ONTARIO — Harney County Commissioner Mark Owens was unanimously appointed to fill the Oregon House District 60 vacancy during a meeting of fellow commissioners from the five counties included in the district at Treasure Valley Community College on Tuesday. Owens said his current plan is to be sworn in some time next week.
Owens replaces Lynn Findley who was appointed to the District 30 Senate position two weeks ago through a similar process.
Owens, a farmer, was nominated for the position on Saturday by Republican Precinct Persons from Malheur, Harney, Grant, Baker and Lake counties at a meeting at TVCC. Other nominees were Tim Smith, also from Harney County, and Tom Van Diepen, of Baker County.
Only part of Lake County is within District 60.
Owens was the only one of the three candidates to show up for Tuesday’s session, but he proceeded through the agenda, making an opening statement and answering a few questions from the commissioners before the roll call vote. Lake County Commissioners participated by phone.
In his opening remarks, Owens said his focus is to be a strong voice for the eastern Oregon, particularly the counties he represents.
“I’ve grown as a leader,” Owens said, of his time as a commissioner and a member of the Eastern Oregon Commissioners Association.
‘’I’m pro-life, pro-second amendment and pro-free speech,” he said, noting those are his non-negotiables.
On the other hand, Owens said he realizes he will be in the minority and has to work with the people on the other side. “I have the ability to build relationships.”
Given a question about the Second Amendment and gun rights, Owens responded that, “Counties do need total position on the Second Amendment (because the state will not.)”
To a question on water, Owens said the state needs to protect its control of water within the state and not left the federal government take control.
Owens’ appointment came in time for him to serve during the short session which starts Feb. 3, and has also filed to run for the Republican nomination for the position in the May Primary.
He farms near Crane and is on the Crane School Board, where his wife is a teacher.