Chang defeats incumbent Henderson in Deschutes Co. commissioner race

Democrat Phil Chang defeated incumbent Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson Tuesday night after initial returns were counted.

Chang was leading the race with 54% of the vote.

“I think really my key responsibility would be to understand, to the greatest extent possible, what people care about, what people want in our community and try to make those things happen through policy decisions and through funding of allocations,” Chang said late Tuesday during a gathering at Worthy Brewing. ”

Chang, a former staffer for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, came to the race with some momentum having received more than 84% of the votes in the May primary

Henderson, a Republican who was elected in 2016, ran unopposed in the primary.

His seat was the only seat on the commission up for grabs this year.

In a City Club of Central Oregon forum during the campaign, Chang 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.

He was also critical of how the county commissioners were handling COVID-19 locally.

“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.’”

 

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