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Thursday
Oct112018

Time for New Young Blood in County Government

 

By Marilyn Kittelman

The political atmosphere today is ugly and violent. Since President Trump was elected the hatred has risen to a whole new level. People no longer make any attempt to hide their true feelings, which may be the only benefit – you know where you stand.

It all began ramping up the night of Trump’s victory. I clearly remember in Portland, a group of thugs who went to a high end car sales lot and began smashing car windows and vandalized vehicles to show just how unhappy they were with the outcome of the election. Never mind that Trump had no connection to the owner. But somehow the vandals felt totally justified to express their unhappiness by destroying private property.

I believed that after those adult children threw their temper tantrums, arrests would be made and people would go back to living their lives, but that wasn’t to be. This week social media has been inundated with photos of people having been violently attacked for their political positions. A man was beaten up for wearing a Trump hat and a lady was shoved down stairs. People were forced to leave restaurants simply for expressing their support of a sitting President.

This week, Johnny MacKay from Vancouver, Washington, left his Nissan Titan pickup parked at a bar overnight. His truck, which had Trump stickers on the bumper, exploded during the night, completely totaling the vehicle after it was engulfed in flames. The vandal spray painted TRUMP on the side of the truck prior to setting it on fire. If you don’t agree with the left, they will retaliate – no one on their side is suggesting tolerance anymore.

When I was Commissioner things were nasty. A man delivered black prunes to a commissioner meeting (I called him up to the podium and thanked him). I received hate mail and death threats. And for several years after leaving office, there was a hate website in my honor. The worst was the haters following my kids around, publishing videos of them and adding nasty comments. But those pranks and negativity certainly never rose to the level that elected officials are dealing with today.

So why would someone run for office?

That is a question I was able to ask three different candidates for the position of County Commissioner, in my office in the past two weeks. I visited with them and was having trouble deciding who I would vote for until yesterday. And now I can tell you that I will be voting for Alek Skarlatos.

There are two main reasons why I decided to announce my support of Skarlatos. The first was my comfort level after having talked with him personally. I knew his background, but had never talked with him. The second reason, and just as important, was my discomfort from the good old boys closing ranks around his opponent. First the positive…

You probably know that Alek, along with two of his buddies, on a train to Paris, stopped a gunman who could have caused a lot of death and destruction. Because of Alek’s bravery and willingness to do what needed to be done in a dangerous situation, he was awarded the U.S. Army Soldier’s Medal from the President of the United States. He also received France’s highest decoration, the Legion of Honour.

There were many people on the train, heck there are many people every day that are in situations where they could stop something bad from happening (as in all of those situations I mentioned previously regarding the terrorists attacking people they don’t agree with since the election), but most people just don’t want to get involved. They won’t do what is necessary to fix things.

Remember what Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Alek engaged, he didn’t have to, but he did.

Some have criticized Alek because of his age, but that too has benefits. Courage is most often demonstrated in young men, not old. The older we get, the more we safety up, that’s just human nature. In the political climate we are in now, I believe his age may be beneficial, he isn’t young in life experience.

Alek said he wants to use his position to advocate for training people to work in industry. He has met with business owners who can’t find enough properly trained drivers, welders, and other tradesmen to fill the need. What a benefit it would be to have local training, family wage jobs and fill needs in our own community.

I also admire Alek’s wiliness to join the Oregon Army Nation Guard. He could have gone to business school or worked his way up the corporate ladder, but instead he gained real life experience defending our country. He was deployed to Afghanistan and the acting adjutant general of Oregon referred to Skarlatos as “a true citizen soldier who displayed the courage each of us would hope to find in ourselves.”

 

The engagement on the train drew a lot of attention which opened doors for him to star in a movie (as himself) directed by Clint Eastwood and to participate in a season of Dancing with the Stars. You might ask how that prepares him for a position as Douglas County Commissioner, and I will tell you. The importance of the contacts Alek made is unmeasurable. The number one job of a Commissioner is to advocate for our issues in front of people who have the power to do something about them.

Whether that is lobbying back in Congress to get more timber out of the woods, or bring training and job opportunities to Roseburg, the exposure Alek has had and the caliber of people he has met will open doors for him that no current commissioner, and certainly not to any other candidate, has.

And now the negative…

This past week Commissioner Tim Freeman made front page news for personally funding a poll to benefit the other commissioner candidate. Today, Commissioner Chris Boice wrote a letter publically endorsing the same candidate. In Boice’s endorsement letter, he states that he will work with whoever is elected and that Commissioner Freeman will do the same. There is a reason why Commissioners are not legally allowed to discuss county business in private and that doing so constitutes an illegal meeting. Can you imagine the danger if these two commissioners colluded to elect the third commissioner?

Having three commissioners working in collusion is not a good thing. To keep a balanced perspective, there needs to be three independent thinkers working for the best interest of the county, not furthering an agenda created behind closed doors.

If you are having trouble deciding who to vote for, pick up the phone and call them personally. I believe that will do it for you.

Marilyn Kittelman was elected to the Douglas County, Oregon, Board of County Commissioners in November 2, 2004. She served four years. Her greatest accomplishment, while in office, was to pass an ordinance making it illegal in Douglas County to seize private property for increased taxes or anything except the strictest interpretation of the Constitution. Marilyn and her husband John raised and home schooled their three children on their ranch in Yoncalla.

 

Angus, the oldest, has an Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Special Education from OSU and will attain his PhD from U of O in the summer of 2018. Sage has her Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees in Industrial & Mechanical Engineering and is a PhD Candidate to OSU, first year. McCrae has a year of college and is currently working full time on the ranch, his help has been an essential part of his parents success. John trains Cutting Horses and renovates neglected homes to once again show pride of ownership . Marilyn owns Cutting Edge Real Estate, a thriving company with five brokers and sales that continue to exceed each previous year. She is President of the Million Dollar Club for the 3rd year and has personally sold over $71 million of real estate.