Dale Potter joins race for county commissioner

Dale Potter

Dale Potter of rural Enterprise has tossed his hat into the ring for the chairman of the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners position currently held by Mike Hayward.

He joins Shelley Curtiss to form a three-person race for Hayward's seat. All three are registered Republicans.

Potter says he is a fourth-generation native of Wallowa County with ancestors first settling in the Imnaha country in the 1880s.

After attending his first two years of school in the one-room Divide schoolhouse on Little Sheep Creek, Potter graduated from Joseph High School in 1952. He earned a degree in agricultural education with a minor in fish and wildlife management in 1956.

In 1957 he joined the Air Force and spent much of the following 20 years flying helicopters all over the world, including in Vietnam. In 1977 Potter took a position as an instructor of an Air Force ROTC program in Spokane.

After three years in that position he moved to Saudi Arabia where he worked for six years for Northrop Aircraft, the final three years working practically as a personal secretary for a Saudi colonel and prince named Turki bin Nassar.

In 1986 Potter returned to college at Eastern Washington University and received a bachelors degree in anthropology. In 1988 he returned to Wallowa County to work for the U.S. Forest Service, doing resource studies for timber sales, and to spend time with his aging parents, Lawrence and Ilene Potter. He left the Forest Service in 1993 to give full time care to his parents.

For the past three years Potter has operated a bookstore and espresso bar in Joseph called Sheep Creek Publishing. His wife Kathryn is a registered nurse and runs an adult foster care facility on the edge of Enterprise.

Potter, 69, has four grown children from a previous marriage.

The former helicopter pilot professes to have significant philosophical differences with Hayward.

One comes in regards to the Wallowa Lake Dam. Whereas Hayward has gone on record staunchly in favor of the proposed Wallowa Lake Dam Rehabilitation Project, Potter contends that a privately owned dam should not be federally funded. He claims that the needs of irrigators are the most important aspects of Wallowa Lake Dam and further states that the possibility of reintroducing coho salmon to the valley, because of its ties with the Endangered Species Act, is "ludicrous."

The candidate describes himself as a private property advocate who would like to see Native Americans or others purchase the Marr Property between Joseph and Wallowa Lake to protect it from development. "If someone doesn't purchase the Marr Property I don't know how you could legally or morally prevent it from being developed," he said.

To generate economic activity in the winter months, Potter supports such ideas as competitive snowmobile races, cross country skiing promotion, dog sled racing and ice sculpturing.

Potter accents the need to bring jobs to Wallowa County. "No one can create local jobs unless we revive the timber industry," he says.

His prescribed methods to bring jobs back to the county sound similar to those voiced by Hayward and commissioners Ben Boswell and Dan DeBoie.

But he said of Hayward and Boswell, "They've been in there long enough and we still don't have any jobs."

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