By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
At a Bend Chamber candidate forum Tuesday, two Deschutes County commissioner hopefuls defended their platforms and took aim at their opponent.
“When you hear my opponent say we should do this, we should do that, ask if we’re already doing it, because what I hear from him is many things that we’re already doing he’s now saying we should do,” Phil Henderson, one of the candidates, said.
“I offer a pragmatic collaborative problem-solving approach,” Phil Chang, the opposing candidate, said. “Phil Henderson offers polarization and fighting over things like COVID response, forest management and water conservation.”
Henderson, a Republican running for re-election, focused on what he called his successes during his tenure as a commissioner.
“I’ve been very successful at several things,” Henderson said. “First, I promised I would lower our property taxes and twice I’ve led that effort and we’ve successfully done it. That’s something a lot of people appreciate, people in business appreciate it.”
Chang, a Democrat with a background working for the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, highlighted his experience working on environmental issues.
“Eleven years ago I helped to bring together the timber industry, environmentalists and firefighters to make our forests safer, healthier and more resilient,” Chang said.
The county’s response to the pandemic was a hot topic during the forum.
“Our county commission swept us up in the national polarization around COVID,” Chang said. “Commissioner Henderson appeared very early at a re-opening protest and told people ‘I don’t know how seriously you need to take COVID.'”
Henderson defended both his own and the county’s handling of COVID-19.
“We were great leaders locally with regards to masks and social distancing,” Henderson said. “I wore a mask before the CDC said it was right to do. I even wore one before our health director did.”
A full recording of the forum is available on Bend Chamber’s YouTube Channel.