Adair, Schmidt in county contest

 

Last updated 10/12/2022 at Noon

In interviews with The Nugget strong differences between candidates Patti Adair and Morgan Schmidt become evident. Adair, the incumbent running for Deschutes County Commissioner Position 3, speaks animatedly with a focus on tasks — those she’s accomplished, and those she wants to do.

Schmidt, her opponent, is making her first run for public office. She speaks in measured tones with a focus on policy. It’s Adair’s and current commissioner Terry DeBone’s decisions while serving that motivated Schmidt to enter the race. Schmidt is displeased, especially with Adair’s past responses to COVID-19 mandates, and land use approvals.

Schmidt served as a pastor with First Presbyterian Church in Bend. She credits her work in ministry as developing what she says is one of her key strengths: listening. By inference she suggests that Adair does not always listen to the voices of others.

“I pay attention to experts on vital issues,” Schmidt said, in describing her core concerns of land use, water supply, and housing.

“This race is mostly a referendum on how we grow,” Schmidt said.

When Schmidt talks about housing she keys on homelessness.

Adair too talks about housing, primarily its affordability, and depriving younger workers and families of ownership, and forcing them into rental prices in the County that exceed statewide averages. Adair has most of her attention directed at economic issues.

“Gas at almost $6, slowing construction, inflation are having a disastrous impact on our citizens,” Adair said.

She takes an incremental approach to problem-solving, and cites the recent adoption of a 57-acre parcel on which will stand single-wide workforce housing between Bend and Redmond. Her support to complete Senate Bill 391 is energized with the potential for 10,000 ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units).

Schmidt says we have a housing crisis.

“Our top priority must be to collaborate with city government to thoughtfully build more housing,” she said.

She was strenuously opposed to a recent Commission decision to convert 710 acres of farm land near Terrebonne into 10, 71- acre parcels for ranchettes.

“People think that because I was a pastor that I am soft, but I will have strong policies and bring strong leadership to the process,” she said.

When The Nugget asked what it’s like on the campaign trail, Adair reported going door-to-door with her list of accomplishments.

“I tell people that I am the hardest working Commissioner they’ve ever had,” she said.

She seems content to run on her record as she seeks her second term.

We asked each candidate about how their election would benefit Sisters Country specifically.

Adair who lives near Cloverdale on a ranch, said: “I have a natural kinship with Sisters.”

She believes she has strong support in Sisters and referenced a major contribution from Greg Willits as evidence. An unscientific poll of yard signs in Sisters shows Schmidt as having strong support among city residents. On the outskirts of Sisters, among ranchers and farmers, Adair appears to have broad support.

Schmidt is aware that Adair has name recognition and the theoretical advantage of incumbency but believes she and her supporters have made considerable inroads among the electorate.

“I am flattered by the financial support I am receiving,” she said.

When canvassing she is surprised at how many voters do not have a full or clear picture of what a Commissioner does. Explaining it gives her an opportunity to discuss her priorities for Sisters Country, which are having a supporting role as Sisters grapples with growth.

Adair seems to delight in getting into the daily nitty-gritty of the job. She appears to thrive on small details or complex workings of the Commission. As an example, she boasts about getting rid of juniper trees that “are sucking up a lot of our water.”

With the help of a BLM grant she’s hoping to get the uprooted trees converted to pellets for wood stoves. In the big picture she says: “We are facing a perfect storm with the economy.

“The County’s budget is $400-plus million and it employs some 1,100 to 1,200 people across all the service districts.”

Schmidt says that it is important to keep pace with economic pressures and wants to be sure employment remains strong in the county.

“We don’t want kids living in basements or people living on the streets or in the forest,” she said.

The last day to register to vote is October 18. Ballots go out October 19 for the November 8 vote.

 

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