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 third 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 third 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 is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets and what do you see as the biggest budget challenges?

MALONE: I have years of experience developing and implementing budgets for our tree farm. The experience has taught me the importance of setting priorities and trying to get the most out of equipment that I already own.

I have learned a lot being on the Linn-Benton Community College Budget Committee for about 20 years and have to make some hard choices when economic downturns impacted state dollars.

The biggest challenges to our current budget is to keep existing programs adequately funded while trying to fund newer programs for newer challenges such as finding the funding to help our homeless population.

KUGHN: Benton County’s Biennium Budget for 2021-2023 is complex and is 279 pages in length. Currently, I am not as familiar with the details of this entire budget as my opponent.

However, my father always told me “If you watch the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.” Following this advice has served me well over the years as I have successfully operated five businesses.

It is concerning that the current budget relies heavily on funding from outside sources, such as the $18 million in federal dollars supplied by the American Rescue Plan. The 2021-2023 biennium budget calls for spending approximately $363 million, but of this total, the general revenues make up only approximately $74 million!

How will we continue to pay salaries for all the newly hired health care workers when the federal dollars are no longer available? Can Benton County and Corvallis do anything to make housing more affordable? Fewer regulations and fees that discourage building of affordable housing would be helpful.

When elected commissioner, I will certainly apply a conservative viewpoint when a new budget is put together for Benton County.

Coming Thursday: 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?

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?
Wednesday, Oct. 19: What is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets and what do you see as the biggest budget challenges?
COMING
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?

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.