EDITOR'S NOTE: The Chinook Observer asked the candidates in contested county-wide races to respond to a written questionnaire in order to give voters a better idea of their positions, experience and thought processes. Here are their answers, as we received them. Some candidates did not choose to answer all questions submitted.
County Commissioner Please give us a brief biography, including place of residence, education, work experience, and anything else you feel readers would be interested in. PAT HAMILTON: Residence-has resided in Labam for the past seven years. Education-Raymond High School graduate; Grays Harbor College graduate Work Experience-Severd twelve years as Commisioner Boards Served On-6 years on WA Counties Legislative Steering Committee Past President and executive board member on: Columbia Pacific Resource and Development Council Washington Counties Insurance Fund Former President: Washington State Resource and Development Council O3A Olympic Area Agency on Aging Rural Couties Commitee Board Member Coastal Communities Action Program Vice President: Olympic Regional Clean Air Agency. WAYNE ESTES: I have worked as a farmer, miller worker, logger and educator. I have been successfully married for the past 45 years. I own my home and I'm debt free. I will carry this stability over to the commissioners job. I have several hobbies including wood working, farming and old machinery. Describe what you see as the primary tasks for which the person in this position is responsible. HAMILTON: Primary Task: 1.) Set the County Budget 2.) Serve on the boards and committies as asigned and reflected in the experience portion. ESTES: The primary job for the Commissioner is management. For example I will meet several times a year with department heads and employee groups to see what the commissioners' office could do to help them to do their jobs better. The Growth Management Program has cost over one million dollars...I will make sure this is carried out in a timley manner. A year after your election, in what ways would the office be diferent than it is today? HAMILTON: A year after election, and during the year, I would work to continue upgrading infrastructure problems in each community. This would include the water systems, roads, etc. ESTES: A year after I am in office I would expect the permit process to be running smoothly, and each department feeling free to exchange ideas and viewpoints. What do you see as the strenghts and weaknesses of the county department you seek to lead? How would you encourage the former and correct the latter? HAMILTON: Strengths: I feel that I have had sucess with working with partnerships in solving problems. When there is a shortfall in dollars, you can be more competitive in finding funding when working with partnerships. Weaknesses: I feel there is a lack of communication within the county. People see the county performing permit reviews, inspections, etc. As they are only performing the duties as perscibed by the state. The county is not able to change the rules, however our staff members are the ones who become the focus. Please remember we are all just human. To change this problem, we need to have more accurate communication on who sets the rules. ESTES: The major strength of the commisionners office is to plan ahead, promote business and welcome new investors, as well as to defend the county from the state when their demands exceed reason. If the commisioners do their jobs there should be no weaknesses. How should the county deal with its current funding shortfall? What will you do to help? HAMILTON: The solution lies with better communication with the legislature on the true impacts of any given law. We need to compile a list of unfunded mandates and review them to find ways to reduce them. To save money we must focus on the basics. At this time I am working on this list for the 2003 Legislature. ESTES: There is a $32 million-plus budget. Before any layoffs I would go over the budget and eliminate any unnessasary expenditures. What do you envision yourself doing 10 years from now? HAMILTON: I would like to be working as an advocate for people in crisis. ESTES: The way the world is going at the present time one can not predict the future, however I will still be productive and making contributions to my community.
County Assessor Please give us a brief biography, including place of residence, education, work experience, and anything else you feel readers would be interested in. BRUCE WALKER: I am a 27 year resident of Pacific County. I moved to South Bend in 1975 and to Raymond where I now live in 1976. I am married and have three grown sons. I have competed three years of college and have an A-A degree from Grays Harbor College. I was a commercial fisherman when I moved here and in 1977 bought Willapa Net and Supply, which I owned and operated until 1992. Whenever business was bad I fished commercially in Washington & Alaska, including three winters in the Bering Sea. I have been a title officer at Pacific County Title since 1992, with the exception of about six months in late 1999 and early 2000 when I was an appraiser for Pacific County. I have been the senior title officer at Pacific County Title since 1998. I have been a hospital commissioner for Willapa Harbor Hospital since 1998 which included two years as chairman of the board. LISA OLSEN: Lisa Olsen, born Nov. 18, 1962 in Portland, OR. Moved to South Bend in the summer of 1972. Graduated South Bend High School in 1981. Went to work in the Pacific County Assessor's office in June 1981. Worked in a clerical position until 1988 when I became a real property appraiser. I am currently a Senior Appraiser, a position I have held since 1992. I have been married to Phil Olsen since 1985 and have a daughter Meg, 16, and a son Norman, 12. I was on the South Bend School Board for eight years and am a member of the South Bend United Methodist Church, where I am on the Board of Trustees and teach Sunday school. I