New Commissioner on faith, land-use and adult business problems

NW Baptist Convention
Witness Newsletter

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. — Care for land handed down from his father and care for his fellow citizens launched a Northwest Baptist man from Oregon into the arena of county politics. Greg Malinowski, an organic cattle farmer, recently won election to a Washington County, Ore., commissioner position, with his term to begin in January. A long-time member of First Baptist Church of Beaverton, Ore., Malinowski hopes to bring a transparent style to the governing agency.

“I grew up in a Catholic family on the farm my father started in the 1940s,” Malinowski said. “I’ve had an interesting faith journey, because, while we were not staunch Catholics, there was no doubt in my mind that I was a sinner, which was drummed into my head. I have two aunts who are nuns, and we were considered the black sheep of the family.”

Entering adulthood, Malinowski began pursuing his faith, first through the Catholic church. But he soon began to see how difficult it would be to reform the teaching he encountered, so he soon looked elsewhere. After he began attending a Southern Baptist church, he gave his life to Christ at 20 years old.

Malinowski currently teaches a kindergarten Sunday school class with his wife, Jonella, and has served the church in other capacities.

After pesticides were removed from most public uses years ago, Malinowski took a course to become certified to use them. He was counseled to consider having his kidneys tested, since he had worked around pesticides since he was a eight years old. Upon finding his liver was already being affected, he pulled away from that portion of the farming operation and another brother took over. Within a year, that brother was also experiencing liver problems, so the decision was made to move toward organic farming.

“The pesticide farmers were pushing back, saying there was not enough poison left in plants to harm them,” Malinowski said. “That is not what Jesus is all about. We need to take care of each other. I see my vocation as a ministry because what we eat comes from God. Kids need to see the wonder of that.”

Malinowski takes time to share good farming principles with young people. While he now raises only cattle, acreage is also leased to small farmers who raise clean, organic food. He also worked in the high tech industry for 30 years before being laid off in 2008.

“I was always really political,” Malinowski said. “Instead of watching football, I would watch election night coverage. I worked as a volunteer in citizen participation efforts for 25 years to make our communities better. I decided to run for office because I couldn’t stand what I was seeing anymore. There were four people running, with two eliminated in the primaries. I knew it would be tough.”

Running on a campaign for good land planning and promoting small businesses, Malinowski won the election in November for the part-time position. He is passionate about seeing services provided in a fiscally responsible way for his district, which is in unincorporated Washington County.

“I am working to make better neighborhoods, because developers have come in and put in sub-divisions, with the promise to put in sidewalks and other services, and the city picks up a big portion of the tab. Over the last 30 years, we have promised to pay $30 billion in road costs, but are not collecting the money. This is not sustainable and is certainly not Christian.”

A problem Malinowski will be forced to face is the proliferation of adult entertainment businesses in his area.

“The county has not been enforcing codes for these businesses and it is forcing other local markets out,” Malinowski noted. “Values are going down because of this.”

The new commissioner has had to face the fact that other Christians fall on the opposite side of where he stands on some issues.

“I covet people’s prayers,” Malinowski said. “This is very difficult and possibly brings me into conflict. I really try and ask myself the question ‘What would Jesus do?’ I think we need to be a lot more transparent in our government and let voters know when we’re borrowing money in their name. Voters need to be engaged. Now is my chance to give back, and I appreciate all the excellent support I’ve had.”

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