While the two candidates, Dallas Brown (D) and Tony DeBone (R), may be forced to paint themselves in blue or red, voters need not make the same mistake. Facing an enormous budget shortfall, heading up the County Commissioner's office will require hard work, energy and the willingness to get dirty, which is why we are giving our endorsement to Dallas Brown.
It is in the home stretch that the candidates have distanced themselves from each other. Tony DeBone rode roughshod over a complacent Dennis Luke on his knowledge of south county water issues and had an amiable manner that Luke could never match. Luke's encyclopedic knowledge of local government is not what voters wanted this year - they were hungry for someone with no experience and a fresh perspective. DeBone filled the bill.
While DeBone was giving Luke his comeuppance, we were initially unimpressed with Brown. His inexperience and youth seemed a handicap when compared to the issues at hand.
Since their two victories, Brown has studied hard to become the more knowledgeable candidate and DeBone, frankly, appears to be resting on his laurels, confident that voters will punch the partisan county card. That would be a shame.
Brown now even outflanks his opponent intellectually on the groundwater issue in LaPine that was DeBone's calling card. Brown sagely pointed out the appropriate agency (DEQ) and identified cost issues that plague his opponent's thinking on the matter.
On destination resort management, neither candidate went far enough, in this board's opinion, in holding developers responsible for both the up and downside of this industry, but Brown gives fair weight to the value of those developments and acknowledges the role government plays in balancing quality of life against industry. No bleeding heart there.
Yet, it's about the economy this year and this is where Brown most impressed our board. Not because he had all the answers to where the knife is going to come down, no one does, but because Brown demonstrated a recognition of the issues' severity and didn't avoid acknowledging the tough decisions coming in labor negotiations, and cuts to vital services. Brown avoided the platitudes that a lesser candidate might have employed.
Unfairly, this race has focused on Brown's age and we plead guilty to having failed to avoid this prejudice in our previous writings about the candidate. But ultimately, when it counted, Brown has become, in our opinion the most exciting local candidate in this year's election. Brown's enthusiasm, intellect and willingness to confront tough decisions are a welcome relief to the banal, emotional rhetoric we see from candidates nationwide. We would be fortunate to have him as our county commissioner.