Hickman challenges incumbent Easton
Mark Easton joined the Twisp Town Council when it seemed that more people wanted to get off the council than get on.
Easton applied around the beginning of 2018 to fill Position 1, most recently held by Josh Thompson. Thompson had been appointed just one year earlier to replace Bob Lloyd, who had resigned. But Thompson didn’t want to run in November 2017 to retain his seat.
The remaining council members didn’t choose Easton, who said in an interview last month he was happy with the council’s selection of Ashley Thrasher.
On the same night Thrasher was appointed, council member John Fleming resigned — giving another spin to the revolving door that was the Twisp Town Council.
Council member Alan Caswell called Easton the next day, to see if he might still want the job.
What a difference two years makes. Not only do all four council seats in this election cycle have candidates, but two are contested. Kevin Hickman is challenging Easton for his Position 4 seat.
“Nobody showed up for the last election. I’m glad that people are showing up,” Easton said.
Contributions: Easton $500, Hickman zero
Mark Easton has received $465.13 in donations, plus graphic design services for campaign bookmarks, according to the candidate.
Easton provided the following list of donors on Monday (Sept. 30):
William and Diana Hottell, $100
Mark and LaShelle Easton, $90.13
Sharon Cohen, $50
Maggie Coon and Mark Wolf-Armstrong, $50
Sandy Moody, $50
Melanie Rowland, $50
Dwight Filer, $25
Paula Mackrow, $25
Dave and Marilyn Sabold, $25
The only expense Easton reported was $40.13 to print bookmarks. He said he has no plans to use yard signs in his campaign.
“It’s not the best use of money,” Easton said.
Kevin Hickman, who is challenging Easton for his Twisp Council seat, said on Monday he had not received any contributions and was not asking people to donate to his campaign. He did say he is trying to save money to purchase yard signs.
The Methow Valley News is asking candidates in all Town of Twisp races to voluntarily disclose their campaign donations: who is giving and how much. We are also asking them to list all expenses: who is getting paid, how much, and for what.
Candidates in Washington state are required to report all of this information to the Public Disclosure Commission if they receive more than $5,000 in contributions—a high bar for a jurisdiction as small as Twisp. We felt this same information should be available to Twisp voters.
The race for Twisp mayor is contentious, at least among supporters of Soo Ing-Moody and Vern Nations. None of that sentiment has trickled down to the campaigns of Easton or Hickman.
“No one is running against me. Kevin and I happen to be running for the same position,” Easton said, adding he would help Hickman prepare for the office if he were to win.
“I think it takes any new council member quite a bit of time to get up to speed,” Easton said. “The amount of time I spend doing research on anything coming up in front of the council, and spend on different committees, is a lot.”
Hickman, 58, is a single father raising his 9-year-old son Joey while operating Kevin’s Collision Repair on Lincoln Street. He said he wouldn’t enter the council with an agenda — at least not a long agenda.
“I don’t want to go into this rocking the boat or making promises I can’t keep,” Hickman said. “If something needs to be addressed, I would like to look at both sides of the story and pick a side, but not upset the other side.”
Hickman said he would be willing to step on some toes, however, in an effort to reverse the council’s 2017 decision to vacate Third Avenue in order to make room for an expanded town hall, dubbed the civic center.
Hickman’s shop is one block east of town hall, and he says Third Avenue is the only street trucks can use to access his business during the winter.
“Other roads aren’t plowed wide enough for a freight truck to get around,” Hickman said. “City Hall could be built elsewhere.”
“I know there’s going to be a lot of people that upsets.”
Hickman’s more general campaign issue is communication, or the lack thereof, between town government and its citizens.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on that a lot of people don’t know about,” Hickman said. He suggested the town post more information about the council’s decisions on its website.
“It would be nice to be informed about what’s going on, especially before they happen,” Hickman said. “And slow down decisions that are being made.”
Easton, 60, is a full-time artist who has worked in property management and retail management. He agreed the town could put more information on its website and said it should continue to post signs around town explaining various public works projects. He also suggested a webcam where people could follow the progress on road repairs or even look in on a council meeting.
On the other hand, Easton said, “no matter how well you put the word out, there are just going to be some people who don’t see it, don’t hear it and don’t know about it.”
“It’s important for people to show up” to meetings, Easton said.
Hickman said he would like to hold water and sewer rates steady. From 2011 to 2019, the monthly base water and sewer bill for a single-family residence went from $72.25 to $119.11, growing four and a half times faster than inflation.
Hickman says he pays almost $400 a month on water and sewer, at his residence and the two commercial buildings he uses.
“I understand everyone has to get paid for doing what they do, but wow,” he said.
Easton said the increases — most of which happened before his watch, to be fair — were necessary.
“The water, all this infrastructure, has to be brought up to date so it serves the people,” Easton said. “I don’t know how you go forward without running a sewage treatment plant, and maintaining it and improving it.”
Easton said he will hold a meet-and-greet with fellow incumbent Caswell on Oct. 12 and knock on doors to spread the word about his campaign.
Hickman said his campaign has been “mostly just word of mouth.”
“I’ve been here for 30 years. People know who I am and what I’m about,” Hickman said. “I have people that support me.”
Mail-in ballots are due on Election Day, Nov. 5.