The Aug. 2 primary election produced some intriguing results with implications for Methow Valley residents.
Change is coming to the Okanogan County Board of Commissioners, and it may dramatically affect how the three-person board operates.
In District 2, which includes the Methow Valley, incumbent Commissioner Ray Campbell managed to draw only about one out of five votes in the primary, which was limited to district residents. Challengers Andy Hover and Ashley Thrasher will advance to the November general election. All Okanogan County residents will vote in that election to determine who the District 2 commissioner will be.
Campbell was elected to a four-year term in 2012 when he narrowly defeated incumbent Bud Hover, Andy Hover’s father, to represent District 2. While Campbell is well-liked and appreciated for his work on firefighting issues and victim relief, his positions on some issues and willingness to ally with commissioners Sheilah Kennedy and Jim DeTro on controversial actions and extreme policies clearly eroded his local support.
Andy Hover and Thrasher are both strong candidates and District 2 will be well-represented no matter what the outcome. Hover’s name recognition may be advantageous to him outside of the Methow Valley.
Meanwhile, the District 1 race is too close to call as of Monday (Aug. 8). With a handful of ballots left to count, incumbent Kennedy is in a virtual tie with challengers Larry W. Schreckengast and Chris Branch. Two will advance to the November ballot.
Even if Kennedy survives the primary, she may have trouble finding enough votes for re-election. In her own district, “anybody but Kennedy” drew more than 70 percent of the votes. She probably can’t expect much support from District 2 residents, leaving District 3 — the seat now held by DeTro, who is not up for re-election this year — as a potential source of votes.
With Campbell out of the race and Kennedy’s position uncertain, it’s possible that a new majority will be elected to the board in November. Given widespread antipathy toward some of the commission’s actions, such an outcome may be welcomed by many county residents.
The effect of Represent Okanogan County, the nonprofit citizen group formed to promote voter involvement and education, on the commissioner races can’t be strictly measured. But its widely disseminated message — “Wanted, new commissioners” — may have helped ensure that the incumbents did not go unchallenged.
On the glass-half-full front, Three Rivers Hospital seems likely to benefit from approval of a proposed levy lid lift that will provide much-needed support for the hospital’s operations. At the same time, a one-year special levy to help pay for new equipment and infrastructure repairs was being defeated.
The Town of Twisp’s request for a hike in the local retail sales tax to support street and infrastructure repairs was being approved by a wide margin — good news for a town that needs all the help it can get to get its streets in order.
Okanogan County voters are strongly backing State Rep. Brad Hawkins to replace Sen. Linda Evans Parlette representing the 12th Legislative District in Olympia. The other candidate, Jon Wyss, is well-known in the county but Hawkins has worked hard to be responsive to his constituency.
In the merely interesting category, county voters supported incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray over challenger Chris Vance, while giving challenger Bill Bryant more votes that incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee.
We’ll get a brief post-primary respite from campaigning, but expect it to crank up quickly in the local, state and national arenas and continue relentlessly for the next three months. It may become tiresome, but it’s important for citizens to stay involved and be part of the choice-making process.
— Don Nelson