Take advantage of the opportunity to meet the candidates

Not sure how many of you were able to watch the Presidential Debate on Monday evening. While it may not have change your mind or solidified your opinion – it was an opportunity to educate ourselves on who is running for our nation’s highest office.

On a much smaller scale, and probably with a lot less fanfare, we’ve had several opportunities to meet our candidates in local forums. Unfortunately, the venues have had less than stellar crowds and that’s disappointing. Like the president, our local government boards make big decisions that can impact our lives, our wallets and our wellbeing. Doesn’t it make sense to learn as much as we can about them before we cast our vote?

Web-Editorial-Gary-MugNext Thursday, Oct. 6, the Oroville Chamber of Commerce will present their second candidates forum, this time at Vicki’s Backdoor Club, behind Vicki’s Unique Boutique on Main Street. The forum starts at 7 p.m. and the candidates for Okanogan County Commissioner and Okanogan County PUD have agreed to participate. On hand will be incumbent Position 1 Commissioner Sheilah Kennedy and challenger Chris Branch, as well as Ashley Thrasher and Andy Hover, candidates for Commissioner Position 2. Our two candidates for Okanogan County PUD Commissioner from the north end of the county, Aaron Kester and Jerry Asmussen have also agreed to attend.

While we’ve had a lot of letters from people supporting this candidate or that one, candidate forums are another tool that the educated voter can use in order to cast their ballot. Not only do we get to hear a little bit about the candidate’s background, but the would-be representative will be available to answer those questions you find most important. Why not set some time aside to attend the candidates forum and find out who you best want to represent you on the Okanogan County Board of Commissioners and the Okanogan County PUD Board for the next several years?

No Interlocal Agreement

Speaking of the county commissioners, their representative, Perry Huston, was at the last Oroville City Council meeting. He was there to ask the council to terminate the interlocal agreement the city and county have regarding the Emergency Medical Services District. This makes sense in several ways.

In the past, when Oroville EMS had an all volunteer crew of EMTs and ambulance drivers, the county and city worked together with an agreement regarding the ambulance building, who would bill for services, etc. The city collected levy money for that portion of the EMS that was inside the city limits while the county collected their levy monies from the unincorporated portions of the district. After the volunteer system fell apart and the county commissioners learned that their appointed Rural EMS Board members were not supposed to be making agreements, that was their jurisdiction, the city and county looked around for a different option. They put out a call for qualified ambulance service providers and eventually contracted with LifeLine Ambulance Services, a local private company. Now the levy money goes to LifeLine as payment for their services. While Oroville did the billing for both the county and the city before, now that is no longer necessary as LifeLine does their own billing. Apparently the biggest discussion now is how much each of the two government agencies, Oroville and the County, will pay for insurance on the shared ambulance building. Oroville feels that since one-third of the building is owned by the city, then one-third of the insurance bill is there. Makes sense to us.

Of course there will be further and much bigger decisions in the future, especially about things like ambulance and equipment purchases but for now, separating out the county and city in their dealings with LifeLine and their various portions of the EMS appears to be the best plan. This is especially true because of the makeup of the current Okanogan County Board of Commissioners – yet again, why it is so important that we educate ourselves before we vote in November.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.