The Time for Non-Partisan County Commissioners Is Now

I called for the non-partisan election of County Commissioners at the only major, pre-primary forum that included the Democratic candidates. Therefore, it’s gratifying to see Tammy Baney has now taken up the issue. My hope is her fellow commissioners will join us and put the matter before voters in November.

We are stronger when we are united by our common values and shared goals than when we are divided by partisanship. It’s time to make this happen.

While I agree with the Bulletin’s June 3 editorial that the County should initiate a robust discussion of our charter, with the possibility of placing a home rule initiative on the ballot in the future, there is no need to wait on the issue of non-partisan commissioner elections. The issue is — unlike a broad rewriting of our charter — simple to explain, easy to understand and, in my experience, widely supported. By moving first to minimize the role of partisanship in County politics before moving to the more complex issue of the charter, we can make the broader discussion less polarizing and more productive. read more

Housing

Deschutes County is a strong, vibrant and beautiful place to live. But, in the face of rapid growth, we cannot maintain our quality of life by standing still or looking wistfully backwards. Growth brings great challenges AND opportunities and, to meet them, we must recognize that housing, transportation and jobs are not separate issues.

What Makes America Great

As we celebrate Independence Day, it is appropriate to reflect upon what truly makes America great.

It is not one person or group.

It is not a document or set of laws.

It is not the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, but the values, ideals and aspirations given life in those documents and in the words of our greatest leaders from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr.

It is not the actions of our government but the actions of our people who, inspired by those ideals, gave their lives at home and abroad to preserve them. It is the actions of people who, in the face of hatred, walked into classrooms, sat at lunch counters and refused to move to the back of the bus, in order to remind us of those values. It is the actions of people who live out those values in our communities. read more

Marijuana

“Regulating a new industry with a crop as complicated as marijuana is going to be an important challenge for a new county commissioner. On this issue, Adair needs to prove she will provide more thoughtful policy direction to earn voter support. Cook is already doing that.”

Bulletin Editorial Board, May 21, 2018

The citizens of Oregon and Deschutes County voted for legalization of recreational marijuana. Our zoning ordinances are the strictest in Oregon and, according to the county’s own reports, our enforcement is effective. Still, as might be expected for any new industry, there are people who believe the current county regulations go too far and those who think they are not strict enough. read more

Rotary Club of Greater Bend: Candidates Forum

Below is my introductory statement to the Rotary Club of Greater Bend’s April 25th Candidates Forum. It was a pleasure participating and I appreciate that all the candidates were invited.

I’m James Cook, Democratic candidate for the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners. I’d like to thank the Rotary for this opportunity to introduce myself.

I’ve been developing web sites for more than 20 years, working with clients ranging from the Pope to the Central Oregon Visitors’ Association, from Vince Gill to G5. I’m proud of the work I’ve done and the clients I’ve worked with. read more

James Cook: Candidate Statement

Democrat

Occupation: Small Business Owner; Web Developer; Illustrator

Occupational Background: Owner studioJMC; Columnist St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Educational Background: Bachelor of Architecture Degree University of Illinois

Prior Governmental Experience: Chairperson of Redmond Urban Area Planning Commission; Redmond Budget Committee; Parks Committee; Dry Canyon Master Plan Update Committee

Deschutes County is experiencing growth that offers great opportunities and greater challenges. If we work together, we can build the foundation to meet those challenges and create a community that works for all residents; from ranchers to small business owners, from workers on the shop floor to tech entrepreneurs. read more

Empowering Citizens

Local government is our best opportunity for addressing the challenges we face as a county and region. Unfortunately, except for interactions like paying taxes we rarely interact directly with our citizens. We need to explore new ways to bring citizens into the deliberative processes of government.

As your commissioner, I promise to listen to your concerns, learn from them and make the best decisions I can for the future of Deschutes County.

I commit to holding regular town hall listening sessions rotating between Redmond, Bend, La Pine, Sisters, Sunriver and rural areas. read more