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Priorities

We all know that Lincoln County is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Right now there are some challenges facing us as a county, but we have the opportunity to meet those challenges head on. Whether or not we rise to the occasion will determine whether Lincoln County is able to remain the one of a kind place we are all proud to call home.
 

As your County Commissioner I intend to work collaboratively with government entities, businesses, nonprofits, and residents to adopt smart growth best practices as our guiding principles. These are common sense solutions that have been proven to work. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We just need to adapt successful strategies to meet our needs. 

I will bring fresh perspective and renewed dedication to tackling prevailing issues including but not limited to…

Increasing Availability of Affordable Housing
 

Ask 9 out of 10 Lincoln County residents and they’ll correctly identify that a lack of available housing stock across all price ranges is the key issue facing our county. That tenth resident who feels more strongly about another issue will certainly acknowledge that our lack of available housing is a contributing factor to whichever issue they see as more prevalent.

This disturbing lack of housing is not only contributing to our growing homelessness problem but is also hurting our working families as rents continue to rise. 
 

Increases in property taxes driven by ever-increasing home values are putting a strain on seniors and other residents living on fixed incomes. 

I can’t tell you how many longtime county residents have told me that their children and grandchildren have had to move away to find housing in their price range. Let’s reverse this trend and bring those families back together.

As if all the above weren’t enough reason to act, our businesses are also struggling to grow due to a lack of available workers in our area. While at the same time, hardworking people I’ve met personally are living out of their vehicles or driving on unsafe roads in all weather conditions just to make ends meet. 
 

This can’t continue. We need solutions now. One of the most obvious is to partner with developers to turn surplus county lands into affordable, workforce housing but this is not the only viable solution. A proactive approach will also help ensure that growth is in keeping with the established character of our communities.

 

I have recently published a green paper regarding some of the opportunities I see to address our housing shortage, even if Lincoln County is left to our our own devices without state or federal assistance. You can read my green paper Meeting Our Potential for Housing Stability by clicking on the link.

Ensuring Access to Quality Healthcare
 

I believe that County government has a duty to ensure that all residents can access quality healthcare. It’s literally the least we can do.

At the moment, our small but determined community health center locations are stretched past their capacity just trying to provide a basic level of care. I’ll fight for more resources so that the fine folks who staff these centers can continue their mission of keeping us strong and healthy.

I don’t want to diminish the daunting task that acquiring increased funding for public health services will be, but with regard to privatized medicine, the situation is even more dire so allow me to focus on that.

Considering the number of veterans, seniors, and immuno-comprised residents who call Lincoln County home, we have a disturbing lack of local healthcare providers. Especially medical specialists.

Those who require the care of a medical specialist know that they can look forward to a day long trip into the Valley. Not only is this inconvenient, but for many of our most vulnerable neighbors this trip is a dangerous, expensive, or altogether inaccessible option.

The sole reason we continue to suffer from this lack of healthcare options is because healthcare, like all industries in our area, is impacted by a lack of available housing. I’m not conflating issues, it’s a fact that doctors, nurses, EMTs, and medical technicians are struggling to find housing here. The ridiculously small number of rentals on the market severely impacts the traveling healthcare workers that our local hospitals rely on. It’s not that doctors and their staff don’t want to be here. There’s just nowhere for them to live.

Let’s end the constant need for long, costly, unsafe trips to facilities in other counties. Lincoln County residents deserve to be able to find the treatment options they need close to home.

Maintaining and Improving Highways & Infrastructure

One of the key tenets of a smart growth approach to planning is to make development decisions that are cost effective and predictable.

 

Well, you don’t have to be a civil engineer to predict that the growth of a community will have a noticeable impact on existing infrastructure including roads, bridges, utilities and water treatment systems.

 

Therefore, we cannot have a conversation about strengthening our community by increasing housing stock without looking critically at how addressing that shortfall will put some additional strain on our existing infrastructure.

I’m confident that we will build the taxbase to meet these needs by welcoming more tax paying residents into our community. We will also be able to rely on additional revenues attributable to the increased success seen by local businesses that are finally able to live up to their true potential.

As an additional cost-cutting measure, I support project labor agreements for building and maintaining infrastructure projects. The multiple benefits of which accrue directly to the county residents who build and maintain the infrastructure we all rely on.

As we build and grow we must maintain a focus on safety on our roadways. Additional lighting and guard rails are essential particularly in our coastal areas which are prone to erosion and in higher elevation communities which are often impacted by adverse weather conditions.

Protecting and Conserving Our Natural Habitat

Finally, none of this can or should be done without making our top priority the protection and conservation of our precious environment and ecosystems. For some this is a priority that doesn’t need to be overstated. Protecting our environment is its own reward.

Smart growth modalities, such as I am proposing, aim to manage growth in a way that is environmentally responsible and sustainable. Some ways in which a smart growth approach supports environmental protection efforts include:

1.    Encouraging compact development of walkable mixed use spaces near to existing population centers and infrastructure. Creating infill before considering the development of pristine lands.

2.    Implementing energy-efficient building practices and promoting the use of renewable energy sources contributing to lower energy consumption and reduced environmental impact.

3.    Prioritizing responsible land use and development to protect natural resources such as bodies of water, forests, and agricultural land.

However for those who don’t see mitigating climate change and protecting habitat as a top priority let’s also look at the outsized role that the environment plays in our livelihoods as Lincoln County residents.

In times past, county residents relied on the forests to provide lumber and on our waterways to provide sustenance. Going forward we will continue to depend upon forestry and our fishing fleets. Their ability to provide a living for county residents long into the future depends on the choices we make today.

In more recent times our county has come to rely on the serenity of our beaches, waterfalls, and farmland to be the driving reason why a thriving hospitality industry has visitors to serve. In fact, many cities in our county have recognized tourism as their key industry. Businesses (and their employees) in peripheral and even unrelated industries benefit from (and indeed rely on) this annual influx of visitor dollars.  

Essentially, every Lincoln County resident has at least one valid reason to cast their vote for increased oversight and protection of the natural beauty we are blessed to live amongst.

I feel like I also need to point out that Lincoln County has yet to adopt a Climate Action Plan. A number of municipalities around the state have already adopted their own Climate Action Plans aimed at realizing a carbon neutral future by 2035, and yet efforts here in Lincoln County have stalled. I'm eager to move ahead with this important initiative. A carbon neutral future is an important step in bringing Lincoln County's goals as a municipality into the 21st century. 

Better Service for Unincorporated Communities

All too often residents in unincorporated areas tell me that they feel under represented by our Board of Commissioners. They want to know why the commissioners aren't coming to meet them where they are to witness the issues facing their communities firsthand. Our Board of Commissioners can't only work for people in the cities. For residents in unincorporated areas, the BOC is their local government. Unincorporated areas need greater attention by our BOC and I intend to make that happen. 

Not only will I be planning campaign events in unincorporated areas, but if elected I hope to host at least two townhalls a month. Each in various areas of the county, with a focus on unincorporated communities, so that I can be directly accountable to local residents. 

 

I invite you to reach out to further discuss the issues which matter most to you. If you have innovative solutions to any of the above, or other issues facing our county, I’d like to hear them. You can reach me via email at:

don@votedongomez.com

I aim to serve Lincoln County residents by being a friend in county government. One who you all can rely on to be accessible, communicative, collaborative, and always working hard to improve the daily lives of county residents.

I’d be honored to have your vote in  the May 21st Primary Election!

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