I’m Oliver Tatom, a paramedic and a registered nurse serving on the COCC board of directors and the Deschutes Rural Fire Protection District board of directors. I grew up in rural Deschutes County southeast of Bend, and eight years ago I chose to return home with my wife, Amy, so we could raise our children here.

The region has changed a lot since I was a kid, and much of that change has been for the good. We have a more diversified economy with plentiful opportunities for meaningful work. We enjoy world class restaurants, entertainment venues, and recreational facilities. And the forests, lakes, and mountains where we hunt, fish, and play are closer than ever.

Not all change is progress, however. The physical and social infrastructure has not kept up with the population, and it feels like our communities are now plagued by the very problems many of us left bigger cities to escape: A housing crisis and a childcare desert. Air choked with smoke and reservoirs empty of water. Anger and division. This is not the environment we chose for our kids.

We cannot go backward, but we can find a new path forward. We can produce abundant housing and protect our public lands. We can supply water to our farms and preserve streamflows in our rivers. We can show compassion and maintain accountability. We can overcome the challenges before us to create a safe and sustainable Deschutes County, but only if we commit to collaborating for the common good.

So let us build consensus and grow together. If we do that, we may find that we leave this a better place for our children.

This is why I am running for Deschutes County Commissioner.

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