Ballot box remedy
I think what people may not know regarding the road closures in the south Okanogan County from 2001 until the recent Three Devils Road in 2015, is that there are thousands of acres of public land that the public no longer has access to. The only access is for the large landowners — Gebbers/Gamble corporations, Washington Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Forest Service (who have keys to the gates). This vacation of roads in favor of the Gebbers/Gamble corporations has been occurring for years.
We are currently in appeals court to determine whether our current county commissioners acted correctly in taking away the public’s right-of-way on Three Devils Road. According to Washington state law, a road vacation needs to be a benefit to the public and the road needs to be found useless. The current commissioners voted to vacate both Hooker Creek and Three Devils Road in favor of this large landowner, despite public testimony against the closures.
Commissioner Sheilah Kennedy’s website states the visiting judge from Douglas County agreed with their decision. On the contrary, the judge didn’t understand why they voted against their hearings examiner’s recommendation, but ruled that it was a “legislative/political” decision rather than a “quasi-judicial” decision. Therefore, our remedy is at the ballot box.
The appeals court, in Spokane, will be making a ruling on this.
County commissioners make some very important decisions that affect us all. Please take the time to get to know the candidates running for the two positions. Your vote counts!
Ruth Hall, Malott
The responsible vote
I am tired of hearing about “protest voting” (or not voting) for president. The idea that the candidates aren’t that different is a bogus excuse for being an irresponsible citizen.
One candidate is a billionaire (he claims) scam artist. I say “he claims” because Trump is afraid to show us his tax returns. They would probably also show that he pays little or no taxes on however many millions he makes. I say “scam artist,” thinking of the thousands of Trump University students he defrauded and building subcontractors he never paid.
If you think the tax system has been biased towards the rich in the past, look at Trump’s big “new” economic plan. Even bigger tax cuts for the rich, especially for big developers like himself. If you believe that is going to create the 25 million new jobs he’s promised, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
Back in the 1960s, nuclear war was a major threat. Russia was the enemy. Many presidents have worked to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation. Now Trump wants more countries to go nuclear. He’s also threatened to stop supporting our NATO allies. The only foreign country he hasn’t dissed is Russia. Its dictator, Vladimir Putin, is Trump’s new best friend. Does that make you feel safer for the future?
So maybe you don’t like Hillary personally. You believe the trash talk from right-wingers about her. Note that none of it is ever backed by facts, just innuendo. Her emails? None were ever hacked and no damaging information ever revealed.
Hillary is dedicated, tough, and the most competent and prepared presidential candidate I have seen in my life. As senator, among many areas of concern, she served on the Armed Services Committee. As secretary of state, she was widely respected at home (even by Republicans) and around the world. She has a long history of public service, and a positive vision for the future of all of us. It isn’t based on fear, hatred or lies, unlike Trump’s vision.
Please, be responsible citizens and vote — for Hillary.
Randy Brook, Twisp
Wowza! Look over there! And over there! Enthusiastic volunteers for Ashley Thrasher everywhere!
Witnessing this new generation of citizens participating in the democratic process, working to bring balance to county government which affects all aspects of our lives, makes my heart sing.
How refreshing to have a candidate who excites and inspires, who is committed to working for the many.
Finally, a candidate with no ties to private interests. Not beholden to old money, old names and old backroom deals.
A visionary who understands that healthy lands and communities are dependent on everyone and everything doing well.
No other candidate is working as hard as Ashley. Availing herself to residents countywide, knocking on doors, attending functions and holding meet-and-greets.
We have seen what we have lost by the careless, shortsighted, blatantly biased and uneducated decisions and actions of past and present county commissioners that only benefit the few.
I have rarely felt represented when attending commissioner meetings over the last 30 years. I want someone like Ashley on the board who will carefully and fairly consider and research the concerns of we, the people.
With two of the three commissioner seats open to a countywide vote in this election, we will change that.
So, a heartfelt shout out to all of the volunteers. New faces and veteran faces, who are setting aside already full lives to participate in shaping a future for all generations. Thank you for raising your hands and voices because you know that change comes with challenging the status quo.
You are the change makers.
You — we — are the ones we have been waiting for.
Enthusiastic for Thrasher
I am writing in strong support of Ashley Thrasher for Okanogan County commissioner.
I was most impressed with Ashley at the candidate forum in Twisp. She has demonstrated that she is well-prepared and ready to address the problems facing our county.
For example, Ashley was the only candidate to cite and voice support for evidence-based practices in tackling our public health issues. As an RN and paramedic, this was music to my ears. I found myself nodding emphatically to many of her statements.
Ashley’s experience as a smokejumper and hot shot prepares her to lead the county through future adverse incidents and to collaborate effectively with the other governments and agencies involved. Her experience, as both an incident commander and as an on-the-ground responder, will be an asset to our county government.
Lastly, I greatly appreciate that Ashley has no party affiliation. This is her first effort toward representing the needs of the county rather than the platform of a particular party. I am enthusiastic about casting my ballot for Ashley Thrasher on Nov. 8.
Justin Porter, Twisp
Positive change possible
We are finally moving forward in Okanogan County government and many people are sensing the positive change that is coming. I am supporting Ashley Thrasher for county commissioner because she is smart, has the work ethic of a hot shot firefighter, and will carefully listen to what people need before she makes difficult decisions.
Chris Branch has more than 20 years of planning experience here in all corners of the county and will complement Ashley as they take a step into the future and tackle some important improvements. I see this ballot as the best chance in a decade to turn the page and put some of the decisions behind us that have disappointed so many.
Please join me with a vote for Ashley in District 2 and Chris in District 1 and together let’s gain some leadership and common sense for the 41,000 people who call Okanogan County home.
Kent Woodruff, Twisp
Who is Kennedy protecting?
Sheilah Kennedy’s campaign slogan is “protecting the county’s way of life, responsibility, accountability, leadership.”
Concerning protecting our way of life, Commissioner Kennedy publicly stated that she favors privatizing county work (and subsequent jobs), such as maintenance shop work, weed control, road work, often to more expensive companies outside the county. She passed a new comprehensive plan that does not designate or preserve valuable agricultural, forest and natural resource lands of future commercial significance (summer 2016). These actions do not protect our county’s way of life.
Concerning responsibility, accountability and leadership, the commissioners have engaged in at least five lawsuits, but public disclosure documents do not completely show how much money it costs to defend these suits. Responsibility and leadership would be meeting with the complainants and negotiating for the good of the county and its finances. If the commissioners were being responsible earlier this year, they would not have known about the cash shortfall that required them to spend the “rainy day fund” to keep services and salaries funded. Good leadership would not have engaged in a haphazard exploration of moving juvenile detention services and these children out of the county. These actions are not good leadership, responsibility or accountability.
It is time to move from “good old boy” politics to democratic governance. We are Americans and Washingtonians first, and then we may describe ourselves as Republican or Democrat. We do not need four more years of poorly managed and special-interest-focused direction. Vote for Chris Branch for District 1 — he has the experience and a sound vision.
Stuart Rick Gillespie, Chesaw