Cascade Views Podcast

Patti Adair - The Role of a County Commissioner

October 27, 2022 Michael Sipe - Central Oregon Leadership Discussions
Patti Adair - The Role of a County Commissioner
Cascade Views Podcast
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Cascade Views Podcast
Patti Adair - The Role of a County Commissioner
Oct 27, 2022
Michael Sipe - Central Oregon Leadership Discussions

Patti Adair is a fourth generation Oregon native who grew up on a ranch near Heppner. She's a proud University of Oregon Duck who graduated with a degree in History. Patti later completed her CPA in Washington State. Commissioner Adair's current memberships and affiliations are many but just a few include Association of Oregon Counties, Legislative Committee District 2 Delegate, Central Oregon Health Council, Central Oregon Area Commission on Transportation, Deschutes County Behavioral Health Advisory Committee Liaison and Project Wildfire. Patti is running for re election in November.

Show Notes Transcript

Patti Adair is a fourth generation Oregon native who grew up on a ranch near Heppner. She's a proud University of Oregon Duck who graduated with a degree in History. Patti later completed her CPA in Washington State. Commissioner Adair's current memberships and affiliations are many but just a few include Association of Oregon Counties, Legislative Committee District 2 Delegate, Central Oregon Health Council, Central Oregon Area Commission on Transportation, Deschutes County Behavioral Health Advisory Committee Liaison and Project Wildfire. Patti is running for re election in November.

Unknown Speaker  0:07  
Oregon is number two in the nation. For number of homeless. We're number two in the nation for addiction. And unfortunately, we know we're number 54 residential treatment beds. So I don't want Central Oregon to turn into Portland.

Narrator  0:24  
Welcome to cascade views a discussion with Central Oregon leaders. Your host is Michael SIPE, local business and community leader Best Selling Author of the Avada principle and candidate for Oregon State Representative for House District 53, which encompasses southern Redman sisters tremolo in northern bend. The purpose of these discussions is to share the views and insights of local leaders from a variety of community sectors on a range of timely and important regional and state issues. With that, now, here's your host, Michael SIPE.

Michael Sipe  0:58  
Thanks for joining us on cascade views. My name is Michael SIPE, and I'll be your host.  My guest today is Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair, Patti's, a fourth generation Oregon native who grew up on a ranch near Heppner. She's a proud University of Oregon duck who graduated with a degree in history. Patti later completed her CPA in Washington state commissioner Adairs current memberships and affiliations are many but just a few include association of Oregon counties legislative committee district to delegate Central Oregon Health Council, Central Oregon area commission on transportation, the chair of that Deschutes County Behavioral Health Advisory Committee liaison and Project Wildfire. Patti's running for re election in November, after her experiences serving Deschutes County for the last four years, I thought it would be valuable for us all to hear perspectives on the future of Central Oregon, and some of the important issues we face. So Patty, welcome to the show.

Unknown Speaker  1:53  
Thank you, Michael, for having me today.

Michael Sipe  1:56  
Thanks for taking time to be with us today, I really want to focus on some key county issues. But before we jump into those, how about giving us just a little more of your background, and some of the skills and experiences that you found helpful over the last four years in your job as county commissioner?

Unknown Speaker  2:15  
Well, one of the I think the most important skills I have is that I actually pass the CPA exam in the dark ages as I refer them. So I use my accounting skills on a daily basis for Deschutes. County, from you know, one cost allocation to the next. And it really has been very worthwhile. And another important part of my history is that I raised a couple million dollars for charity. I did a couple school fundraisers at the same time while I was building a house. And you always ask a busy person in order to accomplish things that you want to do. It was always my pleasure to raise money. I raised a million dollars for St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. It you know, I was always doing something besides working and raising my, my my boys. So I had a lot of fun. But I was I'm really proud of my record. And then one thing I think I've brought to the job in Deschutes County, is the fact that the number one feeder County for Deschutes. County is Los Angeles County. They haven't been live in LA for, believe it or not 31 years. And by coming here after 31 years, I was so happy to come home at you know, coming home for generation Oregonian. It's where my family has, and it was amazing. But you know, a lot of people that are moving from LA County are actually young people. So I always find it fascinating to see what inspired them to move away from LA so quickly, and come up to our beautiful, beautiful central Oregon.

