Forum features state, as well as local candidates

Editor’s Note: The Oroville Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate’s forum in Oroville last Thursday night featuring six hopefuls for local office, as well as candidates seeking state offices. Since we’ve covered previous forums featuring local candidates, this week we take a look at what the candidates for state office, or their surrogates, had to say. Next week we will have the local candidates for Okanogan County Commissioner Positions 1 and 2, as well as the two candidates for Okanogan County PUD, Position 3. G.A.D.


Gary DeVon/staff photos  People who attended last Thursday’s Candidates Forum at Vicki’s Backdoor Club took the opportunity to speak with candidates who make themselves available after the event was over.
Gary DeVon/staff photos
People who attended last Thursday’s Candidates Forum at Vicki’s Backdoor Club took the opportunity to speak with candidates who make themselves available after the event was over.

OROVILLE – The Oroville Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum took place at Vicki’s Backdoor Club on Thursday, Oct. 6 and had an attendance of about 50 people in search of more information on those running in this November’s general election.

Clyde Andrews, president of the Oroville Chamber made it clear that it was not a debate. He said each candidate had 10 minutes to introduce themselves and talk about why they were seeking office. If the candidate did not use the full 10 minutes they could open it up to questions from the audience for the remaining allotted time.

Joel Kretz (R)

Joel Kretz
Joel Kretz

Joel Kretz, the incumbent candidate for seventh-district state representative, position 2, was the first to speak.

After introducing himself, the Wauconda rancher said, “The last two years have been kinda a blur.”

He discussed the McCleary decision by the state Supreme Court which is penalizing the legislature $100,000 a day until the legislature can find a way to fully fund basic education, which is a state constitutional mandate.

“The first go around was a wake up call,” he said about the court’s decision. “The second go around they are deciding where the money should go. I think that should be left in the hands of the legislature.”

He discussed the Carlton and Okanogan Complex fires that set records in the state for size and devastation in 2014 and 2015, respectively. In addition, the legislator talked about wolves in Eastern Washington.

“They have a real mess in Ferry County and tensions are running high. One family has lost between 50 and 100 head of cattle and that’s from just one pack… it’s a huge impact,” he said.

Kretz said four environmental groups have made a pact with the state that if situations such as what’s happening in Ferry County arise then they would support lethal removal of the problem animals. He credits the groups with their position, but points to others in Western Washington that disagree with removing wolf packs that kill livestock.

“It’s been quite a ride, I’ve enjoyed serving and I’ve learned so much,” said Kretz.

Steve McLaughlin (R)

Sandy Belzer, a surrogate for Steve McLaughlin, who is running for Public Lands Commissioner, talked about her candidate. She said he was a 25-year retired Naval Commander and worked 10 years as a first responder for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“He helped write the Kosovo Agreement. General Wesley Clark said ‘When there’s a crisis I call Steve McLaughlin first.’”

Belzer said McLaughlin believes healthy forests and other DNR lands need maintenance. She said he believes that satellite imagery “turned down by Peter Goldmark (the current Commissioner)” would tell exactly where that maintenance was needed.

“It’s also in the constitution that we use public lands to make revenue for education. Maybe that would help with the McCleary problem,” said Belzer. “He’s determined to try and double that revenue if he can. He doesn’t know if he can, but it’s his goal.”

Belzer said McLaughlin’s opponent wants to get rid of what she calls an “archaic system” of using public lands to generate revenue for education.

“She wants to raise the B&O Tax or the Capital Gains. If Capital Gains is increased a state Income Tax is not far behind,” said Belzer.

Shelly Short (R)

Shely Short

Rep. Shelly Short the other candidate for the Seventh District seat in the House of Representatives, is running unopposed for reelection to Position 1. She gave a quick update on her role in the legislature.

“It’s great to be here, I’m running unopposed, but I just wanted to say what an honor it has been to serve the Seventh District over the last eight years,” she said.

She said the last session was important because of the relationships she built on both sides of the aisle. One thing she worked on was stopping the legislature from allowing Western and Eastern Washington to be categorized as one Climate Zone as far as building codes were concerned. She said making it one zone would be unfair as the climates on the two sides of the state are dramatically different.

“Rocky brought this to our attention and we stopped it, there are still two zones – one for Western Washington and one for Eastern Washington,” she said, referring to Rocky DeVon, owner of Re/Max Lake and Country Real Estate in Oroville.

“I’m always willing to work with Democrats to make a better bill,” she said, citing a Department of Health Bill she sponsored, but worked on with her Democratic colleagues, even though in the end it was vetoed by the governor, a Democrat.

Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb, who works for North Valley Hospital, asked Short about efforts to regionalize Behavioral Health.

“This would put our Critical Access Hospital in the county in trouble,” said Plumb, asking, “Do you know of anything that has come up that would impact our ability to keep our hospital in Tonasket?”

“I know there has been a movement afoot to make changes in 2020, but I do not know of any effort to make it regional at this time. There is nothing in the legislature now. I have been on record as not supporting anything that takes away the ability of Tonasket and other community hospitals to provide care for their communities.”

Kim Wyman (R)

Laurie Thomas, Okanogan County Auditor, was on hand to discuss Kim Wyman’s bid for reelection as Secretary of State.

“I’ve known Kim personally for 10 years. She was Thurston County Auditor when I was elected. She’s been a great Secretary of State for almost four years,” she said.

Wyman is in charge of supervising state and federal elections in Washington State, as well as collecting and preserving the historical records of the state, according to Thomas.

“She’s the only candidate running with experience with elections and she has worked for voting reforms,” said Thomas. “We are one of three states that don’t require citizenship verification to get a driver’s license, she’s proposing to change that through REAL ID laws.”

Marty McClendon (R)

Marty McClendon
Marty McClendon

Marty McClendon, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, said he grew up in Wenatchee and Grand Coulee and was happy to make the long drive to Eastern Washington to talk about his candidacy.

“In the primary there were 11 people who were seeking to replace Brad Owen, the Democrat who was retiring. I finished in the top two, my opponent is a Seattle liberal attorney who would like to drive his progressive agenda,” said McClendon.

McClendon said he went to the University of Washington as a pre-med student and while there got a job in healthcare. After that he went into real estate and “sold real estate all over Puget Sound.” He also founded a church and has a radio program called “Eyes on Puget Sound,” which he describes as a program that covers social issues through a Christian Perspective.

“My faith has grown because of the things I’ve gone through,” he said.

McClendon said the Lieutenant Governor presides over the State Senate, chairs the Rules Committee and chairs the Economic Development Committee. He also fills in for the Governor when he is away.

“The Lieutenant Governor breaks all ties and sits on the Finance Committee,” he said.

The candidate said he disagrees with state agencies that hire lobbyists to try and push their agenda through the legislature, using state money to do so.

McClendon said he too supports voter reform. He cited the case of the gunman on the west side who shot people in a mall.

“For several days after the shooting they were saying he voted in three elections even though he wasn’t a citizen. It was later found out he was a citizen, but REAL ID laws would have made that information much sooner.”

Marty McClendon