Occupation: For the last eight years, I have been a Grays Harbor County Commissioner representing Distict 2. Before that, I was a city council member and Mayor of Aberdeen and worked as grounds supervisor for the Aberdeen School District.
Political Party: Democrat
Civic Involvement: My political career has offered me the opportunity to belong to many boards and committees including: the Economic Development Council (now Greater Grays Harbor) the Council of Governments, the Aberdeen Senior Center Board, Grays Harbor County Board of Health (Past Chairman), Splash committee, Chairman of the Grays Harbor Transit Authority for five years, Grays Harbor E911 (Chairman for more than years), Member of the Olympia Area Agency on Aging (chairman for several years), on the Satsop PDA Executive Board, Vision 2020, am currently Vice Chairman of the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board and serve on the Coastal Community Action Program (CCAP) Executive and Financial committees. I was a Little League coach and YMCA swim team parent and meet worker.
Personality: Fiscally conservative, eternally optimistic
What are your thoughts on how the incumbent county commissioners communicate with their constituents and is there any room for improvement?
The county commissioners are extremely concerned that the public has full access to all meetings and activities generated by our office. Since I have been a commissioner, we have instigated the digital video feed available through our website that gives the opportunity for all those who are interested to watch all our important meetings.
All our agendas and minutes are also available. Our offices are open to the public all weekdays with the exception of Friday afternoon and when we are furloughing. You can call me at our office, leave messages if we are out and my telephone number is in the phone book. We have an extensive county website.
What is the optimal way the county should be doing its budgets and is the county doing its budgets in this fashion?
I believe that budgeting is the primary responsibility of the Commissioner’s office. Where past commissioners deferred to their budget director to craft the budget, at this time the commissioners play a much more detailed role in the budget and continue to monitor the budget as the year progresses. We have meetings with department heads and their support staff that insures we continue to provide important services to our citizens, while living within the constraints of our local, state and federal economies. We have undertaken cost saving measures to control travel expenditures, and prolong the use of our Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicles until they have served in excess of 120,000 miles rather than the 80,000 approved by commissioners in the past. We have slashed the travel costs by 40 percent by limiting travel to essential training. We do all labor negotiations. The ability to balance the needs of dozens of departments, to judge the equitable distribution of funds is a delicate tight wire balancing act.
What letter grade would you give the county commissioners today? Please provide a narrative description explaining your reasons.
(Editor’s note: No letter grade given). A County Commissioner is fundamentally a decision maker and as such there very often are winners and losers in that process. A commissioner must take a firm stance after taking a hard look at the options available and make a informed decision.
In Pacific Beach, we are into phase two of the waste treatment plant that has led to the development of Seabrook and the expansion of this area. We have led the development of the fresh water wells at Hogan’s Corner that has brought a steady flow of water to the state park and the casino and will help with commercial development in the future.
The state of the art Doppler coastal radar became a reality after members of the Grays Harbor Jobs Team, including myself, made a successful presentation for funding to our federal representatives in Washington, D.C., in 2007.
Among other projects I helped with: the industrial waterline renovation; helping attract Stafford Creek to the Harbor, helping the new Mark Reed Hospital, the new convention center at Ocean Shores, building abatements to help expand the transit mall in Aberdeen, the demolition of the old building next to the Gospel Mission and its expansion to help the needs of the homeless, the childcare facility at Grays Harbor College, the summer lunch program in Cosmopolis — especially valuable during the time of the mill closure — as well as financial help for community events all over the county.
I would like to say a few words about the State Transportation Improvement Board of which I am the Vice Chairman. With gas tax revenue we fund between $50 million and $80 million dollars in much-needed street and sidewalk projects, statewide. Grays Harbor cities and towns have been the recipients of nearly 80 projects in the last 15 years, totaling millions of dollars. If you see new streets, sidewalks, drainage and infrastructure in your city, chances are the TIB has contributed to these improvements. I will move up to be chair of this board in 2013 when re-elected. All projects can be viewed online at tib.wa.gov. If I am not elected, this chairmanship will be given to another county’s’ member and we will lose a valuable asset in a key position.
I have played a part in the movement to improve our lives in the last 20-plus years. I thank you for letting me serve and stand ready to continue working for you.