Michael Sipe  3:55  
Wow, those are interesting points. But you know, we should maybe back up just a little bit. And because some of our listeners might not be all that familiar with how county government works, and the actual role of a county commissioner. So would you give us a quick summary of how the counties organized and when like, what does the county commissioner do anyway?

Unknown Speaker  4:15  
Oh, Michael, it's a quick summary. We have 22 different departments. It's really not a quick summary. It is a incredibly complex business operation with over 1000 employees. And, you know, are your roads clear? Are your roads in great shape? The health department where were the public health authority for Deschutes County. We oversee so many different things we keep track of building building permits. In fact, right now we are citing a new landfill for Deschutes County. That was something that I worried I've been worried about for the last couple of years. COVID really set that behind. But now it seems like we're we're looking ahead and hopefully that will be done in the next six years, barring all protesting, but Deschutes County residents are wonderful, and how their county commissioners respond to what their needs are. You know, we are we are the main source of a lot of quality control in Deschutes. County, our court system, the fact that we just got two new judges, I mean, the opportunities as a county commissioner are always varied in it is a 24/7 job, which I actually appreciate, appreciate immensely

Michael Sipe  5:34  
1000 employees, and all of that was I can't remember what's the budget for the county, it must be a lot of money.

Unknown Speaker  5:40  
Oh, it is a lot of money. It's about half a billion, no, a lot of money flows in and out. But it is, it's a big business. And the other fact that thoroughly keeps me on my toes is the fact that we're growing so fast. We're the fastest growing county in the state. And, you know, we've got the highway systems that we have to worry about, such as highway 97, we have so many different factors that are always making Deschutes. County, at the forefront of what we can do just as adding more housing, you know, with, with our lack of affordable housing, our lack of workforce housing, and those issues are always at the top of my agenda. What can we do to make it better for people that live here? And actually, if you live here, and work here, I you know, it's important that those two go together, we've got to keep working and living together on the same breath.

Michael Sipe  6:36  
So I make sure I heard you, right, you said half a billion with a B, right? I did. Yeah. And and that's growing, right. It's the the, the amount of, well, the funding for the county primarily comes from property taxes, right. And because we have more people moving in, and the price of property is going up, the even though you're holding the rates down, the overall budget is growing, right?

Unknown Speaker  7:01  
The budget is growing, yes. And the property tax budget does grow even with with Commissioner votes of keeping those rates down, just because of appreciation of the value of your home. Your your bill is going to go up, though county portion is about 17% of the total bill. And we've always been incredibly respectful that it is your money. And we must spend our portion as wisely as possible.

Michael Sipe  7:28  
Thank you for that. You've been on the job for years now. So what are you most pleased that you've been able to accomplish in that time?

Unknown Speaker  7:35  
Well, besides keeping the property rate at that six cents less per 1000, the fact that we have two new circuit court judges has made an enormous difference for all kinds of legal action in the county. It's not just the court systems, but everything seems to be flowing so much better. For people that have you know, they're filing reports, they need answers back, things are being answered at a much, much quicker basis. And it's quite worthwhile. We had not had a new judge since 2003. Our population had gone up 55% and by adding these two new judges increased our capacity 28%. So we're hearing from people in the community that it's really, really been wonderful. To cite the president of the Redmond chamber Sean Neary Sean had told me a couple months ago, gosh, Patty, you can really feel the difference things I file now are responded to so much quicker. And that's that's really what we're all about is making Deschutes County as efficient and on resident friendly as possible.

Michael Sipe  8:46  
You know, there's anger recall this, this judge project was not an easy one. Right. And and not every county got additional judges in my right.

