Colm Willis

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I imagine you are probably busy this week getting ready for Thanksgiving. I know in my house we have a few extra chores to accomplish before the big day. Thanksgiving and Independence Day are uniquely American holidays. The 4th of July reminds us of the importance of liberty, and Thanksgiving reminds us how important it is to thank God for all he has given us. Although these holidays were started in the United States, these reminders are true for all people wherever they live in the world. I've always thought that in this, and other ways, the people of America have given something good to all people in the world.

Last week, I attended a meeting of the county commissioners from all 36 counties in Oregon. I learned about some best practices from other counties, but it was also gratifying to see Marion County so well represented. Our former Sheriff Jason Myers is now the executive director of the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association and he presented on some of the challenges counties are facing with increased pressure on our parole and probation officers.

This has become even more of an issue because Governor Brown has released an increasing number of Measure 11 violent offenders into our community before they have finished serving their sentences. Fortunately, our District Attorney, Paige Clarkson has spoken out strongly against the Governor's actions. Nonetheless, it is putting more of a strain on our Sheriff's department. You can read more about it here.

Brian Nicholas, Marion County's Public Works Director was asked to give a presentation on Marion County's response to the 2020 wildfires. Although, we didn't get everything right, it is encouraging that Marion County's response to the fires is being recognized as a model statewide.

At County Commissioner conference

Last week, the Salem-Keizer School district released data showing that the number of suspensions are down but the number of fights and violent incidents have increased by 42% since the school district made the decision to remove school resource officers from the district. School resource officers are local police officers who are stationed full time at a school. They provide a trusted adult on site for kids, and the data shows that they are the person at school that kids go to if they are being abused. Unfortunately, a small minority of people persuaded the Superintendent to remove the officers last year, and now we have more violence in our schools. You can read more about it here.. I hope that the Salem-Keizer School District changes course and follows Woodburn's lead in keeping police officers in our schools.

On November 11th we celebrated Veterans' Day. I think it is appropriate to remember our veterans again as we celebrate Thanksgiving. We can all be grateful for the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. This year in a special way I am also grateful for those veterans who continue to serve us in law enforcement. Often we don't know all of the sacrifices they make to keep our community safe.

Sheriffs meet during wildfire crisis

Recently, I have received an increase in constituent requests, and it is encouraging to see more folks reaching out to my office when they run into issues navigating local government. If there is something I may be able to help you with, please don't hesitate to reach out. Being able to assist you and our neighbors is one of the reasons I am in public office.

It is an honor to serve you as your commissioner.

God bless,

-- Colm


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