I hope the voters will replace Sheila Kennedy as county commissioner. In watching the commissioners over the last four years, it seemed like to me that they really didn’t want to hear what people in the county had to say-they had their own agenda. When people here in Tonasket wanted to build a new pool, we needed to have a way to fund the yearly maintenance. We decided to put a proposal to the people to form a recreation district and to fund a maintenance levy. When we took this to the county commissioners (we needed their approval to get it on the ballot) they were most reluctant to allow us to submit it to the voters in our local area. They acted as if they knew better-can’t you fund it with user fees? Thanks to an excellent presentation by the pool committee and a petition of more than 500 names, the commissioner gave their approval. Then thanks to overwhelming support by people in our community the proposal and levy passed. The people had their say-democracy worked. I want commissioners who are willing to listen. I think Chris Branch is that sort of person.Chris Branch for Okanogan County Commissioner.
Vote for Kennedy
I have friends from all walks of life and beliefs and believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and it isn’t my job to change them. Therefore, I normally do not have anything to do with politics outside of researching and voting my own ballot.
I do feel compelled to write this letter in support of Commissioner Sheilah Kennedy after witnessing the lies and misinformation being spread around our county this year.
I sit on the Okanogan County Fair Board. Every time a situation has come up I was always able to pick up a phone any time of the day or night and get answers, solutions or even a physical presence to help from Commissioner Kennedy. Were there issues with communication that led to frustration and anger over the years that I’ve been a board member? Absolutely! But the fault lies with all parties involved – past and present – from the commissioners, to staff, to the board and even to the public.
There were and will continue to be many learning curves regarding state law as it applies to public funds within county as our Commissioners continue to work to get Okanogan County and all its departments operating above board.
It is all of our responsibility to educate ourselves on the facts instead of relying on gossip and rumors.
I respect Sheilah’s work ethic, honesty and integrity.
The local and state races this year are bigger than the “he said, she said” and “I feel wronged because I didn’t get my way” hype going around Okanogan County.
The races are about two commissioners and a citizen who dared to challenge the established machine in Olympia and locally that is kept well-oiled by Westside special interest groups such as Futurewise and Conservation NW.
It’s about the recent Hirst decision by Washington Supreme Court justices that impacts private landowners and whether they will be granted the right to access the water they paid for without incurring costs that will bankrupt the average citizen.
It’s about keeping all rural lands pristine (I.e. mismanaged and uninhabited) for the enjoyment of the few philosophical, self-proclaimed philanthropists within our state whom often are paid millions of taxpayer dollars for placing their “wise” and “progressive” restrictions upon their own lands for eternity.
It’s about blurring local, state and federal jurisdictional boundaries where Okanogan citizens will no longer have the protections of a local, state or federal government with functioning checks and balances.
Don’t be fooled by the titles “Independent” or “Nonpartisan,” for the candidates and the organizations that support them are anything but what they claim to represent.
Look at the county level races that were not challenged and ask yourself why.
I encourage you to vote for Sheilah Kennedy and Jon Wyss.
Branch a breath of fresh air
A recent article in the newspaper called attention to legal costs our incumbent county commissioners have passed on to taxpayers, including recent issues regarding salary for an employee in the county court which has now cost more to litigate than it would have to pay the original amount in question.
As she has advertised, Shiela Kennedy has been a very active county commissioner. Those actions, however, have been counter to my interests as a resident of Okanogan county. She has used my tax dollars to support the American Lands Council, which seeks to transfer responsibility and costs of management of federal public lands to local entities. She has neglected including health professionals on the board of the health department. She has increased costs through contracting out services to private entities which were previously performed in house, such as weed control. Through failure to consider the comments of constituents, she has made decisions which have led to litigation in multiple areas. And she has decreased the transparency of county government through a sharp increase in the number of executive sessions of county commissioners–where we don’t know what is discussed.
Shiela Kennedy doesn’t take kindly to criticism. Shiela tends to see conspiracies of “outside interests”, “west side” funding and the like when we say we don’t like what she does.
I have lived full time and owned property in Okanogan county for over nine years. And I am strongly opposed to the incumbent candidacy of Shiela Kennedy for county commissioner. Chris Branch will bring a much needed breath of fresh air to the office of county commissioner.
Can’t go wrong with Branch
While I was on the Twisp Town council, I served as Twisp’s representative to the Okanogan County Transportation Board. I served with elected representatives from Oroville, Tonasket, Omak, Okanogan, Brewster, Pateros, Twisp, and Winthrop. For two years, we traveled through rain and snow, ice, sweltering heat and chip sealing to get to meeting after meeting in Omak. The dedication of these representatives was impressive. And then there were the county commissioners.
