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District 3 candidates talk housing, childcare

Candidates for the District 3 seat on the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners are challenger Nathan Pinkstaff (left) and incumbent Pamela Wev (right).

CLATSOP COUNTY — The issues of housing and childcare top the list for two candidates vying for the District 3 seat on the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners.

Ballots for the May primary election go out in the mail this week. Voters in District 3, which now encompasses most of Astoria after the lines were redrawn following the 2020 census, will have a chance to cast their vote for either incumbent Pamela Wev or newcomer Nathan Pinkstaff.

Wev has served on the commission since 2018 while Pinkstaff has not had any political experience.

Pinkstaff grew up on Oregon’s North Coast and works as a deck mechanic for Tidewater Barge Line. The position he is running for is non-partisan, but he is a registered Republican who wants to cut regulations — such as those that cover childcare.

“For example,” he told KMUN, “a Coast Guard wife that is at home and wants to watch six, seven kids — we’ve taken that away from her.”

He pointed to the city of Astoria’s efforts to offer daycare through Sprouts Learning Center and the struggles the daycare has faced financially and in its ability to retain staff. After the city announced plans to close the daycare by the end of June, another childcare organization stepped up to take over the facility.

As is the case for many candidates running for seats on the county commission, Pinkstaff said increasing the housing supply is a priority.

“In my mind, we need to table back the short term rentals,” he said. “And by that, I mean we need to open that back up to the rental market for residents trying to be here permanently. A lot of people that own the short term rentals do not live in this county.”

The county also needs to build new housing.

“We definitely need to develop and we need to find ways to develop especially the projects we currently have that are on hold,” he said and referenced a large potential housing project in the works at Tongue Point.

If elected, Pinkstaff said he would back increased density for housing under some conditions. He also thinks there are solutions for issues related to homelessness in the county.

“Microhousing is definitely one of them,” Pinkstaff said. “Temporary housing for them. I don’t like the word tent city … but I think we can come up with short term ideas while trying to get these people into other housing and microhousing is one of them.”

Wev, a land use planner by trade, pointed to efforts by the county to provide housing across the spectrum of people in need of a place to live.

She noted her own role in helping what was a troubled Northwest Oregon Housing Authority. The agency manages low-income housing in Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook Counties. Now, the agency is about to break ground on a new, 42-unit workforce housing complex in Warrenton, Trillium House. The housing authority also plans to expand the Owens-Adair apartment complex on Duane Street, providing more housing to seniors and people with disabilities.

Wev said that given her experience in working with the housing authority and her involvement with other housing discussions at the county-level, she is poised to be even more effective if re-elected.

Wev has also played a role in planning for a soon-to-be opened new county jail which will include expanded mental health services. Childcare services have been a topic of discussion on the commission during her tenure as well.

“That’s something that this commission is very interested in,” Wev said. “I think it’s the benefit of having … three women (on the commission).”

She believes Astoria should revisit the idea of building a bypass to reduce truck traffic through downtown.

“I certainly don’t see the benefit of tractor trailers, often carrying heavy logs, barreling down our main commercial streets,” she said, but acknowledged, “It is, however, a very complicated engineering issue.”