By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
March 29, 2006
Hood River County Commission Chair candidate Paul Nevin is a fighter — and he carries that strong sense of determination into his candidacy.
More than 30 years ago, Nevin, then a high school junior, was involved in a skiing accident that left him with a fractured skull. He was in a coma with head trauma for weeks and underwent several operations. Although it appeared doubtful to many physicians that Nevin would live, he beat the odds.
And beat them again when he overcame a brain injury to graduate from Hood River Valley High School. Eleven years later he had earned a bachelor of arts degree from the State University of New York.
Today, at the age of 50, Nevin lives on Methodist Road with his mother and is currently unemployed. However, he devotes hours of his day to studying current issues and formulating ideas about how to solve the challenges facing local communities.
“I write a lot of letters to the editor that tell about my ideas. They may or may not be the right ones but, hopefully, they’ll spark a debate or something,” said Nevin. (In 2005, Nevin had 14 letters published.)
For example, he would like to see Hood River County set up renewable energy plants powered by the geothermal wells on Mount Hood. He said a study should be undertaken to pinpoint these water tables so they could be tapped to provide for new economic development opportunities.
Nevin also believes the county should investigate new “Factory in a Box” technology. He said the more sophisticated equipment could provide a way for the county to generate hydro power without building a dam.
Nevin also wants an updated map of the Crystal Springs watershed. He believes the borders of the environmentally sensitive area should be clearly marked as off-limits to new residential growth.
For the past two weeks, Nevin has watched the drama unfolding in the chair race. He was “disappointed” with Schock’s abrupt resignation from office last week. Two years ago, Nevin waged a write-in campaign against Schock but failed to capture the necessary votes for a win. He was looking forward to besting his political adversary this time around. Nevin believes his filing as an official candidate in the May 16 primary election on Feb. 28 might have had something to do with Schock’s decision. Although Schock said that health problems and time constraints had led to his withdrawal on March 7, Nevin contends that having an opponent might also have been a consideration.
“The fact that he decided to not run right at the end could be coincidence or it could be my fault,” he said.
Nevin said it does appear pre-arranged that District 2 Commissioner Maui Meyer went up to the county election office with Schock just 45 minutes from the filing deadline. Meyer then signed up to run for the position as soon as Schock removed himself from the contest.
“I think that’s pretty funny, really,” said Nevin. “I get the feeling that people want to keep the commission more as a good old boy’s club than an office to benefit Hood River County.”
Nevin has empathy for Parkdale orchardist Ron Rivers, who was so incensed by Schock and Meyer’s actions that he launched a write-in campaign. Nevin has learned firsthand that it is difficult to get the message out to voters that you are a candidate when your name does not appear on the ballot.
“Being on the ballot really helps and I’m expecting to get more votes this time,” he said.
However, Nevin has been impressed with the number of people who appear to be rallying around Rivers and lending him support. Nevin said his write-in candidacy was pretty much a solo effort — as is his current campaign.
“The people who are backing Ron Rivers should have done that for me; maybe some of them will now,” he said.
Nevin believes that he has an edge on both Rivers and Meyer because of his issues-based platform. Internet communication will be the core of his campaign, since Nevin is not going to post yard signs that “trash” the landscape along area roadways.
He hopes that his message about the county’s need for a more open and responsive government will resonate with voters. And they will check his name on the ballot.
“The commissioners are there to give ideas, not to interpret the law — that’s what judges are for. I think the commission should be more open and ready to tell what they’re doing. And they should actually be doing something,” said Nevin. If elected, he intends to have the commission publish information about any pending decisions each month to encourage more citizen feedback.
Nevin invites anyone with suggestions for change to send them via his Web site, www.hoodsale.com.