By Ann McCreary
Ashley Thrasher, a former smokejumper and candidate for the Okanogan County Commission, has been named to a vacant seat on the Twisp Town Council.
After interviewing three Twisp residents who applied for the position, the council voted last week to appoint Thrasher to the seat previously held by Josh Thomson, who chose not to continue on the board. Thrasher will serve the remainder of the term and will need to run in the November 2019 general election if she wants to remain on the council.
Thrasher told the council that she was motivated to apply for the position because she is interested in working to strengthen the local economy, improve Twisp’s downtown area and encourage “sustainable” development that addresses climate change concerns.
She said that she also wants to promote diversity and greater involvement among women in government. She joins four men on the town council.
The issue of greatest concern to Twisp is water, Thrasher said. “Water in the West has always been an issue. It affects development, quality of life, fish, irrigators and farmers. People are starting to realize that water is over-allocated,” Thrasher said in an interview after being appointed to the council.
Thrasher is a member of the Methow Watershed Council, a volunteer board with a mission of “managing water supplies for a sustainable balance between human and ecological needs.” Thrasher said her position on the Watershed Council could offer “potential overlap” with water issues facing the town.
Thrasher said she would like to help the town improve the appearance of Twisp’s town center. A recent visit by urban planning consultant Michelle Reeves “flipped a switch for me,” Thrasher said. “It made me more aware of appearance and how that can attract and deter visitors.” Twisp should work to encourage more retail, tourism and small manufacturing opportunities, she said.
Thrasher works part-time at TwispWorks as a program manager, developing an apprenticeship program focused on occupations in the trades, health care and computer sciences.
“While determining the feasibility of this project, I spoke with many business owners who are dedicated to the vitality of our town. I’m excited about the work that the Town of Twisp is doing to revitalize the downtown,” Thrasher said.
A wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service for seven years and a smokejumper for two years, Thrasher stopped firefighting last year to work as a carpenter for Charters LLC in Twisp. She ran for Okanogan County Commission in 2016 in an election that was won by Andy Hover.
Thomson, who Thrasher is replacing, was appointed to the Twisp Council in December 2016 and would have had to win election to the seat in last November’s election to remain on the board. Thomson said he chose not to seek election because it was difficult to balance the demands of the council with his job and family.