Council member says town needs better leadership
By Don Nelson
Winthrop Town Council member Bob DeHart announced last week that he will run for mayor in the November general election.
DeHart said his decision to run was partially, but not entirely, in reaction to recent concerns raised about the firing of Marshal Hal Henning by Mayor Anne Acheson.
DeHart was appointed to the council in September 2016 to fill a vacancy created when former Mayor Sue Langdalen resigned, and then-council member Acheson was selected to replace Langdalen. DeHart, 70, is retired from the Boeing Co.
In an interview last week, DeHart said that he was motivated to run because “I believe the way the town is running is going to cause a lot of hurt … and will possibly have financial repercussions.”
While the marshal’s office issue has diverted much of the public’s attention, DeHart said, there are “other priorities in town that need to be addressed … our infrastructure is deteriorating, and that needs attention.”
“The mayor and the town are not working toward those goals,” DeHart added.
DeHart said his candidacy has already generated some support. “A surprising number of people are willing to support me,” he said. “They don’t like what’s going on here.”
The town needs more consistent police protection, and “businesspeople are upset about the lack of coverage,” DeHart said.
Asked if he would support another discussion of whether the Twisp Police Department and Winthrop Marshal’s Office should consider merging, DeHart said “absolutely.” The existing marshal’s office Winthrop could be treated as a “precinct” with the Twisp Police Department as headquarters, he said.
Such an arrangement would eliminate the need for a police clerk in Winthrop, DeHart said. One of Henning’s disputes with Acheson over operation of the Marshal’s Office had to do with his supervisory relationship with the police clerk. Henning also asserted that he had been told he would have full authority over his department when he was hired, but that turned out not to be the case.
“Department heads should have the right to hire or fire,” DeHart said. He said mediation might have helped solve the issues between Acheson and Henning.
“I think there’s a problem in city hall that needs to be fixed,” DeHart said. “They need a leader in there … I want people to be proud of this town.”
The mayoral position is not full-time, but because he is retired DeHart said he would spend much of his time at Town Hall. “I’ll be there as much as I need to be,” he said.
Acheson said last week that she has not yet decided whether she will seek re-election in November. “When filing rolls around [in May], I’ll decide then,” she said.