Hear are two startling facts I came across recently for Okanogan County. The percentage of persons living below poverty level (2009-2013) is 20.7 percent, and in 2014, the percentage of persons 65 and over is 19.8 percent. A fifth of our population is elderly, and a fifth is poor. No doubt there is crossover – many are elderly and poor. But, to have a vibrant community, we need both healthy citizens of all ages, and a healthy environment. It’s that simple.
There are some excellent local services in the Methow Valley, both established and emerging, to support elderly and impoverished citizens. However, it is our elected commissioners we have entrusted with the power to ensure our community flourishes.
Our commissioners – who appointed new Board of Health members with a seeming lack of public health expertise. Our commissioners – who developed a comprehensive plan that ignored citizen input, existing water rights, and recent wildfire information, and are now facing a lawsuit over this very plan. Our commissioners- who did not support a much needed public transit system. Our commissioners – who have repeatedly cut the public health budget, forcing the Public Health District to dip into reserve funds.
This coming year is crucial for Okanogan County. We need leaders who will give voice to our concerns, and work with all of us to create a future for our county that we can support and be proud of. We have a chance to elect representatives that will ensure our elderly and impoverished have the services they need to maintain their health and their community access. If you would like to become more informed, I recommend you visit the “rocon2016.org” website. It is a website that was formed by a group of non-partisan citizens to identify, encourage and elect qualified individuals to run as candidates for Okanogan County Commissioner.