DeHart, Ranzau both cite concerns for the town’s well-being
By Don Nelson
Mayoral candidates Bob DeHart and Sally Ranzau share some common concerns about issues facing the Town of Winthrop — for instance, stablizing law enforcement and creating better relationships between the town and local businesses. And both tout their public management experience.
But there are differences between the two candidates, who are engaged in low-key campaigns to attract Winthrop voters in the Nov. 7 general election (ballots have been mailed to Okanogan County residents). For instance, Ranzau believes that former Mayor Anne Acheson was treated unfairly during the public furor over Acheson’s firing of former Marshal Hal Henning earlier this year, while DeHart suggested that Acheson resign and says he will look for a way to hire Henning back if he is elected.
Although DeHart is currently on the Town Council, both candidates are seeking their first elected position in Winthrop. The mayor’s position is part-time and pays $1,000 a month.
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. He served as mayor pro tem for a couple of weeks after Acheson resigned as mayor in June of this year, and before council member Rick Northcott was appointed to replace Acheson. DeHart chose not to seek election to his council seat in order to run for mayor.
DeHart is retired from the Boeing Co., where he traveled extensively as a special investigator looking into problems with flawed parts. He moved to Winthrop in 2002. Dehart said in an interview that because he’s retired, he can devote full time to the mayor’s job. “Part-timers don’t accomplish as much,” he said.
DeHart has identified several issues he believes should be addressed. For instance, he said he would come up with innovative ways to upgrade the town’s infrastructure including water system and street repairs. He said the Winthrop Barn also needs renovation to host more events.
DeHart said he would institute an open-door policy at Town Hall so residents could talk about their concerns directly. “They need a place to vent,” he said. Town government, he said, “needs to be run like a business,” and town employees should be more responsive to residents and businesspeople. “Some relationships need to be improved,” he said.
DeHart said the old town shop site on Bluff Street should be cleaned up and perhaps used as a parking lot to accommodate visitors.
As to the marshal’s office, DeHart said he would have a hands-off policy with newly hired Marshal Daniel Tindall and “let him do his job.” DeHart said he would like to see Henning return as a deputy, if possible, particularly if the marshal’s office returns to three officers.
Winthrop’s Westernization emphasis is “an absolute necessity,” DeHart said, but added that “there has to be a way for modernization and Westernization to coexist … we need to look at the needs of businesses.”
DeHart said he wants to see projects like the Susie Stephens Trail and the proposed Riverwalk succeed, but said that business owners who will be affected by the Riverwalk should have been more involved in the planning. He also said the town can do more to attract visitor groups such as car clubs and motorcycle clubs.
“I’d like people to know I’ll do anything I can to make the town better,” he said. “I’ll be the people’s mayor.”
Ranzau and her husband, Wayne, moved to the Methow Valley in 1996 from Estes Park, Colorado. There, Ranzau worked in emergency services and ski patrol, and operated a sport shop. She was also elected chairman of the board of the Estes Valley Park and Recreation District, where she had extensive exprience in working with a variety of public agencies to reach collaborative agreements.
In the Methow Valley, the Ranzaus previously owned and operated Eagle Pine Chalets and North Cascade Frame. They moved to Winthrop in 2005.
In her campaign literature, Ranzau points to her experience in dealing with public policy, staff relationships, communication, budgeting, taxes and planning, as well as her business acumen.
Ranzau said in an interview that a recent visit to Estes Park, which she said has boomed nearly beyond recognition, validated her commitment to managing Winthrop’s growth while maintaining its treasured livability, and that of the Methow Valley.
Ranzau said that after the Estes Park experience, she promised herself not to run for office again. But “I was seeing the town [Winthrop] going in a direction I didn’t like.”
As to the dispute over Acheson’s firing of Henning, she said, “the way Anne was treated was just wrong … she was well within her rights to do what she did.”
Ranzau said she would like to see the marshal’s office returned to full force. The other immediate staffing issue, she said, is in the public works department, where staff departures and the eventual retirement of Public Works Director Rick Karro will create transitional challenges.
The Town Hall staff, Ranzau added, “are doing a great job … they need to be encouraged, not micro-managed … they do their jobs and are good people.”
Ranzau said she supports Westernization, but would also like the town to “give a little more attention to its residents” as well at its businesses. She said she would like the Riverwalk trail “to become a reality.”
“We need to find a balance between quality of life and progress,” Ranzau says in her campaign literature.
Because she is retired, Ranzau said she can devote considerable time to the mayor’s job. She said a major goal is to improve communications among all interested groups.
“It’s one thing I can do to help with my community,” she said. “I love this community. It’s where I want to spend the rest of my life.”
Ranzau’s campaign theme, and her query to residents is, “what do you value here?”