On Thursday, Sep. 22 the City Club of Corvallis held an open forum with candidates for the Benton County Commission at Old World Deli. This upcoming November, voters will choose from five candidates for two seats on the commission, and strangely two hopefuls bowed out of the debate, Paul Cauthorn (R) and Jerry Jackson (R).
According to organizers, both candidates had agreed to the debate, and then withdrew only days before. Jackson, who also chairs the county Republican Central Committee, said in social media posts that he objected to the moderator and having to debate opponents one-on-one, as well as to the venue. Cauthorn added that he believes voters have already made up their minds.
Odds-on-favorites Xan Augerot (D), a first time candidate for the Commission, and incumbent Annabelle Jaramillo (D), both showed alongside Tim Dehne (G). On the Corvallis-Albany Bike path, all agreed the project has benefits, though Augerot raised concerns about the costs and feasibility given the County’s current infrastructure needs. All agreed that the jail needs replacement, though Dehne was the one supporter of spending to retrofit the current courthouse — discussion as of late from the County has centered on building a comprehensive justice center, while relegating the current courthouse to a museum, given its unsuitability in an earthquake.
On affordable housing, Jaramillo and Augerot expressed that state land use laws limit the County’s options, and Dehne spoke to the idea of being friendlier to off-grid housing. Answering about the County’s earthquake readiness, both Augerot and Jaramillo centered on plans currently in place, Dehne focused on building community-wide impetus for individual preparedness. Jaramillo made short work of a question about the County’s PERS funding, indicating that preparations have long been in place.
About 70 attended the free event, which was formatted as a town hall with most questions coming from attendees, and OSU Political Science Professor Ed Weber moderated.
By Kara Beu