Voters support Emergency Communication System upgrades

McMillan and Weddle lead races for Tonasket Council

election-results-clipart-1OKANOGAN – Voters are showing overwhelming support for a small increase in the county sales tax to pay for updates to the communication system used by police, fire and ambulance in early ballot counting of Nov. 5 general election.

As of the second ballot count, held on Friday, Nov. 8, the proposition had 7,125 votes (68.81%) in favor and only 3,240 (31.19%) against. Okanogan County Proposition 2, Sales Tax for Emergency Communications Systems and Facilities, will be used to replace aging radio repeater equipment that is based on 40 year-old technology and is at the end of its useful life. Not only is the system old, manufacturer’s support is ending for the current equipment in 2020. The communications system is used by all fire, EMS and police first responders in the county. According to county records, the system is crowded due to a 19.6 percent increase in the volume of events these agencies have responded to based on data for the years 2011 through 2018. Voters were asked to approve a two-tenths of one percent (.2 percent) sales tax to support the necessary improvements to the system.

The new emergency communication system will also be an improvement on the old which was a one channel system from the first responder to county dispatch. The new system will have a four channel radio system, “increasing talk capacity for first responders to coordinate their response” leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness. The four channel radio system will allow law enforcement, fire, EMS and Emergency Management to each have their own channel.

Voters within the Tonasket city limits were asked to decide between Jeff McMillan and Deanna Swallom for City Council Position 2 and between Alisa Weddle and George Hill for City Council Position 4. Mary Lou Kriner, an incumbent, ran unopposed for City Council Position 5. All three positions are four-year terms.

McMillan is leading in the vote count with 161 votes to Swallom’s 73 votes. Weddle currently has a narrow lead over Hill, 139 votes to 112.

In Oroville, three of the four council positions up for election were sought by incumbents that are unopposed. The incumbents are Michael Marthaller, for Position 2; David McElheren for Position 3 and Walter Hart III, for Position 4. Marthaler will be serving a two-year unexpired term, while the other two candidates will serve full four-year terms. Kolo Moser an unopposed for Position 5, a four-year term.

Tonasket School District had three school board positions that are up for election. All three are for four-year terms and all candidate ran unopposed. Louis Rhoads will serve in Director District 2; Joyce Fancher, an incumbent, in Director District 3 and Jennie Wilson, Director District 5.

The Oroville School District has two incumbents returning to office — Todd Hill, for Director District 1 and Dwayne Birmingham for Director District 5 At Large. Both school director slots are for four-year terms.

Hospital District 4 had two open positions and two incumbents who will continue to serve on the board, Dick Larson for Commissioner District 4 and Adam Tibbs for Commissioner District 5 At Large. These non-partisan positions are for six-year terms.

Ted Christiansen will return as a commissioner for Cemetery District 4 (Oroville Riverview Cemetery) in Position 3. The position is for a six-year term.

In addition, the Cemetery District, a junior taxing district had a ballot measure requesting a .03 cent per $1000 in assessed valuation levy lid lift, bringing it to .102100 cents/$1000. This was the district’s first request for a tax increase in 25 years, according to the district’s commissioner. Voters are so far in favor of the proposition with 453 votes in favor, or 60.32 percent, and 298 against, or 39.68 percent, against.

In other local elections, Rick Massey, Billie Kay Attwood and Jordan Wedle will all serve on the Tonasket Parks and Recreation board, in Positions 1, 2 and 3, respectively.

Robert Ellis and Bob Hilderbrand will serve as Okanogan County Fire District 1 (Oroville) Commissioners, Duane Van Woert and Darold Branderburg as Okanogan County Fire District 4 (Tonasket) Commissioners and Ken Davidson as an Okanogan County Fire District 11 (Molson-Chesaw) Commissioner.

The next vote count is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. The election results are unofficial until certified on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019.