Letters to the Editor: Oct. 17, 2018

This election gives us a chance to complete the positive changes we made two years ago in our Board of County Commissioners. Before that, the three commissioners repeatedly issued decisions that ignored law and common sense. They didn’t take the time to learn what the issues were.

They wouldn’t work on constructive solutions. Their bad and unlawful decisions resulted in unnecessary and costly lawsuits against the county. Finally, they didn’t listen to the public input they got. Jim DeTro in particular was frequently and openly contemptuous of citizen input.

Two years ago, we elected two new commissioners who were ready to listen to and work with our citizens and within the law. They are paying close attention to public input. Without more litigation, they are preparing a new comprehensive plan that really looks at the future. Similarly, more roads will be open to ATVs, with appropriate protections for sensitive areas.

In this election, we have Salley Bull ready to replace Jim DeTro. She is an independent candidate. She is experienced on various county and local boards and commissions. Salley is open-minded and hard working. Salley will work with and for all us. If you’ve heard her at a forum, you know how much she understands and cares about our county.

One of Salley’s issues is making a major issue the support for all county hospitals and pointing out how they employ many people in their communities and are needed in our rural communities. She is also a dedicated volunteer in community activities.

Please elect Salley Bull to join Andy Hover and Chris Branch. With those three, we could have a tremendously effective and responsive government for Okanogan County. This is what we need for our future.

Randy Brook Twisp

Are you a union member? Read the signs.

I have been stopping for a closer look at the campaign signs posted in my area. Only one candidate in the 4th Congressional District — Christine Brown — has signs bearing the union label, indicating that they were printed in a union shop.

For Christine Brown, supporting labor isn’t just a campaign promise, it’s a campaign action. Remember this as you go to the polls — if you want actual concrete action supporting labor and not just empty promises, vote for Christine Brown.

She’s already got your back.

Wages have stagnated over recent decades as corporate profits have skyrocketed. Income inequality is accelerating. Why? Because unions have been systematically and intentionally weakened by large corporate interests.

Without bargaining power, labor is helpless in securing fair living wages. Abuse rises, and working conditions deteriorate. One candidate in our congressional district supports labor not just with words, but with actual campaign dollars, and that candidate is Christine Brown.

Please join me in supporting Christine Brown for Congress in Washington’s 4th District. She is your advocate.

Ed Smith Richland

Susan and I have started to use TranGo to recreate and we are amazed at number of the options that await us.

Some of our trips are now car-free. Other trips have reduced the number of cars that need to be involved. On days when we don’t want to exert ourselves so much by pedaling up out of the valley, TranGo does the work for us.

Some trips we have taken are: Cross country skiing from the Loup to Peacock Meadows near Conconully. This is one of our favorite skis, but usually requires two car trips to the Loup and the same to Conconully as it is not a circular ski route.

We have cut it down to two car trips. We take a vehicle to the Peacock Meadow Snopark and leave it. Go back to Okanogan and take TranGo to the Loup. They drop us off where Highway 20 and the road to the ski hill meet. There is a groomed trail about 100 yards from this point. We strap on our skis and go. Usually we snack on the 17-mile or so ski and then stop at the Sit N Bull for dinner.

One recent bike trip started with putting our bikes on TranGo in Okanogan and getting dropped off at the Loup. Again, we took the route to Conconully. This time we stopped at the Conconully Store and bought snacks which we ate in the delightful Frank Matsura Park just across the creek. We were going to bike home on the Conconully Highway, but on a whim took the cutoff to the Salmon Creek Road down through the former town site of Ruby.

Another bike trip started with a TranGo drop off at the Loup. This trip we met up with Methow Valley friends at the SnoPark. We biked up to the Beaver Creek Road, down it, up Lester Road for magnificent views and down to their house in Winthrop. Susan and I filled up on water and then biked the eastside road to Hank’s where we caught a bus to Okanogan.

The bus schedule is such that there is even time to ski the South Summit Trails and catch a bus home.

Some of the fellow bus passengers on one of the trips started their day in Oroville and were heading to Twisp for lunch and then back home, all on TranGo.

One of the bus drivers told us that tubers use the bus to float the rivers and backpackers have arrived in Winthrop.

Check out their routes and schedules and start planning your car-free trips.

