No thanks, DHS

Dear Editor:

Why in the world would Americans want to have the federal government involved in the voting process now handled by the states? It appears the “convenience” of electronic voting is being exposed as a process which is incredibly easy to corrupt and also hackable. So, according to Jeh Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security, the solution is to put the federal government in charge of our voting process. Are you talking about the same government that spent (and is still spending) millions of dollars attempting to computerize the health care system? You have got to be kidding!

Here’s a simple solution: Let’s go back to paper ballots. We here in Okanogan County have paper ballots. You have to be a registered voter to get a ballot. You then physically mark your paper ballot and sign and date the paperwork before you mail it in or physically deliver it to the county auditor. Your signature is compared to the signature the county has on file. If the signature does not match what they have on file for you or is unreadable, that ballot is set aside until it can be confirmed.

Compared to electronic voting, this paper system is far safer, and it provides hard copy results which can be physically verified.

So no thanks, Jeh. I think we can handle this problem without Homeland Security getting involved and spending millions of dollars “securing” our election process. But how about the border problem? Could you do something about that?

Chrystal Perrow, Winthrop

Why the vitriol?

Dear Editor:

It made me sad to read James Miller’s letter last week in the Omak Chronicle. Where does such vitriol come from? Chris Branch and the Sorianos are contributing community members, good neighbors and decent people. Chris would make a good county commissioner. He believes in open and transparent government, and lists donations online for Mr. Miller to see. Mr. Miller touts the candidate that refuses to make her donations transparent, and seems to have no curiosity how Sheila Kennedy’s campaign is financed.

My family has been in Okanogan County for seven generations, and I remember stories my grandmother told of grange dances, barn raisings, and neighbors working together to help each other. I was raised with these values, which makes it hard to understand letters like Mr. Miller’s attacking his neighbors. If his barn fell over today, he might have trouble finding neighbors wanting to help him put it back up.

My wife and I have owned and operated Filer Plumbing in Twisp for the last 28 years. My interactions with customers over all these years has been the joy of my working life. If a customer of mine had written a letter like Mr. Miller’s, I’d feel compelled to quietly take them aside and encourage them to soften their tone. 

Sheila Kennedy has apparently encouraged this kind of public discourse, and does not deserve to be re-elected.

Dwight Filer, Twisp

Supporting Thrasher

Dear Editor:

We support Ashley Thasher for county commissioner, District 2. Ashley has demonstrated her willingness to work hard to understand the needs of constituents and county government. She has already invested significant personal time in meeting with a number of county department heads, mayors and citizens groups. We support her interest in strengthening our local health department. She has been the only one of the remaining candidates to testify before the county commissioners against moving juvenile corrections out of the county, and is against privatizing county jobs. Ashley is our best bet for transparent county government responsive to the needs of all.   

Chris Hogness, Leesa Linck, Winthrop

Erroneous information

Dear Editor: 

Two letters attacking our Superior Court judges and commissioner candidate Chris Branch appeared in the Omak Chronicle recently. Citizens countywide, including Districts 2 and 3, will be choosing between Branch and Sheilah Kennedy in the November general election, so this misinformation must be addressed. 

James Miller criticizes Chris Branch for accepting campaign contributions from outside the county, specifically from a family that has owned and operated a large cattle ranch in the Tunk Valley family for 30 years and are family-oriented. He lumps them in with “greenies, capitalist U.N zombies, and bong lovers,” erroneously accusing their daughter of being administrator of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, an organization that helps fund local swimming pools and other recreation.  

The Sorianos, along with the growing number of other second-home owners in our county who benefit our tax base and economy and are registered to vote here, deserve to support any candidate they choose without harassment. Branch’s growing support exists not because of contributions from second homeowners, but also because he is highly qualified, committed to transparency and fairness in government, and has supported the economy (including agriculture).

Regarding the Superior Court judges’ lawsuit against our county commissioners, Miller erroneously accuses respected judges Culp and Rawson of suing the commissioners to achieve the goal of getting their “friend” a higher salary and of serving “the powers of darkness.” 

In actuality, the commissioners had agreed ahead of time to the right of our judges to negotiate an employment agreement with the administrator of juvenile court because he had agreed to take on the normally full-time job of Superior Court administrator in addition to his existing job. 

But once the employment agreement had been negotiated, the commissioners refused to pay the administrator! Our judges appropriately and courageously accused the commissioners of interfering with the operation of the court, violating the Washington state constitution, and violating the separation of powers so important to our democracy and our county.

I hope Ms. Kennedy will put an end to such unsavory rhetoric and gross misinformation from her supporters.

Isabelle Spohn, Twisp

Making choices

Dear Editor:

I have known Sheilah Kennedy since 1994 when I worked under her at the Okanogan County Noxious Weed department. I had great respect for her back then and still do to this day. I supported her first campaign and continue to stand by her. Why?  Sheilah delivered on her promises. She has provided leadership, accountability and fiscal responsibility while making enormous personal sacrifices to serve the people of this county. 

But this race goes beyond Sheilah and her opponent. It’s about the culture of Okanogan County. Our history is one of libertarian independence. We are tough and care for our neighbors. We know the value of hard work. Some of the most amazing people I know come from Okanogan County and I feel blessed to have this land as part of my heritage. That said, today we have competing interests. We have people who want to change who we are and believe that they know better.

There is no greater representation of this struggle than the commissioner races. We, the people, must decide if our heritage is worth fighting for. It’s your choice. If you want higher taxes, more government with less oversight, more restrictions and regulations, vote for Chris and Ashley. But if you believe in the people and the heritage of Okanogan County, want less government that is more responsible to the people, and want to keep your money in your pocket please join me in voting for Sheilah Kennedy and Andy Hover this November. 

Pam Leslie, Tonasket

No way to pay

Dear Editor:

For some years, rural counties and their citizens have been promoting the transfer of federal lands to the state. Western states have the largest holdings of federal lands, which are the national parks, national forests, and Bureau of Land Management. 

In Okanogan County, 83 percent of the land is federally managed, and the county receives an annual federal payment in lieu of property taxes that would have been generated by private land owners.

Our county commissioners promote federal lands transfer, saying the state or county can manage these lands better than the federal government. This means states can authorize more logging, more mineral extraction, more development, and sales or leasing of land to businesses and individuals. This is land that all of us currently hike, bike, camp or hunt on and enjoy.

But, one thing I have never heard from these transfer proponents is how they will maintain and pay for these lands once they are under state/county control. Presently, federal taxes from 50 states pay for the maintenance costs and payments to counties. If Washington’s federal lands transfer to our state, we will be paying for 100 percent of these costs, not 1/50 or 2 percent as we do now. 

Do we want to be paying 50 times more? It seems that the only way this makes sense is to sell much of the land. So, no more enjoying the beauty and wilderness of the state. 

Are we ready for fracking and the resulting earthquakes?

Susan Swanson, Omak