Oroville City Council candidates introduce themselves and answer questions at forum

Three out of four candidates for Oroville City Council were on hand to introduce themselves and answer questions from the audience

Candidates for Oroville City Council Walt Hart, Tasha Shaw and Robert Fuchs at the Candidates Forum sponsored by the Oroville Chamber of Commerce and the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune. Hart, the incumbent is being challenged by Fuchs, a former councilman, for Position 4 on the council. Shaw, is being challenged by Paul Bouchard, who wasn’t in attendance, for Position 1. Tonasket Councilwoman Teagan Levine, standing, served as moderator. <em>Gary De Von/staff photo</em>

Candidates for Oroville City Council Walt Hart, Tasha Shaw and Robert Fuchs at the Candidates Forum sponsored by the Oroville Chamber of Commerce and the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune. Hart, the incumbent is being challenged by Fuchs, a former councilman, for Position 4 on the council. Shaw, is being challenged by Paul Bouchard, who wasn’t in attendance, for Position 1. Tonasket Councilwoman Teagan Levine, standing, served as moderator. Gary De Von/staff photo

Editor’s Note: This is the second in our series of articles on the candidates who participated in a forum held at the Oroville American Legion Hall on Oct. 5. Three out of four candidates for Oroville City Council were on hand to introduce themselves and answer questions from the audience. They were incumbent Walt Hart and Robert Fuchs, who are running for Council Position 4 and incumbent Tasha Shaw who is running for Council Position 1. Paul Bouchard, who is also running for Council Position 1, was not in attendance. We plan on finishing up with the candidates for Oroville School Board and North Valley Hospital Board in next week’s issue.

Each candidate was asked to introduce themselves and then they were asked three questions from the audience.

Robert Fuchs

Some people don’t know me and think I talk funny, the reason is that I’m originally from Germany. My wife and I left Germany in 1996 and came to the U.S. In 2000 we moved to Oroville. So, we have been here for 23 years. First, I worked at the brewery as the brewmaster, what the Germans do best, then 15 years at Prince’s and Hughes Department Store. After that, I drove the school bus for five years and worked security at Veranda Beach and the last two years I’ve worked at Midway Building Supply. I have already served two years on the city council. I have 10 years with the Oroville Fire Department.

What I would like to see on the city council is that we have more things to do not only for the tourists… some kind of attraction so the tourists stop, not just driving through. I’m a board member of The Oroville Initiative and we are working on things like that. We built the bike repair station; we built the picnic shelter on Kernan Street. We are working on several other things to bring more people to town. My wife and I also adopted a park, we adopted Triangle Park, where we mow the lawn and make sure it looks nice.

Tasha Shaw

Good evening and thank you for coming. For those who don’t know me I’m Tasha Shaw. I was born in Tonasket and raised in Oroville. I’m a 1997 Oroville High School alumni, after graduation, I went off to Spokane to college which led me over to the Seattle area. I worked for Costco for five years in many of their departments. Then I went to North Dakota. I was away altogether for about 15 years. I moved back in 2011. I remember growing up here and having a lot of things going on for the youths and the adults.

When I moved home, I realized that things had changed and there were things that I didn’t really care for. I felt drawn to start attending the council meetings back in 2014. I started out sporadically, then I made a commitment to myself that if I wanted to be informed and helpful I was going to go to those meetings so I would know what was going on in our city. A few years went by, COVID hit, and after things like that I started going back to meetings and I really got interested in being on the council. The first time a position came up I applied for it. I didn’t get picked, that was OK. Then, this past February I got appointed.

It’s a learning curve, you learn a lot of new stuff and I’m still learning, obviously. One of my goals is to increase communication in the community.

Walt Hart

Good evening I’m an Oroville resident from 1949. I graduated from Oroville High School Class of 1965. I have been active in the community most of that time except for a hiatus when I moved to Oregon for a while and that involved marrying my wife, Vicki. I moved back here in 1999. We own Vicki’s Unique Boutique on Main Street. A thrift store.

I’ve been on the city council since 2002. I was appointed when Dave Reynolds was appointed mayor after Jimmy Dale Walker retired. My first trip was with the mayor and we went to Seattle for an Association of Washington Cities convention. We had a really fun afternoon one time; we went all the way to the hotel and his Buick had power locks on it and as we pulled in the battery went dead and we couldn’t get out. We had the city clerk with us, Kathy Jones, and Kathy had a panic attack.

Anyway, that was kind of my introduction to the city council and that group. Speaking of the AWC, it is kind of a training school for council members, city clerks, mayors and city managers and we meet with some of the big cities every year. There are usually about 600 participants. I have gone every year since I was appointed in 2002. During COVID we had Zoom meetings. I have a pretty good record of going there and learning about things that impact our city, as well as things that impact the bigger cities.

One of the things I really like to do is parks. Back in 2007 we were coming up on Oroville’s centennial. I took over the Centennial Committee Chair and we were working on Centennial Park. As those of you who lived here back then know that was an old building foundation at that time. We tore out the foundation, poured lots of dirt and rock in there and filled it up and planted the lawn and got it ready for our celebration in 2008.

