Oregon’s newest rural lawmaker sworn in

Mark Owens, a Republican from rural Oregon, was sworn in Thursday as the newest member of the state House of Representatives.

A rancher and small business owner from Crane, Owens previously served as a Harney County commissioner and is the school board chair for the Crane Union School District, home to Crane High and its 66 or so students.

County commissioners from numerous Eastern Oregon counties chose Owens to replace Lynn Findley, R-Vale, in the House after commissioners voted to appoint Findley to the Senate, where he replaced Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, who resigned to run for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden’s seat in Congress.

Secretary of State Bev Clarno administered the oath of office at Central Christian School in Redmond. Family members, friends, students and fellow Republican lawmakers attended the ceremony.

“I look forward to serving Oregonians and the communities in House District 60, and being a voice for eastern Oregon in Salem,” Owens said.

In a statement, House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, hailed his appointment.

“Representative Owens brings a vital rural Oregon perspective to Salem,” Drazen said. “His years of experience working the land, serving as a county commissioner and school board chair will serve him well.”

Owens will serve on the House Revenue Committee and the House Water Committee.

Prior to his nomination by the Republican Party as a candidate for the appointment, he had filed to run for the House District 60 seat this year.

He joins fellow Republican Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson of Prineville and Democrat Akasha Lawrence Spence of Portland as House remembers who will serve in the 2020 Legislature having been appointed rather than elected to their seats.

No opposition for Owens

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.

Harney County Commissioner, Mark Owens, will represent Malheur County in the House

Owens, who has been a county commissioner since 2016, will represent House District 60 which includes Baker, Grant, Harney and Malheur counties in addition to parts of Lake County.

The Enterprise
January 21, 2020

ONTARIO – County commissioners chose Republican Mark Owens on Tuesday, Jan. 21, to serve as the next state representative for House District 60, filling the vacancy left by Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale.

Malheur County now will be represented in the House by Owens, a Harney County commissioner, farmer, and small business owner.

Owens has been on the Harney County Commission since 2016.

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

The district includes Baker, Grant, Harney and Malheur counties in addition to parts of Lake County.

“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 number one job will be to listen, learn and represent the constituents in eastern Oregon,” Owens added.

Due to be sworn in later this month, Owens will serve in the short legislative session beginning Monday, Feb. 3.

Mark Owens Announces Campaign for State Representative

By Northwest Spotlight
Oregon Catalyst

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.