County Commission candidates focus on economy, local services, taxes: Seat 2: Pete Boucot

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Pete Boucot of Lebanon thinks he can make positive changes in Linn County’s economy while representing the people of the county.

Boucot, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Republican Roger Nyquist for Linn County commissioner position two. Ballots will be mailed on Oct. 17 for the Nov. 4 election.

“I believe the people of Linn County deserve better leadership,” Boucot said. “I care about the people that I live with and that I work with. I care about Linn County and its resources. I care about the people.”

Boucot said he recently talked to a woman from east Linn County, and she had only heard of Commissioner Cliff Wooten.

She had not heard of the other two, he said. “A very important part of my job is to get to all the outlying communities at least once a month.”

He wants to let the people know who he is and let them know he’s concerned about their needs, he said.

“I’m a supportive of business,” Boucot said. “I believe local businesses are the backbone of this county.”

He would like to facilitate bringing businesses, with family wage jobs, health care coverage and retirement, that are respectful to the environment to the county, he said, jobs that afford one spouse the chance to stay home and raise a family.

“We have to protect our resources,” he said. “We have to use our resources. Our children’s children have to live with the decisions we make.”

Boucot wants to focus on farming, he said. It’s one of Linn County’s biggest resources, and he would like to see them grow food that is consumed locally.

Two-thirds of Linn County farms are small farms, he said. They need outlets for produce and livestock. Providing that opportunity would help eliminate the need to bring as much food from out of the area.

“Linn County is one of the biggest producers of sheep in the state,” he said, yet Costco, where Boucot works as a cashier, imports all of its lamb from New Zealand.

“Why are we allowing that to happen?” he asked. Slaughterhouses are not conveniently located, and part of it is unfair competition. To allow a worming medicine to metabolize, U.S. sheep have a 45-day waiting period before slaughtering compared to a five-day period for New Zealand.

New Zealand sheep should have to wait 45 days also, he said. “We need to go to a state certification.”

Boucot also suggests turning to cellulosic ethanol from the forests instead of using foodstuffs, such as corn, for fuel. He proposes using wood from bug-killed trees and other wood waste to produce ethanol in Linn County.

He supports the proposed tax for the Extension Service and 4-H, he said, as well as the Linn Library League’s proposed library district.

Boucot said he plans to do anything he can to assist in getting funding for education. Education can help address a variety of concerns.

“The more educated a population is, the less violent they tend to be,” he said. Education can be directly correlated to solving meth problems and easing the pressure on law enforcement resources.

He supports a system of treating drug addicts rather than incarcerating them, noting that it saved Texas $250 million.

“I want to create a coherent plan for this county,” he said. Linn County has a high unemployment rate, and “we need to create more jobs here in the county. We need to attract more jobs to the county.”

Boucot said he is happy Lowe’s Distribution Center is in Lebanon, but he is concerned about promises made and broken about truck routes, drainage and noise. Those are the kinds of things he’ll watch out for as a commissioner looking for new businesses.

“When a county makes a promise, they need to keep that promise,” he said. “The commissioners aren’t so busy they can’t address the needs of members of their community.”

If his goals aren’t achievable at the county level, then it means he has to lobby for Linn County, he said. “I see myself as an advocate working closely with legislators to let them know what our needs are.”

“It’s about being smart,” he said. “I’m not saying the current administration isn’t smart, but we need to think things out clearly and thoughtfully and make sure what we’re doing is a good long-term fix.

“I don’t have all the answers. I do know that going and talking to the experts and listening to what people have to say is how you get things done.”

Linn County has a great resource of hard-working, skilled, intelligent people, he said. “I want the people to be involved. I want people to know what’s going on at every step of the process.”

Boucot will be available seven days a week for residents, he said. “I belong to the people of the county. I work for them. I’m here to serve them.”

He plans to put partisanship aside and work closely with the other commissioners, he said.

“I’m going to hit the ground running,” he said. He said he will talk to every county department head and learn everything he can about the county with plans to eliminate redundancy and improve efficiency where he can, “working with everyone in the county and letting them tell me what they think we can do to run things more efficiently and cost effectively.”

He has more than 10 years experience working for large corporate structures, he said. He has degrees from Linn-Benton Community College and Oregon State University.

“I’m an excellent communicator,” he said. “I have an ability to get people together and resolve issues.”

He believes in volunteerism and is involved with United Way, he said. “We have a volunteer base in this county. I’m just proud to be part of it.”

Linn County is the best place he has lived, which include Benton County and Yakima County, Wash.