Why I am running

My wife Katie writes a weekly newsletter for our farm, Oakhill Organics. Last Wednesday, she wrote about my choice to file for Yamhill County Commissioner. Here is a slightly edited version of what she wrote up, which I think provides insight into why we made this choice together (I am running, but it takes a whole family to commit to this kind of endeavor!). In Katie’s words:

“Perhaps people saw the news in the News-Register that Casey has filed to run for Yamhill County Commissioner. Big news, eh?

“I imagine people are wondering why he’s running, and I think that story is an appropriate one for our blog since we tell our personal stories here as well as farm stories. Over the last 12+ years, Casey and I have both grown keenly aware of exactly how the daily lives of individuals are affected by political decisions. As rural residents of Yamhill County, we’ve paid close attention to the land-use process that determines some Big Things about life out here: who are neighbors are, what they do, who gets access to what opportunities. But we’ve also paid attention to how elected officials set the tone for how communities interact — is there a model of integrity and respect for everyone to follow?

“I have to admit that about eight years ago, we felt fairly jaded about much of the political process. At the time, it felt like these Big Things were so out of our hands. We could submit testimony at the capitol or the planning department, and we could vote, but it didn’t feel like those things added up to much. But more recently, we’ve realized that if we feel passionately about the community we live in — the place and the people who inhabit it — then, we have to persist with our efforts. We have to keep caring and keep communicating about the values we want to see in place.

“Even more recently, we’ve realized that our country as a whole is at the beginning of what will be a profound generational shift as so-called Baby Boomers retire from the workplace and civic life over the next 5-20 years. If there is to be any kind of smooth continuity, we realized that we cannot wait to be more directly involved in the political process — it is time now for younger generations to start stepping up, to work with the older generations for the next two decades. The older generations have hugely shaped our country and its agenda; they have experience in how the processes work or don’t work. Meanwhile, the younger generations have different perspectives to bring into the political process. So called Gen-Xers and Millennials came of age in a different world and will be living in this world for many decades to come. They are raising children in our community and are searching for solutions that will carry their children into a truly unknowable future. It seems like bringing these older and younger generations together now is critical to finding our way. Which will require Gen-Xers and Millennials to step up in a major way.

“Which they are. Casey is part of a wave of people running for office this year from those younger generations (including the other two challengers for Yamhill County Commissioner positions). It is exciting to feel like we are a part of a bigger movement to bring that fresh energy into the leadership of our country and our local community. Not all of the Gen-Xers and Millennials (and record number of women) who run for office this year will be elected; but some will. And, based on what I am reading and hearing, they are bringing with them a strong desire for integrity, for positivity, for fairness. It will be an interesting year for elections around the country and here at home!”

3 Replies to “Why I am running”

  1. Do you support bike trails through farmers fields or oppose them.?

    Our current commissioners spent 1.4 million dollars to buy a retired railroad track to build bike paths this is something that will end their livelihood as they know it.

    It was a 2 to 3 vote!


    1. I’ve definitely been hearing frustration about the trail from farmers in the county. I will try not be a “politician,” but I will be honest about my view on the trail at this point!

      First of all, there seems to be some misinformation out in the community about the price tag of the trail so far. When the county purchased the abandoned railway, $177,000 of the money came from the county. The rest of the money came from grants that were contributed for that purpose and were never available for the county’s budget. I don’t think a price tag has been put on the development of the trail yet, as the plans are still in the works, but the county plan calls for no monies from the general fund.

      The evidence so far from other projects conclude that rail-to-trail projects have very positive outcomes for the communities who develop and host them. They are affordable for their communities to maintain and bring a host of positives to local businesses and residents (financial and intangibles as well). Also, as a father who loves to spend time outside with my family, I do love the idea of a safe place to ride bicycles for long distances.

      All that being said, if this project were proposed to run adjacent to OUR farm, I’d have a lot of trepidation about the impacts too. We have a farmer friend in Albany who was facing a similar trail project and was very nervous about the effects it would have on his farm and so he actively opposed its placement. I can imagine the perceived conflict between operating a large commercial farm right next to a recreational trail!!!! And it sounds like farmers themselves feel as though this is a project being put on them rather than including them in the process.

      I would like to meet with the adjacent landowners/farmers who have specific concerns and hear those. I’d also like to meet with farmers along other such trails in Oregon (such as the Vernonia Banks trail) to find out more about their experience with the development and use of recreational trails that run adjacent to their operations. Doing so will help identify which of the concerns might not pan out the way farmers might fear and which actually need to be directly addressed in some way. It might even be useful to connect the farmers from the two communities to share their experiences.

      Since the trail is still in the planning stage and has yet to be voted on by the Commissioners (aside from the land purchase), my understanding is that there is time for changes in the plan. And, of course, the Commissioners could still ultimately decide that the benefits don’t outweigh the costs to the community. For myself to vote either way, I would need a lot more information about the specifics of the final plan and information from farmers near other such completed trails.

      1. As a new candidate can you tell me where the trail will start and end? Not the hypothetical BS from the current commissioners, but the hard starting and ending point.

        Joe, Don’t forget about the so far undisclosed amount of tax donation that was given to the Union Pacific Railroad as part of the purchase.

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