We volunteers worked hard to implement the voters will and build the new bus system from scratch. While I worked my tail off as committee chairman overseeing the selection of a new General Manager, the county commissioners were actively undermining our work. They refused to support the finalization of the voter approved tax. They refused to give the board an operating loan through the county, forcing us to go to a private lender (at greater expense) until tax revenues came in to support our efforts. When Michael Blake, our interim General Manager, sought to hire an office assistant, they wouldn’t support the hire unless the position paid “no more than $10.00 per hour” for a temporary job with no benefits.
There is only one incumbent county commissioner left on the ballot in this election. As a volunteer who worked countless hours in my duties as a transportation board member, and saw first hand the commissioners efforts to obstruct our work, I’ll be casting two votes this election– one to clean house in the commissioner’s office and with the same ballot I get to vote for a GOOD candidate in Chris Branch, who knows the county like the back of his hand. You can’t go wrong voting for this good and decent man.
Letter was misleading
I’m Ashley Thrasher’s campaign manager, Jamie Petitto. This letter is a response to another campaign manager, Jeff Brender (Sheila Kennedy). His 10/19 Letter to the Editor and a related Chronicle article contain at least the following inaccuracies:
Jeff claims Ashley received 30 percent of campaign donations from Western Washington, criticizing the people in that geographic location. His judgments aside, these figures are wrong, according to the PDC (Public Disclosure Commission) website, https://www.pdc.wa.gov/, Ashley’s campaign received $6,100 of her total $30,205 from a Western Washington address. This is 20 percent, not 30 percent. And these “Western” donations include contributions from families like the Pigotts – landowners and active members of the Methow Valley community for decades.
The recent Chronicle article even counted donations from Ashley’s uncle as “Westside Money.” Paul Butler has been a full time Mazama resident and business owner in the Methow Valley for over 20 years.
Hasn’t this continual counting of “Westside” contributions become a bit meaningless? Our second homeowners spend plenty of local time riding horses, hunting, snowmobiling, ranching, gardening, hiking, skiing, spending money, paying taxes and employing members of the community. Why wouldn’t they have a justifiable interest in our county government?
The Thrasher/Hover campaigns continue to run a mutually respectful operation, despite this year’s negative political atmosphere. Ashley extends this courtesy to Sheila’s campaign. I am surprised Jeff casts stones not even political rivals wish to throw. Our next Commissioner needs a forward-looking, intelligent and collaborative approach, assuring a positive future for Okanogan County. We will not lose ourselves in the quibbling of political fabrications.
Let’s remember that we are all in this together: from North to South; from East to Westsider…
ROC benefited voters
Thanks to those who have spent untold hours fostering transparency, accountability, and responsiveness in our county government by volunteering for Represent Okanogan County (ROC.)
This group welcomed Okanogan residents and voters of various persuasions since its inception, putting political differences aside to accomplish these goals. It’s been the belief of ROC supporters that public involvement with the current election would eventually lead to less litigation, more efficient use of tax dollars, and more responsiveness to the needs and wishes of the county’s citizens and employees.
During the year following ROC’s first meeting in June, 2015, there were no known candidates for the 2016 election. The goal was to attract candidates of any party to run for County Commissioner to create a more favorable situation for public participation; resulting in more choice of candidates and more public engagement in this election than we’ve seen in years.
Because minutes of Commissioners’ meetings were typically delayed by weeks or months, the organization’s volunteers took turns taking notes at commissioners’ meetings, posting them on rocon2016.org within a few days. The first result was that an ongoing discussion of sending juvenile offenders to Martin Hall in Medical Lake was brought to the public’s attention.
Another goal was to review commissioners’ prior decisions, requiring both document requests and analysis of the resolutions. ROC made interesting discoveries, including: a 2013 resolution to hold a public hearing regarding formation of a budget to address the actions of federal and state agencies (this was never done, but expenditures occurred); and a resolution obligating an important public servant to “exhibit unquestioned loyalty” to the Board while receiving a raise from the salary of one of the commissioners.
This organization has benefitted the citizens of this county; we are more aware and informed because of the work they have done.
Educate yourself, then vote
As the voting deadline fast approaches and the letters to the editor heat up and fill more space than ever, we all need to remember one fact. Your vote matters– hugely (not bigly, as some would say).
Voting for local officials is extremely important because their positions on issues will have more impact on you and your life than that of state or federal representatives. At best, being an elected official can often be a thankless job, trying to fairly balance the desires and valid concerns of all the citizens they represent. This year, we are privileged to have multiple candidates vying for office on our ballot. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude for being willing to take on this important responsibility.
Now it is time for we, the people, to do our part. This includes taking the time to educate ourselves about candidates and issues. The voters pamphlet is a good way to begin– but there is an abundance of information available out there. And then do your civic duty and vote!
Your vote truly matters. In past elections and even as recently as the previous primary, races have been decided on surprisingly small majorities. Even with less than perfect choices, it is important you make the choice that you believe is best. Only if everyone participates by casting their vote will our democracy work as intended by our founding fathers.
Please exercise your right to vote to keep our country strong.
Karen Mulcahy & Rick Rottman