SANDPOINT — Brian Orr has been off the Bonner County commission for six years, but he insists he hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to local government.
“They should know that I bring a wealth of experience to this position,” said Orr, an Oldtown Democrat who held the District 2 spot for six years before being ousted by Republican Joe Young in 2004.
Mike Nielsen wrested the GOP nomination from Young in last spring’s primary, setting the stage for a general election match-up against Orr, who had no primary challenger.
“I missed the position,” Orr said of his decision to run for office again. “I’ve always had a keen interest in local affairs and civic affairs.”
Orr served as Oldtown’s mayor for nine years, chaired the West Bonner County Library District for six and sat on the county Planning & Zoning Commission for three.
Orr admits he faded into the political background after losing his seat, but he’s ready to be at the forefront again. There have been murmurs during this election cycle that Orr is only running because he needs a job, but he disputes that notion.
“I’ve never ran for this position strictly for a paycheck,” he said.
Orr has no regrets with having a hand in the formation of the county’s EMS taxing district and is satisfied with its current leadership and direction of the system. He does not want to see the system become fractured along political and ideological lines.
Orr disputes Nielsen’s contention that the commission has been wasteful with tax dollars.
“Under the circumstances, they’re doing fairly well with the budget,” he said. “They’re doing the best they can with what they have to work with.”
Orr also supports the board’s current efforts to resolve the juvenile detention center dilemma.
The county, which is mandated to provide housing for underage offenders, is trying to secure the last slug of financing needed to build its own facility instead of having to transport kids to regional lockup in Dalton Gardens.
“Now is the time to do it,” Orr said of the new facility plan.
Orr said he would continue to try and make the county a place that attracts industry and enables kids who grow up here to find stable employment once they graduate from high school or college.
“We need to make it a place that they will want to come back to and can come back to,” said Orr.