Two-term incumbent Frank Wolfe is hoping that the third time’s also a charm, as he vies for another four years on the Pacific County Board of Commissioners.
Running as a Democrat, Wolfe, a Nahcotta resident, has served in a number of roles in Pacific County over the decades. A retired U.S. Merchant Marine officer and former small business owner, Wolfe has resided in Pacific County for more than 40 years.
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?
Frank Wolfe: I have served two terms as Commissioner. Prior to that I volunteered with the Joint Pacific County Housing Authority, the Pacific County Fair Board and have been an active volunteer with Pacific County Emergency Management Agency since 1980, for which I received the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award in 2009. I served with Pacific County Fire District No. 1 as a volunteer firefighter, EMT and training officer for 13 years, reaching the rank of captain.
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?
FW: Access to High-speed Broadband Internet service and living wage jobs/careers. These are related, as many employment opportunities are linked to Internet access. I sit on two groups that are looking into the Broadband possibilities, one with Pacific County leaders organized by the Port of Ilwaco, and the other sponsored by State Rep. Gregerson that is working at the regional level. Working together is very important, because a single Commissioner is hardly different than an ordinary citizen. Only when the commissioners work together as a team can they direct county resources and make changes for the better.
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?
FW: Our Public Health Department is leading the charge on the coronavirus front. They will continue to ask for resources to carry out efforts in that theater, and it will largely fall to the commissioners to find the funding for whatever is required. Eventually, it is hoped a vaccine will become available, requiring the logistics to inoculate essentially our entire population. As the pandemic is brought under control, federal and state funding may become less available. Since county revenue is always limited, any new spending generally means something that was done before, goes away.
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?
FW: At the present time, I’d say the county response has earned at least an “A” grade. It is difficult to compare Pacific with other counties due to our size, geography and uniqueness. I certainly support the mask requirement as appropriate. The effort and expense on my part is trivial, while meaningfully reducing the chance of spreading this virus. Compared to the very real possibility of inadvertently infecting a friend, wearing a mask is a just part of being in this place at this time. Ten years from now we’ll all look back and say, “remember wearing a mask?”
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?
FW: We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels as a nation, switching to some other means of powering our infrastructure than oil. One choice is solar panels to make electricity. When we replaced our roof, we added solar panels. Our PUD allows “Net Metering,” and my household participates. During the summer months we make more power than we use, and that excess is credited against the power we use in the winter. It’s a small contribution toward a cleaner future, but “the longest journey begins with a single step.” I’ve always thought a commissioner should lead by example.
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?
FW: For now, planning and raising citizen awareness are the only practical steps that can be taken. We could be on our own following a tsunami, possibly isolated for a month or more. While the tsunami itself is certainly a problem to be dealt with, so will be providing food, shelter, and medical help to the survivors. The county needs to begin by considering building any new structures on higher ground, with survivability in mind, whenever practical.
CO: How can the commissioners play an active role in supporting economic development and diversifying Pacific County’s economy?
FW: Pacific County sponsors the Pacific County Economic Development Council (EDC), which actively works to recruit, promote and assist economic development within our county. This office acts as a focal point with respect to these efforts, assisting businesses in a wide array of ways. The Governing Board includes elected officials from the county and cities, including commissioners.
CO: Simply put, why should the people of Pacific County vote for you in the general election?
FW: Experience in any job has value. Every job has things you can do, and things you can’t, ways to get things done, and dead ends that waste time. Getting to know how, within the county organization, to actually make something happen is a big part of the job. Identifying things that you cannot do is just as important. Commissioners are not all-powerful, but are hamstrung by laws, rules, regulations, and policies. County resources are very limited. My eight years as a commissioner is more experience than the other two commissioners combined, more than any newcomer to the job will have.