By Don Iler • News Editor • 

Willis brings West Valley voice to race

Bill Willis, one of five candidates for position 1 on the board of commissioners, has deep roots in Yamhill County. He’s a third generation resident with a variety of local experience, both in business and public service.

“I’m the most experienced candidate running for the position,” he maintained. 

The Willamina resident served on the Willamina School Board for eight years, worked at Hampton Lumber for 12 years and worked in corrections for the U.S. Department of Justice for 20 years. He also operates Yamhill County Beekeeping and manages his own tree farms in Polk and Yamhill counties.

He founded the Willamina’s Bulldog Mat Club, a venue for young wrestlers. And he leads a competitive youth Bible team.

As a county commissioner, he would focus on bringing jobs and business to the county. He would like to see the county and its cities work together in order to identify land that could be attractive to businesses and provide tax incentives for them.

“We aren’t going to change the problems in our county by growing government,” he said. “We are going to change them by growing private industry.”

In addition to creating areas to make it more attractive for businesses to locate, Willis would also like to see the county ensure there is more investment in training for the jobs and trades of the future. 

He sees county government as where the “rubber meets the road” and county commissioners as liasons between the people, their local government and officials at the state and federal level.

He also said the county needs to make good use of its money and plan ahead. “We need to make government for both the good times and bad,” he said.

Willis said he is the first commissioner candidate to emerge from the West Valley. He said rural areas in general and that part of the county in particular have been underrepresented. 

“We need to have people thinking about more than just the bypass ... or what’s good for McMinnville or Newberg,” he said. 

Willis said the county could use its influence to bring more investment and business to rural areas. For example, he said Willamina no longer has a local bank, but could use one. 

Willis envisions the role of county commissioners as creating and overseeing policy and making sure that policy is carried out efficiently. While he has no personal agenda to push, he said, he views strengthing families, the elderly and supporting veterans as worthy goals. 

“A lot of veterans are coming home and not finding work,” he said. “We need to make sure those vets have good jobs.”

He said investment in education and training for the unemployed is also important. 

Willis said he supported the Wallace Bridge project. Unfortunately, he said, government red tape held up a project there that would have fostered tourism and generated jobs.

“We need government to get out of the way of private industry so private industry can grow in our county,” he said.

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