Unknown Speaker  8:57  
Oh, Michael, you're so right. For the first time in the history of Oregon. No other county got a judge. And we need to shift county received to so it was a first on many levels. I had about 1000 people helping me between sending postcards, and phone calls and emails to 14 legislators and the governor's office, everyone in Salem, New Deschutes County was due. And that's really what it took was, you know, for that appointment of two new judges, thank goodness, we received two new judges. And they they're working hard, and it's great to have them. In fact, I serve on jury duty recently. And I was in one of the courtrooms of the new judge.

Michael Sipe  9:40  
Well, then, Oh, yes. Well done. You had one, quote unquote, normal year and 2019. I'm thinking back over the four years of your service and see had one normal year in 2019. And then you've served us through the last two and a half years or nearly three years of the pandemic. That had to have been challenging. Talk to us just a little Uh, about what the commissioners had to navigate over the last couple of years.

Unknown Speaker  10:06  
Yes. Okay, I did have a normal year in 19. But that's, that was my first year of the job where I had to go to Salem twice in the same week, every month, in order to go to county college for state commissioners. It's a wonderful program. But we will also have our legislative meetings in person, which, as I understand that they're much more effective when you can do things in person. So had that in 19. And then in 20, in what is it March of 2020, we had COVID hit. Well, remember, we had the lockdown, we were going to flatten the curve. And we were so worried in Deschutes. County, financially, what was this going to do to our tourist industry? What was it going to do to small business. And when we finally were able to get our county plan together to meet the governor's measures, in order to open it back up on a limited basis with business, I even drove the plan to Salem, just to tell the governor, hey, we we need to get back, we need to get back to work. So that was one of my important messages for the state for the residents of Deschutes. County that I felt it was really important to get back. I know, the people notice just the little things that make a difference. And then we had our budget in May of 2020. Now what do you do, we don't really know where it's going, we went actually incredibly conservative with that budget, a lot of departments kept their, their employee scheduling down, we just tried to be as conservative as possible. And then when our tourism industry actually kind of blew up, we had more people coming here and staying because they were they were remote, they could rent a house in let's say, Son river, in the county somewhere and be remote and yet be here in our joy in the beauty. And so, therefore our room tax revenue took off in 2020. And it continued on in 2021. So, you know, it's kind of the contrast, but we've had a lot of people move here, they had their second home here, and they actually found that they felt much safer being in Deschutes County. So it was always a challenge. But we tried to do our best, you know, we had the max fat vaccination center at the fairgrounds. We just always tried to be respectful and keep people up to date.

Michael Sipe  12:34  
Well, in the middle of that, you probably noticed that the last few years have been extremely contentious socially and politically. What are your thoughts briefly on shaking off the divisions and rebuilding unity here in Central Oregon, you know, Can we can we get back to what it used to be like, which was really awesome, and a great sense of community,

Unknown Speaker  12:55  
I really feel that we can get back there. I believe that as a county commissioner, I'm here to serve everyone, I do my very best to talk to everyone, call them back, answer their emails. And it would be wonderful to have more civility on a daily basis. We could really, we could really use that. And I feel like some days are a lot better than other days. But I do feel that we need to remember we're all people, we all have read blog. And let's just be a lot more polite than maybe what sometimes happens in today's world.

Michael Sipe  13:38  
Well said, let's turn to some big issues facing the county. Let's start with one that's on the mind of everyone in the region. That's homelessness. So give us your thoughts on the origins and elements of the problem, the magnitude of the problem and maybe a couple ideas on how to address it. Do all that in like 30 seconds.

