Bob is very familiar with the issues people are concerned about. Bob's long-standing involvement with many local groups shows that he doesn't just talk about the issues--he is already actively working toward their solutions.
There are several resources to help you evaluate the candidates:
Compare candidates with the League of Women Voters website.
The Chelan County Voter's Guide is also a good resource.
For more of Bob's perspectives on issues facing Chelan County, read on...
As your Commissioner, I will work to maintain our county’s finances at a healthy level. I will work closely with each of the Departments and my fellow County Commissioners to continue to manage our finances well. My priorities will be to maintain public safety and road safety. I will strive to maintain or even improve levels of service in those critical areas.
As our communities grow, we will face new challenges in paying for some of our community needs. We will need to be resourceful in looking at ways to minimize our costs, be more efficient, and also seek outside funding. I already have a positive working relationship with key people in many of the county's cities, Ports, Public Utility Districts, and other neighboring counties. Working with all of these groups, we can come up with creative ways to finance services that are common to all of us.
Public safety for our residents is an important responsibility. There is a high demand for adequate police and fire coverage, particularly in unincorporated areas such as the Upper Wenatchee Valley. We must work closely with all of the Upper Valley communities and the Sheriff’s Office to respond to all needs throughout the county. Again, strong partnerships with our cities and towns is essential.
As cars are becoming more efficient, the motor vehicle gas tax is contributing less to the County’s budget. This reduction in income will affect the Public Work Department’s ability to repair roads, handle stormwater runoff, treat our wastewater, and other critical services. I will work directly with Public Works to explore options to keep our roads safe.
The high cost of buying or renting a home has been a concern for years and is only getting worse. The problem has many reasons: available land, permits, materials costs, and labor shortages, to name a few. The solutions will take many steps.
For the past few years I have been actively involved with Our Valley, Our Future, a local grassroots group working on solutions to local issues. The OVOF Housing Solutions Group brought together realtors, appraisers, builders, land use planners, and others to talk about creative solutions to the housing crisis. Their recommendations include ideas such as streamlining the permit process, providing incentives for alternative housing designs (bungalows, townhouses, 4-plexes and micro-homes), supporting covenants that allow more flexibility, and incentives to build homes within the urban area. Other communities have successfully used these new home concepts--and we can learn much from them.
I support the recommendations developed by the Housing Solutions Group. The best solutions often come from grassroots, voluntary efforts of people most impacted by the problem. Our Valley, Our Future has brought all the right people to the conversation to come up with local solutions that benefit our community. We are always better working together.
Chelan County is experiencing record-breaking growth. We have been “discovered” by many in the Puget Sound Area that are looking for a better quality of life, and see it in Chelan County. We offer easy commutes, fast fiber, and unlimited recreation under open skies. We have much to offer! As more people move here, there are increased demands on our infrastructure, public services, and our natural resources. Without a plan, we will be overwhelmed.
As Commissioner, I will focus on a long-term plan to accommodate our growth. I will seek extensive input throughout our community to talk about how and where we want growth to happen. Planning does not mean additional regulations. There are enough on the books now. We must be thoughtful about where we want growth to occur and make sure we have the infrastructure in place to support that growth. The County’s Community Development Department is critical to creating a plan that works for all of us.
While growth is inevitable—with a long-term plan we can grow in a responsible, practical manner that keeps our community a great place to live.
Forest health, wildfire risk, and rural economic development are inextricably linked in Chelan County. We have tremendous opportunities for partnerships in addressing this growing problem, be it the NCW Forest Health Collaborative, the State’s 20-year Forest Health Strategic Plan, the Community Wildfire Planning Assistance Program, and some very productive local grassroots efforts, including The Era of Megafires, The Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition, and the Forests and Us Program. Each of these is bringing essential information--and funding--to our County for wildfire preparedness and forest health.
We need to advocate for funding at the state and national levels to develop market-based approaches to reduce the wildfire risk in our forests. We can advocate for development of a small-diameter lumber mill (with capability to produce cross-laminated lumber products) in Chelan County. This will provide living-wage jobs for many in a new-generation forest products industry. This opportunity is based on strong partnerships with state, federal, and non-profit entities, which we can actively promote.
In conjunction with private funds and combined state and federal grants, the County’s support of Cascadia Conservation District is necessary for Firewise outreach to homeowners, particularly as the number of home in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) is increasing in Chelan County. As part of that process, we should consider disincentives for building in high fire-prone areas.
For the past year I talked with hundreds of people throughout the county about running for County Commissioner. Over and over I have heard the same comment--we need to get past partisan disputes and focus on solutions that meet the needs of everyone in our community, regardless of party, race, or economic status.
