Letter to the Editor: Pat Shannon

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I am running for re-election for Gilliam County commissioner, in the aftermath of a very contentious recall. As I and my supporters reach out to voters, we are hearing feedback and complaints about my oversight of the road department.

I would like to take this opportunity to provide context for my decisions, done with the intention of ensuring Gilliam County is in compliance with health and safety regulations for the safety of road department employees, landowners, residents of county, and for the ongoing health of the land we all share.

When I originally campaigned for the position of Gilliam County commissioner, part of my platform was my business experience which included managing employee and environmental safety in high-risk environments. I took on several roles as commissioner, including oversight of the road department.

In October 2023 there was a discharge of unused product that impacted a landowner’s property. DEQ had to be involved in addressing the cleanup to ensure the safety of the groundwater. I made the decision to proactively request an OSHA consultation and an audit by an outside environmental organization of all road department practices to avoid any future occurrences, and to avoid possible fines to the county resulting from noncompliance.

I informed the Road Master that I was going to schedule safety and environmental consultations. It took me over a month to schedule the OSHA consultation and two months to find a company that would perform the environmental consultation and get it scheduled. The OSHA consultation was scheduled for a Friday which is not a work day. I made sure the Road Master and Department Administrator were willing to attend and they agreed to do so. Neither consultation was a surprise inspection.

The results of those consultations were a number of critical safety issues that needed to be resolved. It can be challenging to follow new rules, especially when the job has been done one way for a long time. Initiating new safety practices can cause more work and a change in familiar actions for employees. Naturally there may be pushback at these times, and there was, with frustration directed toward me.

While I would rather not have to be seen as the bad guy for calling for health and safety consultations and requiring follow through on the recommendations, the consequences of not doing so could come at a high cost to health or lives, and financial consequences to our county.

This issue reflects a bigger issue, central to the recent recall. If a commissioner is seen as “micromanaging” and can be recalled when they are making difficult decisions and asking the departments under their supervision to follow through on the responsibilities of their position, then it will be a challenge for any commissioner or judge to fulfill their duties.

I will always have the best interest of the county in mind.

(541) 215-2342

Respectfully submitted,

Pat W. Shannon

Arlington, Oregon

 

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