My-TurnWhy I’m working to earn your vote

By Dwight Filer

I’d like to take this opportunity to say a few words about the upcoming election for the Twisp Town Council. As many of you already know, what promised to be the first contested election for a council seat in Twisp in recent memory has become something less with the withdrawal of Clay Hill from the race. I want to thank Clay for the energy and commitment he brought to the council during his short term at Town Hall. In particular, his work on the public transportation proposal that will come before the voters this fall, and his work on behalf of the town during the negotiations with Okanogan County Fire District 6, deserve credit. I wish Clay and his wife and daughter the best in their new adventure in Olympia.

You may have seen my campaign signs up around town. The signs arrived the day Clay announced his resignation, and I considered taking the easy path forward, and suspending my campaign. Since there will still be two names on the ballot (it was too late for Clay’s to be removed from the printing process), I decided I’d rather roll up my sleeves and earn your vote.

I intend to continue campaigning – I will go door-to-door, meet with civic groups, pass out campaign literature, and be true to the voters and citizens of Twisp during the process. I don’t want to take anything for granted, least of all the trust of the people I will serve when I take a council seat in January.

I am thrilled to be involved with Twisp affairs at this point in time. I believe we have the finest team at Town Hall this town has had during my many years as a resident here. The combination of Mayor Soo Ing-Moody, Public Works Director Howard Moss, Police Chief Paul Budrow, the remaining council members, the planning commission members, the long-time, steady staff at Town Hall that greets and assists all who come through the doors – we are incredibly fortunate to have such dedicated individuals working for us. The individual contributions combine to make a collective team effort that should make us all proud!

If you would like to learn more about me or my vision for Twisp, Okanogan County has a website with candidate biographies and statements (www.okanogancounty.org). For more in-depth information, go to www.dwightfiler.com. When your ballots come out, please remember to cast your vote. When this election is over, I plan on serving with the same energy I am putting into this campaign.

Dwight Filer lives in Twisp.

 

 

A debt of gratitude for public assistance

By Gina McCoy

I owe a debt of gratitude that I don’t like to talk about, or even remember. Things have gone pretty well for me in the last 25 years. It is easy to build a narrative that hard work and ability were all it took to gain my foothold in the middle class. But no, I received help.

For three years I relied on welfare and food stamps. As a young woman in the late 1980s I found myself unemployed and with sole responsibility for a baby. Thanks to the social safety net and educational opportunities, I was able to care for my child, pursue a productive career and escape poverty. This was before a couple of notions had been so fully embraced: that government assistance is the primary cause of social problems, and that poverty is a moral failing. How different things seem now.

I will always be deeply grateful that help was available when I unexpectedly needed it. At least, I am grateful when I think about it, which – as I mentioned – I don’t like to do. Having been fiercely independent up until that point, I also felt deeply ashamed for needing help. At that time, however, the important thing became taking care of an innocent baby. My pride took a back seat.

Fast forward 25 years. Many hard-working people hover perilously close to hunger. Through forces far beyond individual control, financial security seems to be receding beyond the reach of more and more of us. The devastation of the Great Recession accelerated the trends of decreasing employment security, educational opportunity and health care accessibility. Childhood poverty rates nationwide are at a shocking 22 percent. Okanogan County has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the state.

So, what is the response of our elected officials? The budget sequester has further slashed social spending, and now the U.S. House of Representatives is attempting to cut an additional $40 billion from food stamp benefits over the next 10 years.  Our own representative, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, voted along party lines – in favor of the cuts.

It seems that the war on poverty has become a war against the poor. One in seven Americans receives food stamps, with 85 percent of the recipients being children, elderly or disabled. Tell me, you 217 House Republicans, who amongst these people “deserves” to go hungry?

Every hungry child represents not only undeserved suffering, but also a terrible long-term cost to society. A hungry child does not make a good student and is much more at risk for health and developmental problems than a well-fed child. It is difficult for comfortable, well-fed people to comprehend the suffering lurking within that sentence, or the long-term consequences. From a strictly practical perspective, it is much cheaper for society to ensure all children are fed than it is to deal with the costs of leaving many hungry. If we care at all about equal opportunity, we must have food security.

So, in the spirit of paying it forward, I feel the need to “out” myself for having received this help – as an example that “we” are your friends and neighbors. My son is now a healthy, well-adjusted, college-educated adult, out to do good in this crazy old world.

If you are a taxpayer who believes that the government has no role in providing welfare benefits, I apologize for having accepted your involuntary help and hope you will forgive me. I believe in the intervening years I have proven to be a good investment through productive work and taxes paid – and more importantly, I believe, by raising a son who is an asset to society. It is hard to see how the outcome would have been that good without governmental assistance. So, thanks everyone.

Gina McCoy lives in Winthrop.

 

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