In what is his first foray into public office, Darrell Moudry is taking on an incumbent for a seat on the Pacific County Board of Commissioners for the next four years.
A South Bend resident, Moudry, running in the election as a Democrat, is currently an employee in the county maintenance department. Previously, Moudry worked at Coast Seafood (now Pacific Seafood) in South Bend for 24 years, the final 17 of which he was the plant manager.
Chinook Observer: What makes you qualified to serve on the Pacific County Board of Commissioners, and what prior experience do you have in community and public service?
Darrell Moudry: I managed the Coast Seafoods oyster processing plant for 17 years and learned that being a great manager isn’t just telling people what to do, but rather being a support system for those that work for you. Likewise the responsibility as commissioner is to support our citizens and county staff. In order to succeed in private business, you must work hard and be open to employees’ ideas and initiatives. As commissioner I will work equally hard for the people and staff of this county with that same mindset. I have volunteered and coached for our local girls softball association, and if elected commissioner it will be my first experience in public service.
CO: What are the two most critical issues facing Pacific County, and how, as just one of three commissioners, do you plan on addressing them if elected?
DM: I believe the two biggest issues right now are Covid-19, and the budget shortfalls due to it. As commissioner I will follow the science as recommended by state and local health officials. Aggressive, yet safe reopening of businesses is crucial, as well as securing any and all covid relief dollars to help those most affected by the virus. I have helped build, and operated under budgets from cash strapped years, to multi-million dollar profits. The key to meeting or exceeding budgeted goals is to be very familiar with every aspect of a budget, routinely monitor results, and react quickly when change is necessary. I will put in the time to assure I’ve done my best to help maximize our tax value.
CO: As we continue to recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic, what county services will you prioritize in the budget during your term, if elected?
DM: All of our county services are essential, but I would have to prioritize our sheriff’s department. As a county we are at a minimum staffing level for deputies, and there is a big investment in each with the required months of training, evaluations, and necessary equipment. With such a large investment already spent, and a huge impact on public safety, it’s an easy choice. Secondarily the Department of Public Works is another service that is critical to public safety. We must ensure our roads and county properties are maintained to at least minimum safety standards. Being a large portion of the county budget there will likely be some concessions made within these departments, but we cannot be negligent to the safety of our citizens and county staff.
CO: As of this writing, how do you evaluate the county’s response to the pandemic? Do you support the Washington State Health Department’s mandate requiring masks to be worn when out in public?
DM: Our local health department has done a spectacular job with weekly county infection updates, the biweekly covid community forums, and testing for the virus. It is essential the county receives honest information on this disease based on facts and science. I do have reservations with two current commissioners on their response to date. Early opening of our courthouse to the public outside of state and local recommendations/requirements, and apparent disregard for our medical professionals, is not how we will beat this virus and keep our community safe. I strongly support masks to be worn when in public. Right now it’s our best defense from spreading this dangerous virus to others.
CO: With sea level rise expected to begin affecting many areas of the county within the next few decades, what role should the commissioners and the county play now in helping to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change in both the near and far future?
DM: Sea level rise is due to thermal expansion caused by ocean warming and ice melt as a result of human activity emissions. In our neck of the woods however, the land mass is actually slowly rising due to the ocean plate pushing upwards on the continental plate. Unfortunately when a large earthquake eventually hits, the land will fall, and sea level rises suddenly. Given that, the best we can do at a local level is to champion the eventual discontinued use of fossil fuels, possibly revise future coastal zoning restrictions, and prepare the best we can for the devastation associated with such an event which I will touch on in the next question regarding tsunamis.
CO: What role can or should the county play when it comes to supporting tsunami response measures, such as the construction of vertical evacuation towers in inundation zones?
DM: A tsunami and earthquake associated with it has the potential to cause catastrophic damage to our coastal communities, as well as restrict or eliminate the ability to use roads. Food and medical supplies could quickly become immediate needs within days without our travel lanes. If feasible, elevated county properties may be sites that could contain storage containers or something similar to keep emergency food rations and other necessary emergency supplies to help those in need until logistics are restored. Fire District No. 1 had a study completed last year on a proposed tower which could double as a fire training center, which would accommodate up to 400 people in an emergency situation. Unfortunately, the cost would be near the entire annual county general fund budget of $10 million each. Cost is definitely an issue with either proposal as FEMA only funds after a disaster, not in preparation for it.
CO: How can the commissioners play an active role in supporting economic development and diversifying Pacific County’s economy?
DM: The county supports the Pacific County Economic Development Council. Advertising, support, and opportunity availability, are among what’s offered to potential new businesses and business development in our county. The Long Beach Visitors Bureau funded by the county and lodging tax enhances our tourism dollars on the peninsula. It is important the commissioners stay engaged and active with both to ensure we get the maximum benefit from their activities.
CO: Simply put, why should the people of Pacific County vote for you in the general election?
DM: My management experience has equipped me with the skills needed for positive change in our county. Leadership, communication skills, fiscal responsibility, and educated decisions are among those I feel is needed in our commissioner room. I will always be an independent thinker, not solely relying on my own opinions, use for personal gain, or would I ever employ the buddy system. This is not happening now, as two of our commissioners have voted the same consistently for the last two years, rendering the third ineffective. I will be your full time commissioner putting in the time necessary to ensure that citizens and county staff know they are being heard, and work tirelessly to ensure I make the best decisions possible for our county.