Dear Voters of Pacific County,
I am Todd Stephens, and I am running for Pacific County Commissioner, Position #3. I am the 5th generation of the Stephens family to live and work in Pacific County. My wife Vail and I have been married for 30 years, and we are proud parents of two sons. Hunter, our oldest, is currently attending Central Washington University. Our youngest, Hayden, is a sophomore at Raymond High School.
I’ve had the great opportunity to speak with many of you during the various forums, meetings, and town halls that have taken place thus far during this election season. For those of you I have not reached thus far, I’d like to address you as best I can.
Part of my vision for the County is to be more of a partner with our county businesses and residents. I feel that codes and ordinances can be streamlined and updated to facilitate business expansion, and not be just another layer of red tape to navigate. I feel that this would not only benefit the businesses and residents of the County, but would benefit the employees and departments of the County as well. I would like to be a regular attendee at organizational meetings in order to stay current on the needs of our economic groups; our farmers, fishermen, foresters, port districts etc. and make the County an active player in addressing those needs.
There are a few items I would like to tackle very early on should I become elected. The Department of Natural Resources has offered up considerable funding for starting up the Pacific Hardwoods alder mill at the Port of Willapa Harbor, for establishing a derelict vessel processing facility at the Port of Ilwaco, and addressing the needs of oyster growers related to burrowing shrimp. This is going to take a considerable collaborative effort on the part of the County, and I would like to wade right in and take full advantage of this opportunity. It has the potential to add a significant number of family wage jobs, bring desperately needed revenue to the county, and offer solutions to some significant issues facing our local businesses. I have already been involved in the process as a Port commissioner, and I would like to keep moving forward with this effort at the County level.
I would also like to join forces with the oyster industry in solving the issue between the State and the oyster growers, so that we don’t lose this industry altogether.
The budget is always a significant issue for our County. There are a great many services provided by the County, and those services come at a cost that keeps rising each year. Unfunded mandates from the State put a real strain on revenues that seem to shrink each budget cycle. I feel that taking advantage of the opportunity to restore operation to the Hardwood mill, firing up the derelict vessel facility in South County, making our codes and ordinances more user friendly, and getting the State to find solutions for our oyster growers instead of obstacles would possibly ease the burden of this issue. In addition, I am fully aware of the efforts of the Washington Association of Counties to find relief for our rural Counties and am willing to continue efforts with their support.
I feel that my education, training and experience make me the right choice for this position. I have 25 years of municipal public works experience, all of it at supervisory and management level. I have served 6 years as a city councilman, and am currently the Commissioner for Port of Willapa Harbor district 3. I’ve served on the City of Raymond planning commission and the Regional Wastewater Coordinating Committee. I have been awarded the Certificate of Municipal Leadership from the Association of Washington Cities, which recognizes education and training in disciplines like economic development, land use and zoning, budgeting, labor relations and a host of other topics. I’ve attended FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute in Maryland and received training on local government’s response to disasters
There are four collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) at the County, two with the Teamsters and two with AFSCME local 367. I have been a member of the Teamsters for several years, and I’ve been a past president of AFSCME 367-R. I know the importance of these CBAs for the union and the County, and have negotiated as both a union member and as an elected official. I know the representatives for both sides, and I am on good terms with both.
My involvement in public service has continued uninterrupted for the last 25 years, meaning I am current on most issues that face the County. I feel these things make me the perfect candidate for the position.
There are many issues and races facing the County that need our attention, and they need the attention of knowledgeable people with genuine concern for the well-being of our region. Get involved, get all the information you can on the issues and people on this ballot, and cast your vote. Of course I’d appreciate a vote for me, but I would be satisfied if everyone got informed, got involved, and sent in their ballots. Please take the time to vote this election cycle.
Thank you for your time and attention,
Todd P. Stephens