The Benton County Elections Office plans to mail out ballots this week for the Nov. 8 general election and in an effort to help voters get to know the candidates a little better, the Philomath News asked each of them five questions.
This is the second of a five-part series of questions and answers to be published this week at PhilomathNews.com. Two candidates are running for Benton County commissioner — incumbent Pat Malone and challenger William Kughn.
For more information, the Benton County Elections Office uploaded each candidate’s filing form. Information on the forms include details on occupation, educational background and prior governmental experience. Click here for Kughn. Click here for Malone.
In addition, the Benton County Voters’ Pamphlet is available here.
This is the second of five questions asked of the candidates. Each candidate was allowed no more than 200 words for each individual answer with no exceptions. Answers were edited only for punctuation and typos and to conform to newspaper style guidelines (abbreviations, capitalization, etc.).
What do you see as the three biggest issues facing Benton County, and how would you propose these issues be addressed?
KUGHN: 1. Excessive spending. The current budget assumes taxable assessed value will increase at 3.5% per year! Instead of assuming annual increases in all areas of the budget, we should look for areas where spending can be held level, reduced or preferably eliminated altogether. In our zeal to provide all things to all people, have we gotten out in front of our skis?
2. Impending bond issue for new jail/courthouse/crisis center. Considering the current budget would appear to already have Benton County overextended financially, how can we also take on the cost of the new jail/courthouse/crisis center, which may require a bond issue as high as $100 million?
3. Homelessness. Homelessness is a complex issue that various people have attempted to solve. Efforts by HOPE, the many health-care providers and individuals providing food and shelter are to be commended. Details are hard to obtain, but approximately 40% of the homeless population are neither drug addicted nor mentally ill, but just “down on their luck.” We need to look for ways to give them “a hand up.” Jobs and affordable housing are essential to any long-term solution for these individuals.
MALONE: Houselessness. There is not one solution. Let’s support groups that think short-term and long-term. We prioritized “facilitating sheltering system with project management and coordination” from HOPE Board recommendations.
Benton County can bring together stakeholders and be a conduit for state and federal monies. I’ll continue exploring tiny homes, micro-shelters and manufactured homes.
Safety: We need to build the justice center and the crisis center is to get people the help they need such as education, counseling and treatment that we can’t do because of our current cramped facility. Ninety-five percent of people released from our jail return back into our community. We need a larger correctional facility for the safety and effectiveness of our staff.
Climate and Environment. We are in a climate crisis. The 115-degree days in 2021 should have convinced everyone. This affects every person in our county in such things as water availability and quality, how and what crops we can grow on our farms and in our yards, and the air we breathe. Our job as commissioners is to act as a conduit for trustworthy information, be a role model in our actions and to bring together the best people to help solve each problem.
Coming Wednesday: What is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets and what do you see as the biggest budget challenges?
CANDIDATES Q-and-A PUBLISHED Monday, Oct. 17: How would you define the responsibilities of a county commissioner and what do you believe constitutes appropriate and effective citizen representation? Tuesday, Oct. 18: What do you see as the three biggest issues facing Benton County, and how would you propose these issues be addressed? COMING Wednesday, Oct. 19: What is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets and what do you see as the biggest budget challenges? Thursday, Oct. 20: What is your approach to evaluating land use applications and what, in your view, are the factors that are most important to consider when doing so? Friday, Oct. 21: Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you personally?