Volunteers are gathering signatures to place a measure on the November ballot to increase the number of Deschutes County commissioners from three to five. The chief petitioner for Represent Deschutes says having more commissioners will improve decision-making in the rapidly growing county.
“We basically have two people running the county. Only need two to have a quorum,” said chief petitioner John Heylin. “I just think we need more heads in the room, especially with how unpopular some of their decisions have been.”
Heylin, who co-owns the Unofficial Logging Co. bar in downtown Bend, started the signature drive to get the measure before voters this fall.
“We are looking to get 100 volunteers to get 100 signatures in 100 days. That’s more signatures than we are going to need,” Heylin said. “We have to get 6,581 signatures, but some will be invalid because (someone) didn’t sign their signature the correct way or put the date wrong. So we are shooting for something like 8,000 signatures.”
Heylin says unpaid volunteer signature gatherers will stand on sidewalks in front of coffee shops and libraries and at public events like Winterfest, asking for the signatures of registered voters in Deschutes County. Signature gathering events will also be held every Monday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Unofficial Logging Co., 910 NW Harriman St.
“When I first announced I was exploring this idea, a lot of people reached out because they saw the dysfunction in the county government in the sense that some of the budgets are going way overboard,” Heylin said. “Thornbugh was approved, which pretty much everybody is upset about. The commissioners voted for themselves to get a higher pay raise, which a lot of people are upset about because they are already having a hard time staffing 911 services.”
If his petition drive and ballot measure are successful, Heylin believes the costs of two more elected county commissioners will be paid through better decision-making and budget management.
You can find the petition here, where you can print it out and mail it in.