have been a volunteer at the school and in the community for years in such things as KidsVoting, Booster Club, Labor Day Festival and many school related events. Describe what you see as the primary tasks for which the person in this position is responsible. WALKER: The assessor values property, sets levies and keeps track of property records for the county. The office also administers the various programs i.e.: senior citizens, disabled, timber, agriculture and open space under which taxpayers may qualify for lower rates. OLSEN: The Assessor is primarily responsible for the listing and valuation of real and personal property in the county for ad volorem taxation. Everything in the office revolves around the appraisal of property. I have been involved in both ends of this process for the last 21 years. I started out changing addresses and producing the assessment and tax rolls (when they were done by hand), then helped post and balance the tax and assessment rolls. I have been in charge of ownership changes and worked with all the special programs administered by the county-open space, timberland, destroyed property, senior citizen exemption-and an currently doing the appraisal duties that are integral to the processes. A year after your election, in what ways would the office be different than it is today? WALKER: A year from now the hours the assessors office will be open will be longer (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) The assessor will be at the Long Beach office on Friday, rather than Thursday morning. Record keeping will be improved. Segregation of parcels, which in some cases a year behind, will be up to date. Since all of the departments, with the exception of the sheriff and the county clerk are dependent upon real-estate and real-estate records, cooperation will be improved. OLSEN: If I am elected, it is my desire that by 2004 this office will be more efficient and responsive portion of Pacific County government. I would hope that the Terra Scan computer system would be up and running smoothly and shared by the Treasurer's Office In that same vein, that the Assessor's Office will be working more aggressively with other offices-with the Treasurer and Auditor to expand the services of all these offices in the Long Beach area, with the Department of Public Works and the GIS system in the county mapping so that we are only doing it once. That way the tax payers come into our office for information or assistance they are able to get the information they require in an acceptable period of time. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the county department you seek to lead? How would you encourage the former and correct the latter? WALKER: The main strengths of the Assessor's Office is the appraisers. They are experienced and are some of the best in the state. The weaknesses are record keeping, segregation of parcels and getting the taxes out in a timely manner. OLSEN: Strengths: Our staff. We have a really diverse and competent staff that with focused support and leadership can mesh into a great team. Weaknesses: I think our computer system has been our greatest weakness for a long time, but with the completion of implementation of the Terra Scan system that will no longer be the case. This system will help us tremendously in expanding our service to the public and the rest of Pacific County government. How should the county deal with its current funding shortfall? What will you do to help? WALKER: If elected I will allow the appraisers to institute some ideas they have wanted to try. Most of the problems at the assessors office can be resolved with longer hours and harder work. I will also bring some ideas from the title business which will improve record keeping and will better use the resources from other departments at the county. Budget cuts will mean that the elected officials will have to work harder. Since we are salaried employees, we can work as much as needed without costing the overtime. The computer system has to be up and running as soon as possible. I can use my experience from Pacific County Title to make the assessors office more efficient and use the records to help the other county offices do their jobs with less time spent on getting the information they need. OLSEN: The county needs to take a good look at revenue and expense projections, which I think they are already doing. The way I think I could help is to do the things I have already talked about to work together with the other offices to do more with less. I also believe the internal reorganization of our office will help fiscally so that we will be able to do more with the same number of people instead of needing more personnel. What do you envision yourself doing 10 years from now? WALKER: I hope to be working from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the assessors office. OLSEN: Looking at retirement and a whole new phase of my life. I don't look at my job as a "Gravy Train" that should be milked until the cow is dry. I would like this office to be in great shape for someone else to be taking over. Is there anything else you would like to add? WALKER: I think now is the tine to elect a candidate whose background is in the private sector. Budget cuts and unrefunded mandates from the state have forced government to be as efficient as possible. Small counties have to work together as a group to eliminate costly and in some cases ridiculous mandates from the state which are just not applicable outside the Pudget Sound area. OLSEN: I think I am the most common sense person to be Pacific County's next assessor. I have an all around and historic knowledge of this office. I know how it has been run and how it should be run. I think my people skills are conductive to a high level of cooperation between county officials and the public. I will be accessible and responsible to the extent of my ability. I will work hard and do the best job I can for the people of Pacific County.
