Tony DeBone

Tony DeBone has held his seat on the Deschutes County Commission since 2011.

Two people are challenging Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone in the Republican primary this May.

Tom McManus, a retired health and safety consultant, and Scott Stuart, an insurance agent associated with the People’s Rights organization, have both filed to run in the hopes of unseating DeBone, who has held the position since 2011.

Whoever wins the primary may face Oliver Tatom, the only Democrat to file for the race so far, in the general election this fall.

Tom McManus

McManus, 66, said he wants to run for the Deschutes County Commission to bring an independent yet conservative voice to the commission.

“It’s not about the politics. It’s about the issues,” McManus told The Bulletin. “We have to stress what’s good for the constituents of Deschutes County.”

McManus was prompted to run after feeling like he was unheard by the commission regarding an issue with his homeowners association in Fall River Estates. If elected, he said his goal would be to be more responsive to constituents and address their issues to the best of his ability.

“I’d really stand up for the community,” he said.

Originally born and raised in New Jersey, McManus moved to Arizona to earn his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Arizona, he said. He then lived 30 years in Las Vegas working in environmental health and safety for a variety of companies and institutions as a consultant, including for the city of Las Vegas and the U.S. Department of Energy, according to McManus.

Now retired, McManus moved to the Sunriver area about 30 miles outside of Bend roughly 10 years ago.

McManus said he believes his experience in business and management makes him a good candidate for the position.

If elected, McManus said his goals as commissioner would be being a good steward of tax dollars and to create a vision on how to responsibly manage growth in Deschutes County.

He said he doesn’t want Central Oregon to turn into Phoenix, Arizona, which is dominated by overdevelopment and sprawl, and wants to preserve the region’s outdoor and recreational opportunities.

“It’s why it’s such a good place to live,” McManus said.

Scott Stuart

Stuart, 62, said his reason for running is to reinstill “law and order.”

The Redmond resident is a member of the organization People’s Rights, a national far-right group founded by activist Ammon Bundy in 2020 aimed at pushing back against COVID-19 related restrictions.

Originally from east Portland, Stuart moved to Central Oregon 2½ years ago to be closer to his grandchildren, he said. He works as an insurance agent for Christian Ministries Insurance, which works exclusively with Christian-related nonprofits and organizations.

Stuart made the news last year when controversy struck over his wielding of a confederate flag in Redmond’s Fourth of July parade .

Stuart is also known for his vocal protests against mask mandates and vaccinations at school board meetings and other venues. He said he has spent much of the pandemic staging maskless protests at stores like Costco and working with businesses to not follow mandates, which he claims are unlawful and infringe upon personal liberties.

He believes masks and vaccines for COVID-19 do not work.

Experts say both are effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the hospitalizations and deaths from the disease.

“It’s not about safety,” Stuart said. “It’s about conformity.”

If elected, Stuart said his goal would be to defend the rights he believes are being infringed upon. In particular, he highlighted wanting to solve homelessness, address water rights and working to get rid of mail-in voting due to “election integrity issues.”

Officials and experts report instances of election fraud are rare with mail-in voting.

When asked for specific ideas to address homelessness, Stuart said details could not be released yet, but that in general it goes back to following “law and order.”

“There are laws on the books that prevent homeless people from making camps every which way they want and those laws are being overlooked,” he said. “They’re not being enforced. It comes down to leadership.”

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Brenna Visser has been a government reporter in Bend since 2019. When not busy reporting, you can find her hiking with her dog or systematically trying all of Bend's breweries.

(2) comments


Tony DeBone is looking better by the minute.


The lesser of 3 evils, yikes

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