Unknown Speaker  13:55  
Oh, oh, that's exactly what I was thinking. You're gonna tell me. Okay, Patti, in 30 seconds or less? Well, I did have the privilege of serving on the homeless panel. At caldera High School in April, there was two different events, I got to work with Chief Krantz and Megan Perkins. And also, Alan Evans, who represents the helping hand program out of Portland. Now, Alan's program is going into six counties. And he as being someone who was homeless, understands what it is, you need to treat people with compassion. And as Alan said, not everyone is going to respond to what needs to be done. But then again, Alan also recognizes that let's say 65 70% of the people that are homeless, have substance use disorder and or mental illness. So each person should be approached with compassion with individuality. We, we need to start helping people more I'm so proud of our Veterans Village what It's done. It has already graduated six veterans from the village. And it's a transitional program. Hopefully, most people will be able to transition to their own housing in, let's say, less than two years. And I'm so proud that we've already had six people move on from there, it's, it's a really wonderful start, we have a lot of capacity that we've added to our county in the last year or two, between Bethlehem, Bethlehem in and the lighthouse in Bend, what shepherd's House does I mean, the programs are here, we just need to recognize that there is a lot of substance use disorder and mental illness. And that's why personally, I have been trying to engage the temporary use of dirige. It's half empty. And unfortunately, real we recently collect Peters, who was running the state prison association was promoted to a national position. So I'm waiting to hear who the new interim director is of the state, and then go from there. But you know, we need somewhere where people can actually get help. Oregon is number two in the nation, for number of homeless are number two in the nation for addiction. And unfortunately, we know we're number 54 residential treatment beds. So I don't want Central Oregon to turn into Portland. And I feel like there are lots of things that we can do. And I believe we are doing them. We do have our executive director of our homeless programs, stepping into the position on September 19. And I am looking forward to working with Cheyenne in the near future.

Michael Sipe  16:46  
So let's talk about measure 110 for a second. Maybe fill us in a little bit on on what it is and maybe what's what's going wrong with it, and then what you think ought to be done about it.

Unknown Speaker  16:58  
Yes, thank you so much, Mike, for that question on major 110. It's been really the national disaster, putting Oregon on the map of legalizing all those drugs. We definitely were on the map now. Our overdose rates have gone sky high. According to a circuit court judge in Deschutes. County, the bodies are piling up. According to a city councilor from Eugene that I spoke with a week ago, they have people dying in the street. So we're seeing the effects and measure 110. And of course, we've got the Oregon Health Authority, which is incredibly complicated, and unable to get anything done in any kind of a speedy process. And so the help that was supposed to be out there for people is just now coming available. But then again, how many years will it take to build something, as someone who's worked in government for a mere four years, I see how long everything takes the veteran's village and band took over a year, it took over a year. And I was thinking we could have that done in three months, because it was just simple, simple cabins, 15 cabins and a triple wide trailer but know that took took over a year to put that all together actually probably two years when you count the start date. So now we have measure 110. And we have no one signing up to get help, because of course there were not any penalties. You know, when you pay $100 fee, and you walk, that's what they do, or they don't even pay the $100 fee. The number of people signing up is is frightening. It's not working, is not working. And then the other thing that, to me is incredibly worrisome for our state is the number of people that are moving from elsewhere in the country to come to Oregon for the illegal quantities of drugs that we now allow. They're coming in and guess what, they come here and they can't find any place to live. So then that means that they become homeless too. It's it's, it's frightening what it is done, and I am all for reversing that measure. I feel that just you know, that's that's really what we have to do. And we've got to change the law as soon as possible. I'm hoping they when you join the legislature next spring, next February, March, April, that we really put the direction and measure intent so that we stop attracting all the druggies of the country. We have to do that we really have to do that because we have such an enormous problem. Remember, we're number we're never fit DEA in the nation for residential treatment beds 50. We only have 50 states, folks, we are last. And this. This is such a it's a horrible thing that's happened. And I feel it's time for people to take a new direction. And I'm really pleased to see that there is not there's part of bipartisan support, which is rather rare in Oregon and there is bipartisan support to change the direction law enforcement has been removed from the equation, and they've got to get back in the equation. So, you know, Can we can we make a difference? I believe we can. But we really need to step on and and step on it as soon as we possibly can. Oh,

Michael Sipe  20:46  
Patti, this has been great. As we wrap up today, we've talked an awful lot about government. But we as individual citizens also have a job to do as well to make our county the best it can be. What are your recommendations for how people can get involved? How can we serve? And how can we make a significant difference for good in Central Oregon.

