LaDon Linde was sworn in as a Yakima County commissioner Thursday in Yakima County Superior Court.

Linde, the director of medical staff services at Astria Sunnyside Hospital, will represent District 3, which covers the eastern portion of the county.

He replaces Norm Childress, who died of pancreatic cancer Sept. 15.

“I look forward to working with our commissioners,” Linde said.

Commissioner Ron Anderson and Vicki Baker chose Linde over candidates Autumn Torres, a human resources director at a Harrah fertilizer company, and Jim Restucci, a Sunnyside City Councilman who also serves on the state Transportation Commission and is chairman of the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments.

Linde said his first course of business would be meeting the various department heads and becoming acquainted with the entities within county government.

He said he’s eager to help the county move forward in reopening its economy. Although the county has seen recent increases in COVID-19 cases, he believes businesses, schools and churches can still safely open.

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Linde points to the hospital where he works as an example. He said not many hospital employees contract the virus there. Workers follow safety guidelines and are screened twice a day.

“If you can do that in hospitals, then we can do that in businesses, churches and schools,” he said. “If we can follow precautions, then we can move forward while keeping people safe.”

Linde said he and other commissioners plan to discuss such safety measures with the Yakima Health District in effort to move the county forward.

He has yet to learn which committees and projects he’d take over as commissioner, he said. Childress worked on the Ground Water Management Area, an effort to rid Lower Valley groundwater of high nitrates and other pollutants.

Local environmental groups have blamed Lower Valley dairies for much of the problem. Now dairies are challenging the science behind an EPA study that has been cited in lawsuits forcing dairies to make expensive equipment upgrades and operation changes.

“Although I have a background in dairies, I haven’t been in the industry for 14 years,” he said. “I’d have to study the issue before making a comment on that.”

Reach Phil Ferolito at pferolito@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @philipferolito