Editor’s note: The Pilot previously ran stories on Curry County incumbents Sue Gold and Court Boice. Those stories can be found by searching their name online at www.currypilot.com.
Shelía Megson is running for Curry County Commissioner, Position 2, against John Herzog and incumbent Sue Gold on May 19.
Megson has administrative and procedural experience in business and politics, is familiar with all procedures of the state and the county at the Commissioner level. Megson worked to pass bills to help funding and resources for ports, farm to school, good neighbor authority, the Brookings emergency room, SANE nurses and workforce housing.
Megson is committed to the idea of utilizing the county’s natural beauty and resources while sustaining them responsibly and productively through economic development.
Q: Why are you seeking office?
A: From the moment I got here, I fell in love with this county. I knew I wanted to stay here the rest of my life. I had some other jobs, but when I was hired to be the Administrative Assistant to the Curry County Board of Commissioners, it was like finding the right key for the right lock — all my prior experience, all of my talents suddenly found an avenue in which the purpose matched the direction and energy. So, when I was asked to become the Chief of Staff for Representative David Brock Smith it was a tough decision because I did not want to move away from Curry County, but I knew that I could help our home even more as part of that team. We found a great balance; during sessions, I would work at the Capitol Building throughout the week and come back home every weekend. In the interim, nearly all of my work is through digital mediums and I only had to go to Salem for various short legislative days. I was able to apply my enthusiasm for Curry at the state level and since have continuously worked hard to advocate for our needs on things like workforce housing, funding for port projects, the Rogue River sediment study, sexual assault nurses and the Brookings emergency room — just to name a few. There were also many times at the State where I would fight against undue burden upon our rural area as well as individual rights.
Health problems within the family have now made it necessary to cut back my numerous lengthy trips to Salem. With the election coming, I know that the best application of my experience, skillset and passion would be as a County Commissioner. I did not want to run “against” anyone, I wanted to run “for” a well-balanced team with different complementary interests and fortes. I talked to both commissioners that would be up for election. Court Boice had already filed for his seat and was as enthusiastic as ever to continue his work. He was OK with continuing to handle most of the things that would require travel, such as AOC. When I asked Sue Gold, she was noncommittal and hadn’t decided if she wanted to serve again in that capacity. After hearing that, I had decided that I was going to file for her seat and did discuss it with her. With the other two Commissioners and myself, the right mix of abilities would come together as a group that not only deeply cares about our home but present the county with three commissioners willing to put in the work needed.
This is all to say that my reason for running is not a knee-jerk decision. My life, my work, and well-researched reasoning were applied to every step before I signed that paper at the Clerk’s office.
Q: What are the top three challenges you see facing Curry County, and what are your proposed solutions to those challenges?
A: That’s a really tough question because things can turn on a dime and modify what needs our immediate attention. As an example, who would have imagined the current COVID-19 dilemma? What it has done is highlight that the issues that I wanted to concentrate on are going to need some vigorous work.
First, our communications infrastructure is sorely lacking. Being able to work off-site or allow our children the option to learn from home requires that our internet service and cell phone coverage is vastly expanded. I was on a County task force when the fiber loop had been installed in the County. Charter had even come to the table with additional help to try to connect residents. Utilizing those assets along with applying funds that will be made available and directed toward broadband, we can get this done.
Second, our economic development has always been a need but will now be of the utmost importance with so many of our businesses devastatingly affected by the coronavirus. Sadly, many of the programs created to help businesses and employees had very rough starts. The result was a delayed receipt of funds or sometimes not at all. Supporting local, finding customers for our local products, and enticing new business starts will need to be a focus in everyone’s discussions.
Third would be workforce housing. Our smaller number of homes and limited availability of buildable land, combined with the high percentage of vacation homes and short-term rental ownership is making it extremely hard for all the people that provide the needed services in our communities to actually live in them. It has been a passion of mine and something that I worked on at the State (2017 HB 2377) even before I went to work for the Representative. That bill is only one piece of a very large puzzle and has not yet been implemented in the county, but I plan to help with that and maybe even get this task done before I am sworn in.
Q: What would you do differently than the incumbent commissioner(s)?
A: I’ll address what I will do as a commissioner in the next question and leave it for the voters to decide what the differences are. My goal is to obtain the best team for the county to move forward.
Q: What do you believe is the most important role of a county commissioner?
A: Being a County Commissioner is much more than showing up to a weekly meeting. You’ve got to be informed, do your research, and be knowledgeable and prepared as you come to the table to avoid requiring multiple additional meetings. I think that the ideas, information provided and items on the agenda are a direct reflection of how hard a commissioner works. A commissioner needs to be engaged. Various organizations, other governmental entities, and especially their liaison departments are all groups that need to have continuous interaction in order to work together and understand what actions may be needed. All actions taken should meet the criteria of not only “is this good for the entire county?” but also “are we protecting the rights of all of our residents?” No governmental position should ever become so comfortable and confident with their actions that they lose sight of the effects those decisions have over individual residents. My life experiences range from broke and homeless to well-providing for my family as a single mother. It has blessed me with the ability to see many different situations that apply to so many of the people in this county, and they’ll not be forgotten in every vote I make.
Q: How will you conduct your campaign to reach voters and how much money do you plan to spend in this race?
A: I filed a committee with the Secretary of State to report all my election donations and spending on OreStar within days of my decisions to file. So far, I’m the only candidate for this position to do so. Right now, expectations are that around $5,000 will be spent for the entire campaign. I’ve included myself In the Voters’ Pamphlet and tried to help people understand the experience and continuous work for the benefit of Curry County that I bring to the table. I have filled out numerous questionnaires and made many posts on social media. Until recently, the posts were mostly concerning helpful information during the stressful time of the coronavirus, but I am aware of the need to include direct asks of the voters to support me on their ballot. Yard signs have recently gone up and I am blessed with people displaying them at their homes and businesses. Campaigning during this time has been unlike any others in my life since I am not afforded the opportunity to knock on doors and hear face-to-face the concerns of my neighbors in the entire county.