Dan Brown Okanogan

If you’re a Washington state resident, your Second Amendment rights are in immediate danger. Ballot Initiative 1639, if passed, would cause owners of any type of semi-automatic rifle or handgun to be subjected to onerous new restrictions and taxes, with the intent to discourage their possession and use — while doing little to nothing to fight crime. Some of these new restrictions would be:

A requirement that gun owners lock up their guns to newly imposed standards or face criminal charges. This would surely be resulting in police knocking on doors to come into your home to see if your guns are legally stored.

A requirement that individuals applying to acquire a semi-automatic rifle waive the confidentiality of their medical records. The act of applying to purchase “shall constitute a waiver of confidentiality.”

Required statewide registration for every law-abiding citizen owning a handgun or semi-automatic rifle, necessitating a massive state-level bureaucracy to monitor.

I-1639 would turn you into a felon if a criminal steals your gun and uses it to commit a crime.

It robs adults ages 18 to 20 of their constitutional right to self-defense and the use of most hunting rifles (which are semi-automatics) for sports or other purposes. It forbids law-abiding young adults to purchase or receive such a rifle as a gift. Yet these young people can be sent to war.

These are just a few of the oppressive infringements on the rights of Washington residents that would become a sad reality with the passage of I-1639.

Please consider carefully before you participate in voting away any part of our constitutional freedoms. There are practical and meaningful answers to protecting our children, schools and fighting crime; I-1639 isn’t one of them.

Vote “No” on I-1639.

Richard Tingelstad Twisp

The Tri-City Herald editorial board said, “Christine Brown is one of the most impressive Democratic candidates we have ever seen in the 4th Congressional District. “

The Herald says that “they have no doubt that Brown would work hard to represent regional interests and that she is clearly frustrated with the direction the country is headed under the president’s leadership, and there is a fervor behind her convictions that is inspiring. She says there is very little check on the executive branch by the legislative branch, and that worries her.”

Newhouse votes with the Republicans 97 percent of the time as the GOP fails in their role as a check on the executive branch. The Herald says they “may not agree with Newhouse’s voting record on many national issues” but they will endorse him and give him another chance.

If you don’t like the way this country is headed, I would implore you to vote for Christine Brown who will represent local issues and local people, not corporations and the rich.

She will do the job that Newhouse has failed to do and will add her vote as the check we need on the executive branch.

Stan Moon Richland

I will not vote for Jim DeTro because he does not respect the laws of the land. When Jim rode his ATV into Winthrop, he openly and belligerently defied Winthrop’s local law that restricts ATVs within town limits.

Jim does not govern with an open, intelligent mind. Jim disrespected voters who voted in favor of public transit (TranGo) by stating that the voters didn’t know what they were voting for. Jim relies on inflammatory language to intimidate, and name-calling to belittle folks whose viewpoints differ from his own. On Jim’s Facebook page, he advocated for spaying and neutering all “environmental extremists.” Jim referred to the legal, court-ordered restoration of the Buckhorn Mine as a “travesty” enabled by “the green slime.”

On Sept. 14, representatives from Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties met to discuss common issues. Regarding the issue of wolves and “wolf huggers,” Jim mentioned that if something isn’t done, we will be finding “people hanging from trees.” Is he suggesting that violence is the way to solve problems?

Jim’s actions and words demonstrate that he is not mentally fit for office.

I will vote for Salley Bull because she will join Commissioners Branch and Hover who behave respectfully, listen to the voters, and use critical thinking and investigative research to make wise decisions to ethically govern Okanogan County.

Kathleen Ann Hirschstein Carlton, WA

As I sit here and put into words the reasons I support Tony Hawley for sheriff, it becomes very clear there are so many.

My husband and I started 16 years ago helping, supporting and campaigning for Frank Rogers, and again in 2010 when he faced challenger Dave Yarnell.

We were proud to be involved and share that accomplishment of him serving the last 16 years. When he told us, he would be announcing his retirement, and after getting over that shock, we immediately knew without a doubt we would put that passion of support behind Tony Hawley.

Tony brings with him not only 23 years of service for the sheriff’s office but also four years of service for our country as a Marine. He has worked in corrections, patrol and currently is a sergeant. He has specialized training that includes training new deputies, accident reconstruction, impaired driving recognition and safe school programs along with much more including a four-year degree and a master’s degree in organizational leadership.

