One of the Deschutes County Commissioner races voters will decide on in two weeks is between incumbent Tony DeBone and challenger Oliver Tatom. Central Oregon Daily News recently had a chance to sit down with each of them one-on-one to discuss the issues.
“We can’t legally, or ethically, remove people from public land if we don’t have a place for them to go,” Tatom said on the increasing homeless population. “We need to get serious about providing a viable option for those folks, so we can get them off of our public lands where they’re creating a public safety risk.”
“In the end, we’ve gotta figure out how to help people that are asking for help,” DeBone said on the same issue. “And there’s this awkward situation where not everybody’s asking for help. Is it addiction cycles? Is it mental health?”
On urban growth, the two opponents have differing ideas on how to address the issue.
Tatom says that that growing out is the wrong way to go.
“It contributes to sprawl and makes so many of our other challenges like traffic and what we’re putting out into our environment so much worse,” Tatom said. “I think our best path forward is to help our cities continue to grow inward.”
Debone agrees with building vertically in the cities, but would also like to see out growth towards the edge of them as well.
“My opponent will say ‘He wants sprawl!'” DeBone said. “Well, if we want housing, where are we going to put houses?
Although the challenger, Tatom says he brings experience to the commission if elected. He currently serves in two other elected offices on the Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors and the Rural Fire Prevention District Board.
“[I bring] a new perspective. A willingness to really try some new things and find a new path forward,” Tatom said.
Debone, the 11-year incumbent on the commission, says he is honored to serve everybody in Deschutes County.
“I’m experienced. I’m open, honest, and accessible. I’m available for people to call me directly, email me, I respond to people all day, every day. And i love doing it,” DeBone said.
Election Day is November 8.