Unknown Speaker  21:08  
A significant difference for good isn't that that's a, that's really a thought that I feel more people should take. And actually I've had a lot of calls from people that are stepping up for different county positions, we normally post positions that are available. In fact, the other day, I had a call from a man who had been working in the police department, but his prior background was in mortgages and financing. And one of the most important committees that I love in Deschutes. County is our facilities review committee. And it just so happens that this man has the background in order to apply for the financing position for that group. It's only seven people. But they can make an amazing difference on all of our capital projects. So, you know, look, look where you have some expertise, we just filled a position for the audit committee was someone that is right there at the top, as far as editing goes, and he had been here for six years, and really felt like this was the time that he wanted to, he loves it here, he is so appreciative. And he's somebody that moved here from Los Angeles County. So he's very happy to be here. And, you know, I was really happy when I saw his name that he had applied for that position, you know, look for things that you can do. I mean, we have one of the most compassionate communities in the state, I believe, I just stopped my sleep in heavenly peace, their program on Saturday, where they were building bunk beds, thank you to the generosity of Home Depot. And they were building bunk beds, and they actually had those projects, those bunk beds built by 130. Amazing, they thought it was going to take all day, but with the crowd of people attending, and with the enthusiasm and the workforce, you know, they they're getting the job done. It's It's so wonderful to be surrounded by people that really do care and really do know that they can make a difference. And, you know, find a project that you love, just like Habitat for Humanity. Their program is amazing. And the county has been part of funding for the bend, Redman for sunrise will actually the pine. And for Sisters, we have really been behind habitats program in order to ensure that they have more land to do more building for a more of our community. And when those homes are built, the wonderful news is that families stay together. Children graduate from high school. I mean, just the blessings from that program, just they they don't end they just continue on. So I'm really thankful that there are opportunities everywhere to be a compassionate volunteer in Central Oregon.

Michael Sipe  24:03  
So good. Well, thanks, you're running for what you're, you're you've got more than a full time job. As a county commissioner, you're also running for office. And, and I can hear from the things that that people are calling you and wanting you to, to respond as you say that you always do. And I know that to be true. So let's just wrap up here. How can people find out more about your campaign and your policy ideas? And how can we help you in your campaign?

Unknown Speaker  24:31  
Oh, thank you, Mike. Thank so much. Well, please go to my website, Patty, and it's number four, y o And please check out my website. And then the other thing I always love to share is my cell phone. It's 541-904-5378 I try and give my card out every day wherever I am. Saved my number. I always tell people you just don't know how I can help you I help with road issues, I help with irrigation issues, well, issues of the areas where I can help are never ending. And that's why I really love my job. I feel like people need their government to serve them. And it's always wonderful when you call someone back. And you can actually hear the joy and the joy and the surprise in their voice, that you cared enough to call them back. So those are, those are kind of ways to get a hold of me. You know, either one is wonderful, but just know that I really would love to hear from you. And whatever I can do to help, I will do my utmost

Michael Sipe  25:39  
that he has been great having you on the show. My main takeaway is not just what I heard today, but how I've experienced you over the four years that you've been in office, and that is that your, your tireless, you your energy is amazing and your ability to to deal with so many different challenges all at once and still have a personal touch with with anyone who reaches out anyone you meet is really quite extraordinary. So thank you for your tireless service, your hard work all over our county, and I'm grateful as is everyone in the county. I appreciate your time today. And I appreciate your message.

Unknown Speaker  26:20  
Thank you my goal and let's just hope we can reverse measure 110 as soon as possible so that Oregon can stay the Oregon that we we love and appreciate. So

Michael Sipe  26:33  
we'll get you elected. I'll get elected and we'll go after measure 110 For sure. My guest today has been Patty Adair. You can learn more about patty and her campaign at Patty for That's Patty the number for Thanks for tuning in.

Narrator  26:50  
Thanks for listening to cascade views with Michael SIPE. To find out more about Mike the upcoming election the key issues he's focused on in his campaign to represent Central Oregon and Salem as a state representative. Visit www dot a voice for Central that's www dot a voice for Central You can get your own copy of Michael SIPE best selling book the Avada And finally, please vote in the upcoming election. Your Voice Matters