With all that being said, there is so much more to Tony.

He is always the first deputy in and the last deputy out, always making sure his deputies are safe and doing their jobs and the public is safe. He cares about the people of this county on the job and off the job. He is a great father, friend, community supporter and is a school board member. He is approachable, caring and a greatly respected member of this county, all law enforcement agencies and sheriff’s office.

His passion he holds for all of these qualities is greater than I have ever seen. Tony does his job and does it well, with integrity and respect.

He has great visions for the sheriff’s office. He is aware of budget constraints being an issue but will work hard for this county on improving and making communities safe in all aspects of law enforcement.

Vote Tony Hawley as your next sheriff and be proud with us knowing the best was supported by you and is serving our county as sheriff.

Kristi S. Walker Omak

I am writing in support of Dr. Ann Diamond who is running for WA State 12th Legislative District as an Independent.

First of all, I appreciate the independent aspect. I wish more of our political candidates would run as independents as our two-party system does not seem to be working well.

There are many reasons to vote for Ann. In small group meetings I have seen firsthand how Ann dives into issues and educates herself in order to evaluate the pros and cons of issues and to come up with best solutions; issues like water rights and affordable housing. The 12th district is a large area, mostly rural with diverse populations and concerns.

One of the biggest problems facing our region and our country is simple, affordable health care. Ann’s experience as a doctor and clinic owner in Winthrop makes her the best person to help guide any and all discussions in our legislature about health care. We need people with direct knowledge of our fragmented health care system and ideas for its improvement.

Ann understands how complex healthcare has become and how expensive it is, who pays for what and who might be profiting while others go bankrupt. I hope voters will take a good look at what Ann has to offer and vote in the upcoming election.

Karen Reneau Winthrop, WA

As many of you know, my family has called Okanogan County our home since the first settlers came in the 1800s. Generations of pride and commitment to taking care of our community are some of the things that make this county and its small towns great.

Some of you have gotten to know me throughout the years working for Food Services of America as a truck driver. I started my work in public service with the Tonasket Fire Department in 1993. I then continued my volunteer work with the Okanogan Fire Department and the Omak Fire Department. I am the Okanogan fire chief and I have served in that position since 2014.

I started my career in law enforcement with the Omak Police Department in 2006, where I currently serve as a patrol officer. After 25 years in emergency services, and seeing many unimaginable things, there are certain public servants who stick out to you. One of these people is Sgt. Tony Hawley, who is running to be our sheriff.

Over the past several years as a police officer and as fire chief, I have responded to countless critical incidents where Tony was present.

I have always found comfort in knowing that Tony was either leading the way, beside me or watching over me commanding an incident.

I have always been able to count on Tony for reasoning and advice and positive corrections, as have other young cops fighting to learn their way in an ever-changing job. Tony is very humble, gives credit where credit is due, and does not grandstand for simply doing his job. Tony is always approachable, and he listens with compassion. Tony has worked in all aspects of the position he is running for. Tony is a great instructor and mentor as my SWAT commander. These are just a few of the reasons why Tony Hawley should be our next sheriff.

I look forward to continuing my commitment to public service as fire chief and as a senior patrolman with the Omak Police Department with Tony as our next sheriff. When casting your vote on Nov. 6, vote with confidence and vote Tony Hawley.

Jerod Gavin Okanogan

Healthcare is one of those issues that will not go away. We also know how the controversy will end.

Eventually, the United States, like every advanced nation, will adopt universal healthcare. The only question is: how much suffering and death will occur in the meantime?

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was an attempt to move the country in that direction. In response, Republicans have undermined it, including cutting off sources of funding, obstructing the signup process, and promoting substandard insurance policies, thereby sabotaging healthcare for millions of Americans. One marvels at the malevolence shown by these right-wing partisans.

However, rising costs demand a holistic approach to healthcare that only a national system can provide.

The idea that marketplace competition will magically reduce these costs is absurd. If it could happen, it would have happened by now. Drug companies raise prices, sometimes unconscionably. The competition that does occur tends to raise rather than lower prices. This includes redundancy of medical equipment and facilities. This leads to unnecessary tests on unnecessary equipment.

