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Meet Don...

One warm summer day in the late eighties a scrawny kid from the Valley took a trip with his family to a popular beach in Lincoln County. He spent his time dashing away from the ocean’s chilly waters, soaking up the sun, enjoying the breeze, and collecting cool shells. By the end of the day he’d become enraptured with the place and couldn’t wait to return.

 

Little could he have imagined that it would take him nearly 30 years to make it back to that same beach. That he would sooner see the sands of Iraq.

 

Nor did he know that when he came back, he would come to stay and would bring with him a wealth of experience and knowledge that he could offer to his new community.

 

You’ve probably guessed by now that that scrawny kid (who thankfully filled out into a wiry young Corporal of Marines) is none other than Don Gomez, candidate for Lincoln County Commissioner. The events that transpired in Don’s life between that day and this molded a leader with a passion for serving his community.

 

While Don is relatively new to Lincoln County, he’s by no means new to Oregon. Don is a proud product of Oregon public schools and his family has lived in Oregon since the early 1870’s making him the progeny of the hard-working fishermen and farmers who built this great state. 

 

The reason why he never made it back to that beach he so loved as a child is the story of what happens when economic priorities and environmental necessities are not balanced for the sake of smart growth.

 

In June of 1990 an environmental victory which saved the Northern Spotted Owl from impending extinction simultaneously devastated Oregon’s primary industry of logging. Don’s family, along with many other families across the state who worked in peripheral industries, bore the brunt of the economic hardship amid the massive job loss which followed this necessary species preservation measure.

 

Eventually the state’s economy did rebound. To this day logging remains a key industry in Oregon. Plus we are still blessed with a precarious population of spotted owls. Given these facts it’s clear that had federal, state, and local government been proactive in addressing this long-building issue that the economic fallout could’ve been avoided.

 

Don believes that the tendency to do what works and put on blinders until problems can no longer be denied is one of the key failures of government. In an ever-changing world, Don sees that the only methodology that makes sense is to anticipate the future and prepare to confront adversity competently; with the right tools and plans in place. Don believes in working tirelessly to confront issues as they arise rather than playing catch up.

 

This way of thinking was fostered by Don’s time in the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Financial Resource Analyst actively combatting fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer funds in order to ensure peak mission readiness.

 

During his time in the Marines Don spent 13 months boots on the ground in Al Anbar province in Iraq managing budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He simultaneously acted as the sole budget clerk for the dozens of military, border, and police transition teams responsible for training Iraqi troops to take charge of their newly democratic nation. Due to the innovative solutions he instituted, and the dedication to duty he demonstrated, Don was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

 

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Just prior to leaving for this deployment, Don became pen pals with the woman who would grow to become the love of his life. He and Michelle were wed shortly after his return from Iraq in 2009 and she’s still putting up with him to this day. Unfortunately, the medal she deserves for doing so is not likely forthcoming.

 

Life after the Marines saw Don become a college graduate and then a business owner in short order. Don and Michelle settled into an enjoyable pace of life and began to make time to give back to their community. Don has spent much of the last decade serving veterans and military families in volunteer roles including as the Communications Director for National Veterans Group, a legislative advocacy nonprofit which served the military family community.
 

During this time Don also served as the Digital Media Team Lead for the Veterans Writing Group, a separate nonprofit whose mission is to help veterans and their loved ones heal through the writing process. Things for Don and Michelle were leaning toward happily-ever-after but something got in the way. Covid.

 

The pandemic wreaked havoc on the many hospitality industry clients Don served with his content-marketing business and a new direction was in order. In 2021 Don and Michelle raised stakes and moved to Newport. Here he would pursue the passion for publishing he cultivated through his years of service with the Veterans Writing Group.

 

Today Don is the Founder and Publisher of Sterncastle Publishing a locally based traditional publisher of fiction, folklore, poetry, memoir, and biography. Over a year after commencing operations, Sterncastle is having an outsized impact on the local artistic landscape by providing free writing groups to community members and adding to the rich cultural legacy of Lincoln County. Don & Co. continue to make good on their mission to elevate voices commonly overlooked in mainstream literature namely those belonging to authors who identify as Indigenous, Latino, Black, Veterans, and LGBTQ+.

During the course of building Sterncastle, Don became acquainted with the local business community and the community at large. He began to see a myriad of opportunities to address some of the issues currently plaguing county residents. Chief amongst them, a lack of affordable housing which is hampering the growth of area businesses and making things difficult for working families and families on fixed incomes.

 

By listening to long term local residents Don learned that the growing pains currently facing our county are nothing new and that the Oregon Coast has seen many boom and bust cycles. 

 

The reason we continue to endure this ebb and flow in regional prosperity is because local government has yet to rise to meet the challenge of enabling sustainable growth presented during those boom years. Therefore, opportunity comes in and opportunity goes out, like so many waves upon our beaches.

 

Lincoln County is once again on a precipice. That wave of prosperity has come round again, and Don believes that this is the time that we can turn the tide.

 

Who better than a Marine Corps veteran to lead the charge and ensure that county government is taking an active role in accomplishing its mission to serve local residents? The question is rhetorical, but the choice is obvious. Don Gomez has the tenacity, experience, vision and attention to detail necessary to guide our county’s growth in a positive direction as your next Lincoln County Commissioner.

 

In his free time Don enjoys hiking, travel, photography, and great food. He and Michelle have recently volunteered with Oregon Coast Council for the Arts to help bring an exciting array of new music options to the Newport PAC.

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