As of Friday, February 23, 2018
Orcharding and school board work are just two of many hats Mike Oates has worn in his life and how he hopes to add another: President of the Hood River County Board of Commissioners.
Oates, 65, who grows pears and apples in Odell, has filed to run for the position on the May 15 Primary Ballot.
Incumbent and fellow orchardist Ron Rivers announced this month he will retire from the board when his term expires in December.
“I’ve always had a commitment to the community, and this seems like an opportunity to culminate all my service into the community in one position,” Oates said, a life-long county resident, whose family shifted from logging to orcharding in the 1960s. “As I come to point in my life where I am slowing down on the physical stuff in the orchard, I believe I have the time to do it.” Oates is President of Oates Orchards Inc.; his son, Jimmie, and son-in-law, Russell Dichter, manage the day-to-day operations of the business.
“I love this county — it’s my life, it always has been my life and I care about it,” Oates said. “I want to see things be good because it’s a great place.”
Oates said that, if elected, he would emphasize three areas of concern, among them affordability.
“I want to make sure when making decisions that people who work here need to be able to afford to live here, it’s part of community.
“Second is livability: to make sure all the things we need for a healthy, vibrant society that’s safe are all there. Third, sustainability, we need to make sure we’re able to pay for and continue all the services we have that we need to be a vibrant, affordable and safe community. We need to have a system where you pay it this year and can pay the next and the next, a way to finance it into the future. You have to be prudent.”
Oates recalled in a press release, “For many years I refereed football and basketball throughout the Mid-Columbia. I also helped with my kids’ activities by coaching, transporting and other support. In the late 1970s, I was appointed to the Hood River County Planning Commission. During this time, we were developing the comprehensive plans. Long evening meetings of hearings and work sessions over this four-year period led to enactment of the comprehensive plans for much of the county and also the urban growth boundary.”
In the 1990s, he was appointed to and served several years on the school district budget committee and was then elected to the school board for a total of eight years, and then appointed to the district Financial Advisory committee for an additional two years.
“I worked on the school district budget for 16 years in all,” Oates said. The district includes all of Hood River County.
His most recent county-wide position would be on the initial board for re-opening of the Hood River County Library, in 2010. “Our dedicated five-member board was able to set governances, policies, hire a library director and consequently staff, and reopen the library shortly afterwards. All this was done with an old building filled with a diminished book collection. Today’s library district contains an up-to-date collection, advanced technology, and satellite libraries in Parkdale and Cascade Locks, all on a leaner budget.”
Oates currently serves on the Hood River Education Foundation Board and has served on several industry boards including the Hood River Grower Shipper Association, the Research Committee, and Chair of the Ag Water Quality Local Advisory Committee, as well as a board member of the Canned Pear Service, which handles marketing of canned pears.