Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Pat Caldwell


Political life in Baker County rolls on as elections are held, meetings scheduled and resolutions ratified but always there is the shadow - seemingly distant yet oppressive - of economic development that hovers on the margins like a specter.

In one form or another economic development - the process to create and retain living-wage jobs for the county - stretched into almost every discussion and lingered near a political race that is as exceptional in terms of both its familiarity and potential to shift the course of county government.

At the same time, economic development is a factor that city elected leaders must reckon with at nearly every meeting. That kind of awareness is a signal that if there is problem that continues to defy simple fixes, it is economic development in Eastern Oregon.

There's no shortage of theories on how to stimulate economic prosperity. The issue has been the silent partner at every recent county commissioner candidates forum. In the commission race, homebuilder and businessman Bill Harvey is running to unseat incumbent Fred Warner from his position as the Baker County Commissioner Chairman, while Dick Fleming and Gene Stackle are running against Mark Bennett for Commissioner Position No. 2.