Colm Willis

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Friends,

Last week, like most weeks, flew by. As you probably know the big news is that the State Senate Republican caucus has left the state, denying a quorum and likely ending the legislative session. This may have some impact on Marion County but I understand the gravity of their decision. The majority in this year's legislature has been hammering rural Oregon with legislation that will severly harm the livelihood of people who work in rural industries. It was amazing to see all of the regular working people who showed up to explain to the legislators from Portland what it is like to live and work in rural Oregon. These were not business executives coming down from highrises, they were ordinary people just trying to make a living and take care of their families. Its a shame that it took a walk out for their voices to be heard.

Capitol protest

This week we will have an impact on the future of the legislature. On Tuesday we will have a joint meeting with the Polk County Commissioners and we will vote to appoint the person who will serve as our next state senator in Senate District 10 which was vacated with the passing of Senator Jackie Winters. Say a prayer that we choose a person who will be a true public servant.

John Lattimer at desk

Last week we celebrated the retirement of our Chief Administrative Officer and Budget chief John Lattimer. The staff thought it would be hilarious if the new commissioner (me) mc'd the quiz "How well do you know John Lattimer." There were well over 100 people who came to thank John for his service and the impact he had on their lives. Even the governor stopped by to celebrate John. You can read more and see pictures here.

Last week I also had the opportunity to meet with Marion Fire Chief McMann. Chief McMann and his team do a great job keeping our citizens who live in rural Marion County safe. Thank you Marion County Fire District #1!

Finally, at the end of the week I had the opportunity to visit the Oregon State Hospital. This is the hospital that takes care of patients with mental and behavioral health diagnosis from all across the state. It is a beautiful campus and it is a credit to the Oregon legislature that they have invested in such a beautiful facility over the years. Unfortunately, there is more need for the services of the state hospital than there is availability. Although there is a hope for more secure residential facilities spread out across the state, so far folks have not figured out how to make these types of facilities work economically. As a result, too many people with mental illness are stuck in jails and emergency rooms across the state. Marion County does a better job addressing this problem than some counties, but this is a crisis that is affecting all of Oregon. We are working hard to try to find solutions to this problem.

It is an honor to serve you as your county commissioner.

God bless,

Colm

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