Anyway, parks are really the thing I like. I’ve worked on a lot of the parks we’ve acquired. One of those was Osoyoos Lake State Park, which is now Oroville Veterans Park and there’s been a lot of changes in other parks. I’m really proud of what we’ve done and I’d like to continue that.

What if any groups or organizations are you involved with that promote growth and/or promote Oroville and its citizens, tourism, civic projects, etc.?

Tasha Shaw

Right now I’m not involved in a lot of groups, I’m more focused on the schools because I have a sixth grader and a five-year-old now. So, I’m involved in the Booster Club and attend sporting events and support school spirit because our future lies with our children. In the future living here, I would probably find ways to get involved those areas where I can get more educated and involved in order to make proper decisions for our community.

Walt Hart

The main thing that I’m involved in is Oroville because this is my home. I’m a Legionnaire, I’ve been with this Post since 1999. I’ve been the Commander; I’ve held multiple offices at the Post. The Post does a lot of things for the community, but we aren’t the kind of group that goes around bragging about what we’re doing. So, you probably haven’t heard about all the things we do. We donate to a lot of different charities, we help sponsor different activities and we’re just involved in a lot of different things.

Previously I’ve been involved in the Oroville Kiwanis Club, but the Kiwanis Club no longer exists. We are really hurting in this town for service organizations. I like seeing the TOI (The Oroville InitIative) come on board, they are not a service organization as such, but they are certainly helping the community. I would like to get involved with them.

Robert Fuchs

I am a board member of The Oroville Initiative and what we do is apply for grants. This year we got $20,000 and with that money we built a picnic shelter. We placed an ad in a tourist magazine, and we applied for another grant of $20,000 to build more things for the town. One idea we had was adding exercise equipment in several different parks.

Another thing, that I really want to talk about with TOI, is spending money to buy movie equipment so there is a movie showing once a weekend at Veterans Park in the summer. We hope to get that money together, five to six thousand dollars. And, if for some reason we don’t get it together if I get elected, I will dedicate my paycheck every month to buy that equipment.

What do you see as a correctible issue and how can you accomplish it?

Walt Hart

We have a lot of issues, probably the biggest one in our community, I feel, is drugs… just like a lot of towns. It is not something we are going to cure overnight. I’ve got to say that our police department at this point has done more than any department we’ve had. But, the cure for that is that we do belong to the drug task force and they have done some good things this year. We feel that we are actually getting our bang for our buck. There were some years we didn’t feel they performed up to what Oroville wanted.

But the drug task force is doing a good job and we feel we’re going to see some changes in the future. What we got to do is get parents more involved however sometimes parents are the problem. And sometimes we have children who tell the police or their teachers that their parents have a drug problem. So, we got to get this corrected and I feel we’ll get a better community.

Robert Fuchs

One thing I have to complain about, especially at the south end of town, is there are a lot of dogs running around all the time, chasing joggers, my wife. I think something needs to be done to get those dogs more under control.

Another issue that I hear all the time from the people is some areas of Main Street. Some stores, their sidewalks look nice, and they have flowers and buildings get painted. Others look like flea markets. There are concerns of some people that these don’t look very attractive, and I think they should be made to look more attractive.

Tasha Shaw

I agree with the drug issue and our community. One thought that has come to mind from attending the conference was they showed some solar-powered cameras. My thought is what if we secured some and placed them like at the library? We could secure some of the activity that happens there. I like to see my little one there, playing on the slide and I want to know he’s going to be safe.

I have in the past walked through that park and picked things up. Just because you’re part of the community and want to make sure its safe. I have picked up some like bottle glass. So, if we had cameras it might make some people uncomfortable that they’re being watched. It’s kind of like being aware that there are cameras and it might send them down the road somewhere else and it might help our community.

What experience do you have with Oroville city government and what skills do you bring to the table?

Tasha Shaw

Well, I was appointed to sit on the city council back in February, so this is my first time running. I think from my life experience working 911 communications when I was back in North Dakota. A lot of my focus is on the community. I think bring that aspect to the council and can make use of my experience in other communities. To help our community to grow and continue to be safe for our children and our elderly.

Walt Hart

I’ve been on Oroville Council since 2001 so I have 23 years in city government. I’ve learned a lot… it’s a learning curve and there is no end to the learning. Things change all the time. That’s one reason I go to the Association of Washington Cities so I can bring back what I’ve learned. I have some other experience too. I served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 39 years. I did a tour of Iraq and I’m probably one of the few people in this room who gave a briefing to a Commanding General in a war zone. That’s not political but I learned a lot when I was there and it was a good way to associate with other leaders.

Robert Fuchs

The experience I have is that I’ve already served two years on the city council. When my term was up, I was working two jobs and had some health issues so that was the reason I didn’t run again. Now I only have one job, I’m doing fine, so I want to try again to bring new ideas.