County commissioners appoint Mark Owens to replace Findley

East Oregonian
January 22, 2020

ONTARIO — Commissioners from Baker, Harney, Grant, Malheur and Lake counties voted unanimously today to appoint Mark Owens, a Harney County farmer, to replace Lynn Findley as representative for Oregon House District 60.

Findley, a Republican from Vale, was appointed earlier this month to replace Cliff Bentz in state Senate District 30.

Bentz resigned to run full time for Greg Walden’s seat in Congress.

“I am thankful and humbled today to have been appointed to serve as the next state representative for House District 60,” Owens said in a press release. “I look forward to serving the communities and being a voice for Eastern Oregon in Salem.”

There were two other candidates for House District 60 — Tom Van Diepen of Baker City, and Tim Smith of Burns.

Baker County Commissioner Mark Bennett said neither was present when commissioners voted Tuesday in Ontario.

Owens, a Harney County commissioner, filed Nov. 4, 2019, as a candidate for the House District 60 Republican primary in May.

He will be sworn in later this month. The Oregon Legislature convenes Feb. 3 in Salem.

“At the state level, there is a lot of work to be done to protect our way of life in Eastern Oregon and to provide a better path for future generations of Oregonians,” Owens said. “We need to make sustainable natural resources a top priority. Our kids deserve stronger schools and greater opportunities for their career paths. Families need financial stability instead of living paycheck to paycheck and having to worry about the next tax increase coming our way from Salem.

“Most importantly, my top priority and my No. 1 job will be to listen, learn and represent the constituents in Eastern Oregon.”

Owens campaigns for state representative in Grant County

Owens: ‘I will go to all ends to make sure our voice is heard’

Republican Mark Owens is running to be the state representative in Oregon’s House District 60.

Owens, a Harney County commissioner, met with community members and leaders Dec. 5 at The Outpost Pizza, Pub & Grill in John Day.

“The main takeaway from the event is learning to listen to people and learning to be their voice,” Owens said. “There are a lot of similar issues between Harney County, Malheur County, Lake County, Baker County and here in Grant County.”

A big concern for Eastern Oregonians is how people use natural resources and how to maintain local forests, he said.

“Forest issues are a huge conversation in Grant County as they should be,” Owens said. “We need to figure out how to get more product out of the forest, reduce fire levels and get employees back to work.”

Most of the forest issues are on federal land, but Owens said he can do many things as a state representative to have the voice of the people heard.

“There are going to be some direct acts coming in the next two sessions in order to do more work,” Owens said. “Having a strong voice there that understands we need to do commercial thinning and pre-commercial thinning to get value off that and try to direct any funds that the state will allocate for federal match into our counties is really needed.”

Owens continued by discussing the importance of the community in these conversations because they are the stewards over the forests. Eastern Oregon relies on logging customs and culture, which is something that Owens wants to maintain.

Grant County commissioners Jim Hamsher and Sam Palmer greeted Owens at the event. Working closely with county commissioners in Eastern Oregon is another priority for Owens.

The reason why Owens is running for representative is similar to why he ran to be commissioner in Harney County.

“Harney County has allowed myself and my family to live the American dream, which we were able to live through agriculture and the use of natural resources.” Owens said. “I found that those opportunities that I had are becoming harder to find.”

When asked what makes him stand out as a candidate, Owens talked about his ability to listen and how to bring a message to others.

“I feel I am a good listener and feel that I can bring forth their voice in a calm, yet passionate, way that gets people to listen.” said Owens. “I am very hardworking, and I will go to all ends to make sure our voice is heard, but my ability to listen and bring our message together are my strongest assets.”

Owens shared his values and how they applied in decisions regarding moral and constitutional issues.

“Pro-life, Second Amendment and freedom of speech — they’re black and white, and there are no gray areas in moral and constitutional issues, and we have to say no or yes to those issues,” Owens said. “In other issues, there is flexibility because we have to make incremental steps in the direction that we need to go to build back our rural communities. We have to be reasonable and willing to work with the other side.”

Owens also said it is important to stand up for small businesses and be agriculture-friendly in Oregon.

Rep. Lynn Findley of Vale is the current representative for District 60, but he announced Oct. 31 that he will be running for the Oregon Senate.