Their views were similar, but their presentations weren’t.
Pamela Wev and Peter Roscoe, the candidates for the Clatsop County commission District 3 seat, participated in an election forum Wednesday night at Astoria High School. Neither candidate offered many specific solutions to issues, relying instead on their distinct experience and governing philosophies.
They are running to represent parts of Astoria, Miles Crossing, Jeffers Garden, Lewis and Clark, Youngs River, Olney, Green Mountain and parts of Walluski.
Wev, a land use planner who once served in former Portland Mayor Vera Katz’s administration, mentioned her government experience. She declared her desire for a more open, deliberative form of county governance.
“I would like to address the issues facing the county commission kind of the same way I’ve done most of my public service and my parenting. I like to listen,” she said. “I’d like to bring a different atmosphere to the county commission.”
Roscoe, a former Astoria city councilor and restaurateur, touted his background in local organizations and connections with residents.
“You know, I’m just a guy who grew up here,” he said. “I know the ins and outs of so many people in this community that I feel I can represent the community because of that.
Don’t waste my experience.”
One of the questions posed to candidates centered on homelessness.
Wev said the county’s spearheading of a housing study is an example of how the county could lead on local issues.
“It points out that land use throughout the county — existing, buildable land — exists to meet our housing needs,” she said. “I think homelessness is very closely related to affordable housing and habitation in general.”
Roscoe said he was, for all intents and purposes, homeless in the 1970s when he traveled, hitchhiked and wrote poetry as a “hippie.” He also mentioned his recovery from substance abuse.
“I have a lot of empathy for homeless people, but they’re all unique individuals,” Roscoe said. “And some of them I have more sympathy for more than others.”
The candidates agreed that the county should play the leading role in preparing for a major disaster. Wev mentioned the fact that the main Lewis and Clark fire station sits in a tsunami inundation zone.
“I think that it’s appropriate to look beyond municipal boundaries for a master plan for emergency preparedness,” she said.
The Columbia-Pacific Economic Development District Board of Directors has discussed where people will most likely evacuate to following a disaster, said Roscoe, who serves on the board.
“The individuals need to be educated on how to take care of themselves afterwards, and that’s the county’s role besides a number of infrastructure-type roles,” he said.
The candidates expressed support for local bonds for a new county jail and schools in Astoria and Warrenton. Wev added, though, that the county has failed to properly promote the jail bond and did not hold enough public discussions before referring it to the November ballot.
When asked about his support for enterprise zones, Roscoe said businesses can contribute to the economy through taxes and jobs once tax breaks expire. He also drew a comparison that evoked equal parts humor and confusion.
“As one friend of mine calls, he says, ‘Economy is the great deodorant,’” Roscoe said. “Producing things is what creates a vibrant economy. Finding more ways to tax, tax, tax your way out of a hole is not necessarily a solution that’s creating jobs that are driving productivity.”
Though he said Wednesday night’s format did not allow him to delve into the specifics of his vision for the county, Roscoe mentioned he has organized three forums this month on farming and forestry; arts, events and museums; and restaurants and hospitality.
Wev challenged Roscoe earlier this week to a debate with a neutral moderator, which he said Wednesday that he has accepted. The debate is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Astoria Library.