It’s fair to say the candidates for Umatilla County commissioner come with some baggage.
Dan Dorran took home the most votes in the May primary. Ahead of the Nov. 3 runoff, he has support from much of the local political establishment. However, he was arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants in September after drinking at a golf tournament.
Dorran’s challenger, HollyJo Beers, is an active member of the Three Percenters. In addition to being involved in the failed recall of Gov. Kate Brown and anti-COVID lockdown protests, she’s called members of the nearby tribes “the most racist people” she’s encountered.
Pat Maier, who has spent 17 years doing business through her company 1-A Construction & Fire, came in third place in the primary and is now mounting a write-in campaign. She used a recent voter’s forum to compare systemic racism to being kicked off a youth baseball team as a kid.
And just for good measure, the fourth-place finisher in the May primary, Jonathan Lopez, publicized a racist letter he claimed was dropped anonymously in his mailbox before later admitting he wrote it himself.
Not a strong cast of candidates, but like the saying goes, someone has to win.
And in this instance we believe, his recent DUII arrest notwithstanding, Dorran is the strongest candidate to replace outgoing two-term commissioner Bill Elfering.
The Hermiston resident served on the Umatilla County Fair Board from 1998 to 2017, and during his time on the board, the fair’s annual attendance ballooned from around 20,000 at the most to more than 80,000. Dorran was also a member of the steering committee that worked on the $21 million development of the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center in Hermiston that is now home to the fair.
Most recently, Dorran served on the county’s charter review committee in 2019, giving him a detailed education on the county’s structure and bylaws. He currently sits on boards for the Farm-City Pro Rodeo and Umatilla County 4-H Association.
Beers has been politically engaged with Umatilla County’s chapter of the Oregon Three Percenters, a group she now leads locally that is devoted to resisting infringements on the Constitution by the U.S. government.
In Umatilla County, the Oregon Three Percenters have particularly petitioned and lobbied for greater protections of the Second Amendment, which Beers claims as essential to protecting the rest.
Nationally, the Three Percenters have been associated with protests against immigrants and refugees, and were notably sympathetic toward Ammon Bundy and the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies them as an “anti-government extremist group,” although Beers disputes that description.
It’s Dorran’s long-standing engagement in the county that caused us to endorse him in the spring and is leading us to endorse him again, despite his recent arrest. Voters should remember that Dorran was involved in a two-car collision on Sept. 26. Everyone involved was fortunate that there were no injuries; it could have been much worse. Voters should also remember it wasn’t Dorran taking the initiative to issue a statement that broke the news, but the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.
Once forced to acknowledge the arrest, Dorran did and said all of the right things — taking “full responsibility,” the arrest was a “hard awakening” and he’s “100%” owning the choice to get behind the wheel.
If that’s the case, then we applaud that. As far as we know, there is no history of DUII in Dorran’s past, and everyone deserves a second chance. But we also believe that elected officials should be held to a higher standard, which is why we published the news and are bringing it up again now.
However, our endorsement is based not on Dorran’s past mistake, but on the future. Going forward, we believe Dorran will do the best job in leading the county.