McBride, Kitt announce County Board candidacies

Voters will have a choice on May 17 in the Hood River County Commission Position 2 race.

A.J. Kitt, a former City Council Member, filed for the office last month, and Port of Hood River Commissioner Rich McBride added his name this week for the four-year term. Incumbent Maui Meyer decided to step down after 12 years in the county role.

In addition, Ron Rivers filed for reelection on Thursday for a sixth two-year term as County Commission chair, and Les Perkins filed for a fifth term on Position 4.

Another new filing is that of Donna Mohr for the job of Cascade Locks Justice of the Peace; Brad Lorang has also enlisted for that position, currently held by Cindy Mitchell.

The deadline to file is March 8; see page A11 for details.

The county commission job is the second elected office sought by McBride and Kitt, who share other similarities: both see affordable housing as the most pressing issue facing the county, and both arrived in Hood River in 2000 and are real estate professionals who lived for a time in Colorado.

McBride has been a Port Commissioner for the past five years, and Kitt served on Hood River Council from 2002-05, first by appointment and then election. He stepped down when his wife, Amy, bore triplets (Aksel, Ava and Ayden, now 10).

Kitt, 47, a native of upstate New York, worked as a Colorado real estate developer, including a development in Steamboat Springs that signed over a significant portion to a state-sponsored conservation easement. He currently works for RE/MAX and serves on the city Board of Property Tax Appeals. Kitt was also a professional ski racer.

“I enjoyed being on council, and felt I had to leave earlier than I would liked,” Kitt said.

McBride, 59, is a Kansas City native who owned a whitewater gear business in Bend and has worked both as a contractor and car mechanic before moving to real estate five years ago. He is a broker with CopperWest Properties, which is owned by Meyer. McBride served in the Peace Corps in the Pacific nation of Tuvalu in 1979-81, and graduated from Western States College in Gunnison, Colo.

“I told Maui I’d like to run for his position if he decided not to run again,” said McBride, adding that Meyer did not inform him directly of his decision when he announced it last month.

Kitt said he considered running for council again in the past six or eight years, but wanted a different challenge. “The county has perhaps a broader scope, and I felt it would be more interesting to me.

“I don’t actually know all that much about the county,” he stated. “I’m not all that up on how it all works, but I think that makes me a good candidate. I don’t have an agenda. I understand the current commission has a good relationship with each other, that they debate, often and sometimes hard, and when it is over they are cordial and back to being on good terms, and that to me is the only way to make things as productive as possible. I think I can be a positive part of the big picture.”

McBride said he has seen a “maturing of my boarding skills,” and had his eye on the commission post, in part because of the positive relationship he said he has helped forge between the city and port.

His wife of 13 years, Kate McBride, serves as a City Council member, and McBride said their relationship has helped foster better cooperation between the two jurisdictions.

“The goal for Kate and I, as we have settled in professionally in our years prior to retirement and a time with no kids, is to give in more ways to the community,” he said.

“I believe with my experience I can help in making better decisions. Every line of communication is a little different, and multiple lines of communication can help in those times when things get murky.”

Kitt said affordable housing is “not just a city issue, it’s a county problem,” and that the county is “better able to solve the problem.” He also wants focus to be put on Cascade Locks’ economic development and public service needs, including law enforcement.

“It is an area that is struggling, and it is such a beautiful place with such potential, but right now it is not attractive to people to come there. I’d like to work to change that,” he said.

McBride said increasing work force housing and parks and park lands are two areas he would emphasize if elected. “The investment this community has put into its waterfront areas has paid off in spades,” McBride said.

Rivers said he got a clean bill of health and the doctor told him, “You’re good for another two years,” the duration of the chairman’s term.

“I’ve had a lot of support from the staff and the other commissioners, and also I just felt I could not in good conscience leave the board at the same time as Dave leaving, and Maui resigning,” Rivers said, referring to County Administrator Dave Meriwether, who retires in June; the commission is now doing a search for a new administrator. “I feel it has been a good 10 years and I’ve served the county well and look forward to continuing that,” Rivers said.

Openings on May 17 Primary Ballot

Three County Commission seats, including the chair position, a seat in the Oregon House, and the County Sheriff and District Attorney positions are all up for re-election on the May 17 ballot.

These incumbents have filed for re-election: Dist. 52 Rep. Mark Johnson, county chair Ron Rivers, Position 3 commissioner Les Perkins, Sheriff Matt English, and District Attorney John Sewell. (Perkins, with 16 years on the commission, is the longest-serving current commissioner.)

Johnson faces challengers Mark Reynolds of Odell and Walt Trandum of Sandy. (State Sen. Chuck Thomsen’s seat will be up for vote in 2018.)

Maui Meyer, Position 2, announced last month he will not seek a fourth term. Chair Ron Rivers and Position 4 incumbent Les Perkins have filed to run again.

Here are the basics for getting involved:

  • The deadline to file is on March 8
  • County Elections are located at Sixth and State streets, County Administration building
  • Phone 541-386-1442
  • Elections information, including registering to vote on-line, at
  • Filings for state offices may be done through the Secretary of State’s office

In a notable election change this year, under new Oregon law, anyone who registers a vehicle at Department of Motor Vehicles will be automatically registered (unless they want to opt out), as reported in our Jan. 2 edition.

As many as 1,500 new voters could be on the county roles by year’s end.

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