Former Commissioner Will Tucker to fill vacant board seat
March 31, 2021
Will Tucker will be returning to the Linn County Board of Commissioners after a three month hiatus, filling the seat of Commissioner John Lindsey who died of cancer on March 9.
Tucker, who lives near Waterloo, will complete the two years remaining on Lindsey’s term of office.
Tucker, who served three terms on the board, was selected Tuesday morning by commissioners Roger Nyquist and Sherrie Sprenger from a list of five finalists who were vetted by the Linn County Republican Party.
Other finalists were Rex Watkins and Ashlie Haase of Albany, Greg Nervino of Lebanon and Gary Betts of Sweet Home.
A nomination convention was held Sunday, March 28, in which 66 Linn County Republican Party Precinct Committee members heard five-minute presentations from seven applicants for the position. Following the speeches, ballots were cast, counted, and verified by a volunteer delegation of officers from the Marion County Republican party to ensure that the process was fair and unbiased, as agreed upon by the committee.
Tucker did not run for re-election in November because he was concerned about a family member’s health situation, which has been resolved.
Nyquist said all of the candidates would bring positive attributes to the position, but Tucker would be able to hit the ground running due to his prior board experience.
“Will has the skillset, knowledge and track record,” Nyquist said.
Nyquist noted that Tucker is well versed on the $1 billion breach of contract lawsuit the county and dozens of other taxing districts brought against the Oregon Department of Forestry in 2019. The counties and districts won, but the case is under appeal.
Tucker was also instrumental in the county developing an emergency shelter at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center for families that lost their homes in wildfires in September. More than 700 people and 1,500 animals were served.
Tucker also has supported the county’s effort to provide COVID-19 tests and to host vaccination clinics on a weekly basis. Tucker was volunteering at a vaccination clinic at the fairgrounds as the commissioners considered the board vacancy issue.
Commissioner Sprenger, who was elected to Tucker’s former board seat, echoed Nyquist’s comments.
“I take this extraordinarily seriously,” Sprenger said. “Within six hours after John died, people were calling me about wanting to be appointed to his seat.”
The commissioners had 10 days after the list of finalists was certified by the Clerk’s Office to make an appointment, or someone would be selected by Gov. Kate Brown.
“I am proud and honored to be selected,” Tucker said after the meeting. “It is bittersweet to replace John, but it is something I love doing and I’m excited about doing more of it.”
Tucker’s term will begin as soon as he takes the oath of office.
Following is information from resumes submitted by the other candidates:
Betts, a resident of Sweet Home for most of his life, is a retired local businessman who owned two local wood products companies.
He served as a board member for Associated Oregon Loggers for 12 years, two as president, and was named “Logger of the Year” twice. He also served on the AOL Political Action Committee, including as chair. He is a member of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association.
A 1965 graduate of Sweet Home Union High School, Betts attended Central Oregon Community College in Fend until he was drafted into the Army in 1967, serving overseas from 1967-69. He was honorably discharged as a sergeant.
He was co-owner of More Logs from 1975 to 2000, employing as many as 60 people during that period. He owned More Fibre Inc. from 2000 to 2016.
He and his wife have been married for 46 years and have two sons, both graduates of Oregon State University, and eight grandchildren. They live on a tree farm in the Foster area.
Haase has been a teacher at Calapooia and Timber Ridge middle schools in Albany since 2001, when she graduated from Western Oregon University. She earned a master's degree in education, with a minor in English as a second language, two years later.
She has been involved in various school district planning and project groups and has organized events, including an eighth-grade Washington D.C. Trip for three years. She has been involved in instruction and intervention efforts for students experiencing or at risk of disabilities, mental illness, drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, bullying, etc.
Nervino is a businessman and firearms instructor who has been active in the Lebanon community as a board member for the Lebanon Community Foundation, past president of the Lebanon Optimist Club, a committee member for Lebanon tourism, and a past member of the city of Lebanon Parks Commission. He has been certified as an executive manager with the Oregon
Department of Public Safety Standards and Training and the Nevada Private Investigators Licensing Board as an armed private security provider. He is an NRA-certified firearms instructor and works as a firearms instructor and range safety officer for a Lebanon indoor shooting range.
He was a deputy sheriff for 22 years in Plumas County, Calif., where he also worked as a lineman and line superintendent for a power company, and was district manager for Consumers Power from 1995 to 2010, when he retired. He operates GN Security, providing “independent private security,” in Lebanon.
He earned an associate of arts degree in administration of justice from Feather River College in Quincy, Calif. , and has had management training from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Watkins is a local businessman and swimming coach who has served on the county Board of Property Tax Appeals, on the Greater Albany Public Schools Bond Oversight Committee, on the Governmental Affairs Committee for the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as in leadership positions in Oregon swimming organizations. He was named national high school Girls Coach of the Year in 2010 for his achievements at Crescent Valley High School, where he has been head coach since 2001. He also has been head coach for the Albany Aquatics Association since 2007.
A graduate of Philomath High School and the University of Oregon, where he majored in rehtoric and communication with a minor in geography, he operates Blue Star Carpet Care in Albany and Northwest Investment Management, a firm that manages more than 160 rental units in the Mid-Willamette Valley.
He is an elder at Oakville Presbyterian Church in Shedd and lists other interests including “classic cars and trucks, modern motorcycles, camping and hunting.”
In other business, the commissioners:
• Approved a utility easement for the city of Brownsville across the northern portion of the Linn County Historical Museum property. The city is working on its wastewater system.
• Approved a $15,200 refund for the Knife River Corporation due to a cape of $25,000 on Construction Excise Taxes that benefit the Greater Albany Public Schools. The county collects the tax for the school district.
• Proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. In 2019, more than 5,000 Linn County children were living in poverty, almost 6,000 experienced food insecurity and 1,180 were homeless. There were 533 cases of child abuse.