues such as homelessness and mental health crises. But we have to wonder, what more could have been done in those arenas had DeBone and the then-all-Republican Commission not decided to lower the county's tax rate back in 2017? For the negligible amount that it lowered individual property owners' taxes, could we have added yet another village or mental health facility?
A few other points demonstrate a difference in philosophy between the two candidates. DeBone voted against expanding county employees' health plans to include abortion services beyond cases of rape or incest. DeBone also voted to put a measure on this November's ballot to try to ban psilocybin service centers in the wider county—a move he described in our endorsement interview as a "marketing tool" to help educate the public about what these centers will do and how they'll affect property owners. These philosophical differences impact people's lives and their ability to access services that could improve their physical or mental health, and in a time when those things are direly needed, we can't stand by that.
Oliver Tatom is a paramedic and RN—backgrounds that we think will add to his quiver when being the overseer of the county's health department—the largest department in the county at roughly 1,200 employees. (Editor's note: This figure has been updated from the print edition to reflect the 2023 fiscal year budget)
He's a proponent of making better use of the lands the county owns to tackle issues such as homelessness—whether that means actually using county lands for those purposes, or leveraging the land to lease to other service providers. Where DeBone is firm in his belief that the region's aquifer is "robust," Tatom is in favor of exploring ways to solve the issue of over-allocation of water resources—a signal of the type of forward-thinking concern we need in leaders in the midst of an unprecedented drought and the worsening impacts of climate change.
Fundamentally, Tatom represents a more forward-thinking and improvement-oriented vision for the county. Vote Oliver Tatom for Deschutes County Commissioner Position 1.