Incumbent commissioners each draw three challengers

By Marcy Stamper

Okanogan County incumbent commissioners Ray Campbell and Sheilah Kennedy each face three challengers in their bid for a second four-year term.

Andy Hover of Winthrop, Ashley Thrasher of Twisp and Stan Kvistad of Okanogan filed declarations of candidacy last week for the District 2 seat held by Campbell. Campbell also filed for re-election.

Ted Reinbold of Okanogan, Chris Branch of Omak and Larry Schreckengast of Okanogan filed as candidates for the District 1 seat held by Kennedy. Kennedy also filed for re-election.

District 2 commissioner

Hover, the manager of North Valley Lumber in Winthrop, said his main concern is the commissioners’ management of the budget, which he said has put the county in a position that is fiscally unsound. He is also concerned that the commissioners have been privatizing so many functions, leading to a loss of local jobs. Hover believes it is important to listen to constituents and value their input.

Hover is the son of Bud Hover, who served two terms as county commissioner and was defeated in a close race by Campbell four years ago. He prefers the Republican Party.

Kvistad is a heavy equipment operator who specializes in road construction and other large projects. He could not be reached for other details of his campaign before press time. He prefers the Republican Party.

Thrasher, currently a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, has also served on a hotshot crew and as a smokejumper. Thrasher’s main concerns are development and zoning. She wants to see a sustainable approach to development, noting that if unchecked development is allowed in areas with a limited water supply, it could irreparably damage the ecology of places such as the Methow Valley.

She is also concerned about the commissioners’ fiscal management and about the need for adequate zoning to manage unpermitted nightly rentals and marijuana operations. Thrasher states no party preference.

District 1 commissioner

Branch is the community development director for Oroville. He has worked in local government for almost three decades, doing land-use planning and working on water issues and economic development for almost every town in Okanogan County.

Branch is concerned that the commissioners have been privatizing many county jobs without doing the necessary in-depth cost-benefit analysis. He believes the county needs a more public process where constituents will be listened to.

Branch wants to see the county work with municipalities and with state and federal agencies, rather than taking an adversarial approach. Branch prefers the Independent Party.

Reinbold is an attorney with his family law firm, Reinbold & Gardner, in Okanogan. He is concerned that the current commissioners have allowed the county to be drawn into costly lawsuits over issues such as the closing of a road in the Chiliwist. Reinbold also called the idea of sending juveniles to a facility hours away “immoral” and fiscally irresponsible.

Reinbold is concerned about poor management of county departments and strained labor relations. He prefers the Independent Party.

Schreckengast is retiring next month after a 16-year career as Omak police chief. He could not be reached at press time for more details about his campaign. Schreckengast prefers the Republican Party.

PUD commissioner, judges

Voters in District 3 will have a choice of three candidates for the Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) commissioner seat currently held by Ernie Bolz, who is not seeking re-election. Jerry Asmussen, John Hamilton Graham and Aaron Kester, all of Tonasket, have filed for the nonpartisan seat, a six-year term.

None of the judges in Okanogan County Superior or District court drew opponents.

Election dates

The primary election is Aug. 2. In the primary, voters only vote for candidates in their own district — for the Methow Valley, District 2, the seat currently held by Campbell. The top two candidates will advance to the general election on Nov. 8.

In the general election, voters vote for candidates from all districts, so Methow Valley voters will also be able to vote for the District 1 commissioner seat now held by Kennedy, and for PUD commissioner.

The deadline for new voters to register by mail or online is July 4. The deadline for in-person registration — for new Washington voters only — is July 25.