Clatsop County’s economy is among the topics being discussed by the candidates for the county board of commissioners, including District 5 hopefuls Lianne Thompson and Dale Barrett, who want to represent South County.

The candidates expressed their hopes and goals for Clatsop County’s economy at a forum April 22 at the Astoria Golf & Country Club. The event was hosted by the Clatsop Association of Realtors and attended by more than 40 residents.

Barrett, a professional land surveyor, said his vision for the county is to foster more family-wage jobs. “None of my four children can get jobs here,” he said.

He told the audience his son wanted to stay in Seaside so badly that he commutes to a job in Portland. Barrett said he wants to create opportunities through education and new business, so youth can stay employed in Clatsop County.

The county needs to make sure companies have what they need to stay within the community, Barrett said.

Thompson said her vision for jobs comes from her experience working in the private and public sector.

“When we have a job that fulfills us, when we have a job that gives us joy and satisfaction, it’s a whole lot easier to make money and have livable communities,” Thompson said.

Thompson mentioned taking timber and making a value-added product, such as structurally integrated panels that would allow for more affordable housing.

“That’s a little outside the box, and it may not be feasible yet, but it’s ideas like that we want to grow to fruition,” she said.

Questions for the candidates also touched on land use and broader goals for Clatsop County.

Thompson, who sits on the Clatsop County Planning Commission, said she has seen the process be time consuming and adversarial. “I’d rather we be able to collaborate at neighborhood levels, so that we could work to make this a more efficient process,” she said.

As a planner, Barrett said he has presented planning proposals to every city within the county and cities in adjoining counties. He said good decisions can be made when considering the rules and understanding them.

Voters have begun receiving their mail ballots from the Clatsop County Elections Office. The ballots are due back to the office no later than 8 p.m. May 20. Postmarks do not count.

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