I spent my entire career bringing people together toward common solutions. This is my greatest strength and something I am most proud of. I can listen to all sides and hear the positive that everyone brings to the discussion. I approach every problem with an open mind. I am a moderate non-partisan.
I will put the public interest ahead of any special interest, can use common sense, and find common ground to solve problems. The most important responsibility of a commissioner is to set the tone for our government. I am inclusive, respectful, and open to all ideas. I will set the right tone.
Over 100 years ago, we invested public dollars to develop a reliable water-supply system to irrigate our orchards. This infusion of public funding spurred the proliferation of a multi-billion dollar private enterprise that is now the backbone of our economy. Years later, public investment into hydropower resulted in our greatest resource: clean, renewable power. Think of the benefits those two public investments (irrigation and hydropower) have made into our private enterprises, our economy, and our quality of life!
Now is the time for Chelan County to support the next investment: outdoor recreation. Mission Ridge, Wenatchee Foothills, and the Alpine Lakes clearly demonstrate the economic drivers that these assets are for our communities, with the jobs that are created, the capability to recruit businesses, and the indirect benefits to our restaurants, motels, and others. The return on these investments are solid--and Chelan County should partner with the chambers of commerce, port districts, and non-profits to strengthen these investments. The return on investments will be a great benefit to our private sector.
Since marijuana production was approved in Washington State through Initiative 502, growers have specific rights that are outlined in that law. There are many growers in Chelan County that acted in good faith, they operate in a professional manner, and they contribute significantly to our economy. They have rights under the state’s law, which should be recognized, but also the County’s rules must be followed. At this time the Chelan County Commission has specific restrictions on marijuana production. Since those are the rules set by our current commission, they must be followed. However, I am willing to consider modification of those rules as a commissioner, as this is an important industry to be supported.
A reasonable and responsible individual cannot ignore the preponderance of scientific evidence that human-caused climate change is occurring through carbon pollution. This in turn, will cause economic impacts to many sectors, and I believe Chelan County will be harmed from climate change, if we do not step up to address this issue. To take no action--on the philosophy that it will harm our economy--is shortsighted, wishful thinking.
Snowpack is our life blood, providing water for our most important industries: hydropower, irrigated agriculture, snowmobiling and skiing, and fisheries resources--as well as providing for a diverse and growing recreational economy. We must be more proactive in this effort. Like our previous efforts to develop local solutions to recover salmon, we must show leadership in addressing this challenge.
Thanks to our PUD, Chelan County is in a remarkably unique position to benefit--greatly--from a transition to a regional economy based on clean energy. Our transportation, public transit, irrigation water supply, and agricultural product delivery could advance into a new and productive era, if we are proactive about climate change adaptation. Partnerships are imperative--and very possible--to make this happen. Together, we can build a stronger community--through creative and proactive partnerships. Divisive rhetoric benefits no one.
Irrigation is the backbone of our economy. One hundred years ago, we invested public funds into a reliable water supply system, which spurred the investment of private funds for our orchards and farms, now a billion-dollar industry. We need to ensure that these supply systems remain as reliable in the future as they have been in the past. Forums such as The Icicle Work Group and The Stemilt Partnership are vital, grassroots planning efforts to reconcile issues and develop consensus-based implementation plans for a well-managed water supply system. Once these plans are set, funding from outside sources is highly likely for implementation. A true “win-win” situation! Chelan County should remain a leader in these efforts.
Not long ago, Salmon Recovery was a source of great contention and litigation. Now, it is an economic driver in our communities. That is solely based on the development of partnerships through the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board and the PUDs’ Habitat Conservation Plans--both of which are major parts of my career. Previously mired in litigation with Tribal, State, and Federal governments, Chelan PUD and Chelan County are now working in partnership with those same entities to address a complex and multifaceted problem. This approach works for salmon, and it can be done for other natural resource challenges (forest health and climate change for example). We are better together. This is my core strength.
Along with inclusive dialogue, peer-reviewed science is the basis for good public policy. Improved technology and data are now available for better delineation of critical areas for protection of key fish and wildlife habitats. This information should be used by the County to draw unambiguous maps and guidelines for critical areas--which ultimately improves regulatory certainty for developers. In the long run, this is a cost-effective, economic benefit to our County, as building in flood-prone, landslide-prone, or wildfire-prone areas costs the taxpayer more than it benefits the taxpayer. Unnecessary clearing and grading of land should be examined, as the cost to respond to infestations of economically-damaging noxious weeds on cleared land--through the Chelan County Weed Control Board--can be a burden to the taxpayer.
in the news
I have been an active member of the community, willing to share my views on local issues through opinion pieces and letters in the Wenatchee World. I have also been featured in many articles. A County Commissioner needs to be willing to speak up--something I have been doing for many years.