The tone at this week’s call-in session with the county commissioners was forward-looking, with most callers urging the commissioners to create an atmosphere of unity and compassion that reflects the values of Okanogan County citizens.
The opportunity to call in to share ideas and concerns with the commissioners usually has few takers, but outrage over a Facebook posting by County Commissioner Jim DeTro that appeared to condone – or make light of – violence against people protesting police brutality prompted two dozen people to vent their frustration in a rancorous session two weeks ago.
This week, eight people, most from the Methow Valley, urged the commissioners to work together toward a brighter future for the county. The county needs leadership that will bring people together with dignity and respect, in an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence that recognizes different viewpoints, Winthrop resident Pat Leigh said.
DeTro’s comments offended many people and put fellow commissioners Andy Hover and Chris Branch in an awkward position, said Winthrop resident Brian Drye, who urged them to schedule a special meeting to discuss the situation.
All three commissioners have a responsibility to hold one another accountable, said another. Several said DeTro should step down or be stripped of the chairmanship of the board.
There is still a movement – on the ground and online – exploring filing charges for a recall election, a multi-step process detailed in state law. One caller said going through a recall would exacerbate an acrimonious situation.
Hover and Branch listened to all the comments and made sure everyone had a chance to speak. DeTro was tending to other business and wasn’t present for the call-in session, nor for most of the commissioners’ meetings this week.
DeTro offered an apology two weeks ago to be recorded in the official minutes.
The commissioners are working on a preliminary draft of a resolution that addresses racism and violence and have talked with County Sheriff Tony Hawley about it, Branch said.