County Treasurer Please give us a brief biography, including place of residence, education, work experience, and anything else you feel readers would be interested in. BRADY TURNER: I have called Pacific County my home for the last twelve years. My wife Tiffany and I reside in Ilwaco. I graduated from Ilwaco High School with honors, and I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Seattle Pacific University. Tiffany is an elementary teacher and I currently work as a manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Astoria, Ore. The position I hold requires a college education, a business background, along with strong communication and leadership skills. I have had to manage a fleet of over seventy cars and handle over forty corporate accounts, while overseeing two employees. TRACY SHAWA: I am 40 years old, a mother of three adult children, a wife of 23 years (yes, to Nabiel Shawa), and an owner/grower of an Ocean Spray cranberry farm. I also am pursuing my bachelors degree in accounting at Linfield through Clatsop Community College. I am currently at a junior level in my education. My last term I took 16 credits hours, worked 40 hours a week and maintained a 3.4 GPA. I have lived in Pacific County for 28 years (with a short hiatus to attend Pullman High School and Washington State University). We purchased our first home in 1980 in Ocean Park and have owned property in this county ever since. My work experience has included two years in our local school district and seven years in the banking industry. My current job at ShoreBank Pacific is the most multi-tasked, diversified job that I have had. I currently operate six financial software programs daily, am responsible for account and customer service on over 2000 accounts (including public funds from state and local government), cash balancing for the bank, certifications of bank general ledgers, and initiating significant funds transfers. My current job is closely aligned with the duties that I will be responsible for in the treasurer's office. I am very capable, hardworking, and energetic. I feel that I am the most qualified candidate for this position and I will serve the citizens of Pacific County well. Describe what you see as the primary tasks for which the person in this position is responsible. TURNER: I feel there is three primary tasks for which the treasurer is responsible. The first is the responsibility of collecting taxes. Second, the treasurer must invest and manage the county's funds. And third, the treasure must invest and manage the county's funds. And third, the treasurer must manage his office effectively so that the first two responsibilities can be done in an efficient manner. SHAWA: As setforth by State Law, the treasurer's primary duties include: receiving all funds due to the County; investing funds not required for immediate expenditures; maintaining specified records; redemption of warrants; sending out annual property tax statements; and various other mandated duties. Beyond the mandated duties, the treasurer must run a small, efficient office that operates in cooperation with other County offices and the general public. A year after your election, in what ways would the office be different than it is today? TURNER: After a year in office I feel the office would be running strong. My employees and I would have excellent working relationships. Communication and cooperation among the treasurer's office, the other offices, and the commissioners would be positive. The treasurer's office would have a computer system in place that is reliable and that can help get the job done right. SHAWA: Today there is uncertainty in the Treasurer's office caused in part by the elections, the impending crisis for 2003 property tax billings due to incompatible operating systems, and a leadership void that has resulted in a deterioration of office direction, moral, and coordination with other County offices. One year from now Pacific County will have its first woman (in at least 70 years) county treasurer. The treasurer's office will be: fully compatible with the assessor's system; a team player with other county offices; open to the public the same hours as the auditor and assessor; enjoying improved moral; and, operating with a full time treasurer. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the county department you seek to lead? How would you encourage the former and correct the latter? TURNER: I feel the major strength of the treasurer's office is its people. The employees have been there a while and know their jobs. The major weaknesses would be in the communication with the assessor's office and the commissioners, the openness with the public, and the much debated computer system. I plan to put a computer system in place that will work and that will continue to be effective in the future. I will rebuild trusting relationships with the assessor's office and the commissioners. Last, I will try to present reports to the public so everyone is aware of how funds are being invested and managed, as well as having the office open as much as possible for the convenience of the people. SHAWA: The real strength of the current treasurer's office is the staff. They've managed to keep the office chugging along despite the feuding and controversies. They understand what needs to be done and they work their way through it. The weakness is the incompatible system and the lack of leadership. To improve the staff's performance I plan to implement an operating system that is compatible with assessor's office. This conversion will be time consuming and at times frustrating. However, once the conversion is online and the initial bugs are chased out, the staff will be more efficient than ever. I've been through two complete operating system conversions in my bank employment, from inputing data, system beta testing and working with the vendors. I'll be present during office hours to share the work load. Reduced frustrations, better working relationships with fellow offices, and the upbeat attitude I'll bring to work will improve office moral. The treasurer's office will be an enjoyable place to work, which improves performance and customer service. How should the county deal with its current funding shortfall? What will you do to help? TURNER: With the current financial situation, the county must be conservative with its funds and make very careful and wise decisions. I will help the county by running the treasurer's office as efficiently as possible. I will make sure the county's funds are being invested and managed properly, and I will try to aid the commissioners in making more financially conservative decisions. SHAWA: In the current economic environment the county commissioners have no option but to cut expenditures in areas that will have the least impact on delivery of vital public services. That means it is likely the treasurer, along with others, will receive budget cuts. This poor county can not afford elected officials that only serve as figureheads. I intend to be a full-time working official. This, together with an improved operating system and a positive attitude, will enable the treasurer's office to operate with greater efficiency. I intend to review the cash management practices and look for opportunities to improve investment returns. The treasurer may also provide collection services for public improvement districts for which the office may charge fees which could result in a small amount of revenue for the County General Fund. Is there anything else you'd like to add? SHAWA: In the race for county treasurer my opponent has touted his bachelor's degree as his competitive edge. While education is important we must remember that an education does not make a person. I believe that experience combined with maturity, good work ethics, positive attitude and education makes a person most valuable. Our great country has produced many talented and successful people who have never obtained a formal education. I hope that any citizen who has a question about my education, work experience, or qualifications would feel free to call me. Yes, I have been a bank and credit union teller. There is nothing wrong with that career path. I have recently been offered management level employment with a local financial institution, but due to my commitment to my campaign I turned down the offer. My current job at ShoreBank Pacific centers on financial operations. I am disappointed that my opponent chose to distort my current job duties. The ShoreBank Operations Vice President reviewed my advertised job duties to insure the accuracy of my statements. Your vote for Tracy Shawa on Nov. 5th will put the most mature, experienced, and capable person in the treasurer's office. Thank you for your support.