I have mixed feelings about making political endorsements. There are several reasons:
• It’s true that newspaper editors pay more attention to candidates than most other citizens do, and we closely watch how they manage their responsibilities once in office. But in a county with only around 22,000 full-time residents, many know the candidates as well as I do and are perfectly able to make their own well-informed judgments.
• I’ve made mistakes. Over the decades, some candidates I worried about turned out to be competent and conscientious officer holders.
• While democracy thrives best when voters have multiple candidates to choose from, the hard feelings that can result from contrary endorsements and lost elections often linger on and on, especially in a low-population county where we all depend on cooperation and mutual support.
• Although I’m under no illusions that everyone likes me or the many decisions I make, I truly do like and respect virtually everyone on a personal level. This doesn’t mean I think everyone is cut out for the elective office they’re seeking.
Taking all that into account, here are some recommendations.
I recall meeting Pacific County Commissioner Frank Wolfe and his challenger Dan Driscoll at the same dinner party in Ocean Park nearly 30 years ago. At the time, Wolfe was still a busy professional international mariner and Driscoll was starting to revive his grandparents’ oyster business. Although I have annoyed them both from time to time, they’re each hard working and intelligent.
Driscoll’s dad coached my cousins Dick and Ray at West Seattle High. I’ve written sympathetically about Driscoll’s interminable regulatory dispute with the county — which began well before Wolfe was on the county commission — and I urged the county to relent. In this time of rising sea levels and intense concern about protecting shorelines, there is scant risk that his boutique oyster store will spark additional commercial development along the bay. The conflict was far more expensive than it was worth, in terms of money and good will. I’m glad it ended in Driscoll’s favor. But all this doesn’t mean he’s best qualified to run the county.
Wolfe’s past achievements as a commissioner and community volunteer can’t begin to be summarized in the space available here, but are thoroughly impressive. They range from spearheading the 36-unit Driftwood Supportive Housing project in Long Beach to successfully convincing the state not to require deep residential water wells for new housing on the coast.
But it’s his steady managerial hand during what is certain to be a financially challenging several years that most strongly argues for Wolfe’s reelection. With a yearly budget of around $43 million, county government is a huge, complex, full-time operation. Meeting our needs while staying within the budget requires experience, tenacity and patience. Wolfe is the clear choice for this task.
Dean Takko and Brian Blake
State Sen. Dean Takko and state Rep. Brian Blake each wield considerably more influence than most legislators, occupying a political “sweet spot” midway between Puget Sound’s liberals and the balance of the state that is moderate to conservative. The power to cast decisive votes in a legislature that is Democrat-controlled, but not overwhelmingly so, gives Takko and Blake good leverage on behalf of the rural interests of Southwest Washington. Add to this the fact that each is a powerful committee chairman.
This translates into millions each budget cycle for important local and regional needs. To cite just one current example, the Naselle salmon hatchery is being dramatically renovated and expanded thanks to their efforts. This preserves local jobs, not only at the hatchery but most notably in our crucial local recreational and commercial fishing industry.
Both are highly qualified by education, working experience and past political offices to be leaders in areas such as timber, fisheries and agriculture, upon which so many of our local governments’ finances depend. Revenues from the timber industry support junior taxing districts that help support, among other things, local fire and ambulance services. The health of these industries is locked into the health of our communities. Blake and Takko understand this and have worked as a team to support these industries.
The Washington Senate and House are certain to remain in Democratic control. While it has sometimes proven useful having Rep. Jim Walsh advocate for Legislative District 19 on the Republican side of the aisle, it would be a foolish sacrifice to replace proven leaders in the Democratic majority with novice Republicans in the minority.
We absolutely should reelect Blake and Takko.