Christine Brown will be your independent voice in Congress. She takes no large donations, is beholden to no one except her constituents, and will make healthcare a top priority.

Carl Baker West Richland

It was the Three Devils Road closure that brought to light the glaring conflicts of interest within our county government.

Through public records, we learned that previous road closures/vacations were being approved in spite of public testimony to their usefulness. When decisions like this affect your way of life, it is time to pay attention.

Two-term Commissioner Jim DeTro voted to go with the hearings examiner’s decision not to vacate Three Devils, but that was after the deal was sealed — two votes to vacate already. He then admonished us for being arrogant, rude and despicable.

In August 2013, Jon Wyss, government analyst for the Gebbers/Gamble corporations, was hired as a consultant to county government to research the county’s finances in the county auditor and Department of Public Works. DeTro was chairman of the board.

In September 2013, at the hearing to vacate Hooker Creek Road, Wyss participated as county consultant and representative of the petitioners’ (Gebbers/Gamble). DeTro voted in favor of vacating Hooker Creek Road.

Other things that happened during DeTro’s tenure; placing golf courses in the open space tax classification (reserved for agriculture), giving priority to paving the road to the Gamble Sands Golf Course over other roads already planned for, and contracting out of union negotiations for $90,000.

Commissioners wield a lot of power, with the courts reluctant to review their decisions. Judge Hotchkiss told us that our remedy is at the ballot box.

I say we can do better. Independent candidate Salley Bull, of Oroville, is capable and ready to serve.

If you haven’t met her yet, please make a point of it. Go to her website www.vote4sal.com and/or give her a call. It is time for a change.

Ruth Hall Malott

In 2009 Congress created the beginnings of universal health care, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. The Republican led Congress has attempted over 70 times to repeal or diminish the ACA , with no viable plan to replace it. They did succeed at making it more expensive by chipping away at its financial foundation. Universal health care will actually cost us all less because more people will pay premiums, preventive care will be available and diseases will be treated earlier. Universal health care will be for everyone.

A recent UN report (June 2018) on poverty and human rights cited the USA as being at the bottom of the list in terms of providing health care. “Its citizens live sicker and shorter lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies.” The Democrats agree with the UN Human Rights Council that health care is a human right, not a privilege.

Universal health care is the No. 1 priority on Christine Brown’s platform.

Her Republican opponent, Dan Newhouse, voted against the ACA every time it came up for a vote. Christine Brown will help save the ACA and make it better. Vote for Christine Brown.

Emmett Marx Richland

I am endorsing Cari Hall for Okanogan County auditor. I have known Cari for many years, I had the pleasure of working with her in her previous position as chief financial officer for a large non-profit entity the county has connections with.

And, more important to me, I have had the pleasure of working with Cari on a daily basis for close to three years now, after given the opportunity to hire her as our finance manager for the county.

Cari is uniquely qualified for the important position of auditor.

She has the accounting background and experience to help guide the county in budgeting and financial matters as a member of the county finance committee, the members of which, by statute, is the county treasurer, auditor and chairman of the board of county commissioners.

She currently attends the monthly finance committee meetings to present the financial reports and answer questions.

Her advice and comments during these meetings, budget meetings, and throughout the year is respected and well received by the county commissioners as well as other department heads and elected officials.

Cari’s qualifications for the job include the knowledge and capability to understand the

mandated requirements and work in every department of the auditor’s office, recording, elections and licensing as well as finance. This knowledge stems from her willingness to help wherever needed, whenever she can.

Her eagerness to work and learn has resulted in state Department of Licensing Certification, not an easily achieved accomplishment.

Cari’s customer service is unsurpassed! She is exceptionally good with people.

She listens and is willing to go the extra distance to assist in whatever task, transaction or problem needs to be addressed and completed.

Cari has the respect and is well liked by everyone in the office, and I believe by most, if not all of the people she comes in contact with on a regular basis.

Please join me in supporting Cari Hall for auditor, she is the best candidate, and the only qualified candidate in the race.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to hear more of my thoughts.

As Auditor, I have worked with, and supervised both of the candidates. The outcome of this race is crucial to the success of Okanogan County.

Laurie Thomas, Okanogan County Auditor, Okanogan

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