Incumbent Lake County Commissioner Ken Kestner is seeking re-election for what would be his third term in office.
No stranger to complex and large-scale issues, Kestner remembered diving in and absorbing the issues pertaining to Lake County Mental Health at the start of his first term nearly eight years ago.
Since that time, numerous changes, including a solid program and new director, have improved the stability of the agency as well as its level of services provided to the community, Kestner said.
He noted that he’s taking a similar approach to such issues of significance as sage grouse management, excessive wild horse numbers, local air quality and improving working relations with environmental groups.
“My first priority has always been to guard (the county’s) interests,” he said.
Kestner noted that air quality isn’t solely limited to just the Town of Lakeview. The emphasis, at present, is not on the cause or who is primarily at fault but rather avoiding local sanctions by the Environmental Protection Agency.
A five-year action developed by a local committee is an example of proactiveness in this matter, Kestner said.
The central concern of poor air quality is with health-related issues that come with excessive amounts of particulate matter.
A secondary impact is the potential economic impact to the local community, on both existing and potential future industrial operations.
Excessive numbers of wild horses in the Beaty Butte area are recreating a number of problems related to the local environment, including impacts to sage grouse habitat.
Kestner said the problem is not with local federal agencies, as they struggle with a lack of available funding and long-term holding facilities for the animals. The challenge lies in educating Congress on the issue, as he said the powers that be, so to speak, do not understand the ramifications of mismanaged herd numbers.
Finally, Kestner wants to foster more positive working relationships with such environmental groups as the Oregon Natural Desert Association while at the same time ensuring the county remains a diligent player at the table on natural resource issues.
“We just need to interact more,” he said. “We have to get familiar with one another. We have to be willing to give, as well as take.”