His non-negotiables include ‘pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and pro-free speech’
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.
By Northwest Spotlight
Crane, Ore—Today, Republican Mark Owens, local farmer and Harney County Commissioner, announced his candidacy for state representative in Oregon’s House District 60. The seat is currently held by Rep. Lynn Findley (R-Vale) who announced last week he will be running for the Oregon Senate.
“I can’t think of a better place to live, work and raise a family than where we live today, and as the next state representative for eastern Oregon, I will work to make sure we build a sustainable future for the next generation of Oregonians,” said Owens. “Our communities need an advocate in Salem that understands our unique way of life and the challenges we face, and who will make sure opportunities abound for our citizens—I will be that advocate.”
As a teenager, Owens spent his summers working on a ranch in Harney County before he moved to Harney County full time in 2001. His greatest accomplishment was meeting and marrying his wife Celeste who had moved into the area to teach school after college. They were able to start and currently operate an alfalfa ranch and custom haying business. Celeste is an elementary school teacher in Crane and their two children, ages 15 and 11, attend Crane public schools.
Owens was elected to the Harney County Commission in 2016 where his priority has been to ensure Harney County is able to sustain local agriculture while looking for additional business opportunities for the county. The use of natural resources, public lands and protecting our way of life has been and still will be his primary focus.
In addition, he serves as Chair of the Ground Water Study Advisory Committee and liaison for the Oregon Water Resource Department, and as the School Board Chair for Crane Union High School. He has served on numerous commissions, boards and councils to represent eastern Oregon locally and at the state level.
“We have been greatly represented by Representative Findley and Senator Bentz, and it would be an honor to carry on their great work and be a voice for the citizens of Eastern Oregon in the Oregon legislature,” said Owens.
Owens will file his candidacy today and launch his formal campaign this week.