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Chronicle endorses political hopefuls

— Each year, The Chronicle convenes an editorial board to endorse or oppose candidates during the election season.

Here are some of the endorsements offered by this year’s board:

Okanogan County Assessor

Incumbent Scott D. Furman is facing challenger Les V. Stokes in a race that’s largely about the value of property.

Furman and Stokes have run a very respectful race, both acknowledging many of the same issues facing property owners.

But Stokes hasn’t shown why he would be better in the job than Furman. In fact, at last week’s political forum in Oroville, Stokes said Furman had done a good job in the wake of the Carlton Complex wildfires.

We concur. 

At this point, we don’t see a reason to change leaders in the Okanogan County Assessor’s Office, particularly when tough decisions will need to be made in the coming months on property valuations of destroyed parcels. Furman’s experience makes him the right candidate for the job at this time.

Okanogan County Public Utility District Commissioner

Incumbent David Womack is defending against a strong challenge from Scott Vejraska.

Vejraska says Womack has voted in favor of issues that are costing ratepayers more than they can afford. Womack says Vejraska, a lineman with Nespelem Valley Electric Co-op, will have a conflict of interest any time a vote is required on employee wages.

Given where the utility is currently at when it comes to Enloe Dam and the proposed Pateros-to-Twisp power transmission line, the two candidates aren’t that far apart.

The bottom line in this race is which candidate will vote to rein in utility district costs while keeping the power agency fiscally solvent.

The decision for you, the voter, is whether you are content with the way the utility is currently being managed or if you want a change. And make no mistake — this race is for the swing seat on the three-member commission.

This race is more personal for ratepayers. Therefore, we’re not endorsing either candidate.

Ferry County Prosecuting Attorney

This battle to fill a soon-to-be vacant seat is between political newcomer Emma Paulsen and a former prosecuting attorney, James A. von Sauer.

In recent years, Paulsen has maintained a strong influence in prosecuting cases in both Okanogan and Ferry counties. von Sauer has turned to private practice.

But in the last few years, the laws have changed and the influence of technology has altered the way government offices operate.

We believe Paulsen is more up to the task to handle the changes. She is the better choice to head the Ferry County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office at this time.

7th Legislative District House Position No. 1

Libertarian James R. Apker is taking on incumbent Shelly Short in the race for this House seat in Olympia.

Apker brings an interesting construction background to the race and accuses Short of being part of the problem with state government. Apker says Short has “abdicated” her responsibility to the public while serving in Olympia. He paints her as a wannabe “lifelong” politician.

His accusations lack merit.

Short has worked hard in Olympia to protect ranchers and assist in keeping living wage jobs here. Short has, so far, refused to get into the mudslinging politics that Apker has embraced.

Short says she has a “proven track record” and knows how to get things done in Olympia. And she can back up that assertion.

Short remains the best candidate in the race.

7th Legislative District House Position No. 2

Incumbent Republican Joel Kretz is facing a weak challenge — at least locally — from Centrist candidate Ronnie Rae.

Given the absence of Rae from local political forums, we’re inclined to support the candidate we know.

Kretz has been a strong advocate for ranchers in the wolf debate, a supporter of Kinross’ efforts to provide living wage jobs here and has worked tirelessly on behalf of Eastern Washington during legislative sessions. Kretz was also on the front line in the effort to protect Brewster from the Carlton Complex wildfire.

For his part, Rae says he has similar views on wolves, the desire to keep Kinross’ Buckhorn Mine active and vows to fight for our constitutional rights. But it’s hard to take him at his word when he hasn’t been very active in reaching out to voters in Okanogan and Ferry counties.

Rae could be a good representative for the area, but he needs to show his commitment to Okanogan and Ferry counties voters through more than just words.

Kretz has put in the time and effort and deserves our endorsement.

House 5th Congressional District

Incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers and challenger Joseph “Joe” Pakootas are running a race to represent Ferry County and other portions of Northeast Washington in Washington, D.C.

Neither responded to questions submitted by The Chronicle for our voters guide.

Because neither thought it was important enough to respond, we refuse to endorse either candidate.

— The Chronicle editorial board

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