Unger, a lifelong resident of Oregon, was actually born in the city of which he is now mayor. Before taking the city's top office, he served on the Redmond Area Planning Commission and was then elected to the Redmond City Council.
In a recent interview published in the Source two weeks ago, new Deschutes County Democratic Party chair Jim Thomassen, hinted that Unger might toss his hat in the ring, calling the mayor "astute on Central Oregon issues." Unger didn't officially announce his candidacy, however, until last Thursday, which was followed by a "Listening Tour" with different groups throughout the county on Friday and Saturday.
When we spoke with Unger this week, he said his reasons for seeking a spot on the board of commissioners were simple.
"You can't stay wherever you are forever - you make a difference and then you move on," the mayor said.
But that said, Unger is hardly jumping ship in Redmond - he feels like he's built a strong legacy in the city.
"We've been able to address growth and stay ahead of the challenge, there's lots of things that we were able to accomplish, but that's the big one," Unger said.
Just as growth was an issue in Redmond, Unger knows that it will also be a concern should he be elected to the position. And in step with growth comes Central Oregon residents' concern over preserving the quality of life they've either come to expect, or perhaps moved here to enjoy, he said. He also mentioned stressed better communication within the county.
"I want to make sure that we as a region are talking and all the different cities are talking. I'm not saying that doesn't happen now, but it's important for the county," he said.
It's hard to overlook Unger's entrance into the race and the fact that he's running for a spot on a board of commissioners that's currently, and long been, comprised exclusively of Republicans. Still, Unger, who's entrance into the race has been welcomed by the county's progressives, doesn't seem to be beating the drum of partisanship.
"When you're talking local politics and county offices, the issues aren't always that partisan. I like to drive down the middle of the road and make sure we can take care of issues that both Democrats and Republicans care about."