Of the two county commissioner primary races this fall, the District
1 Democratic candidates, while equally enthusiastic and determined,
present an almost completely different picture when it comes to
their experience and background.
Barbara Lampert, for instance, has run for county offices before.
In fact, she competed against Linda Wolverton, also a candidate
for commissioner, in a county treasurer race. She has memberships
in community organizations but has never held an elected office
or worked in government.
Tom Hargreaves also has never held an elected governmental position
but has extensive experience on boards and commissions such as the
Spokane County Planning Commission, the Spokane County Conservation
District, the Port District Feasibility Commission, Entrepreneurs
Forum and Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley.
Linda Wolverton, on the other hand, has 11 years as county treasurer
and four years as the county's financial manager. She's worked with
county budgets and has worked alongside many of the people she would
be dealing with as commissioner.
Each candidate, however, has something different to offer.
Lampert announced her intention to run for the spot being vacated
by Commissioner John Roskelley early on. This is not the first time
she has run for public office in the county.
Lampert has run for state Legislature, county auditor and county
clerk. She also applied for appointments to an open commissioner
seat and for county treasurer. She and current opponent Wolverton
both vied for that appointment, but it was awarded to Pat McGinn.
Wolverton went on to beat McGinn in the next election.
Lampert has been active in several organizations, including volunteering
at the Rainbow Center in Spokane, serving as an elected Democratic
Party Precinct Committee Officer, president of the Spokane Chapter
of the AARP, member of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, public
policy chair in the AAUW and a member of the Women in Education
delegation to Cuba.
Despite her luck in the past, Lampert is confident she has something
to offer voters in this election.
"I am not from the inside and never have been," she said.
"I have something new to bring to the table.'
Lampert has studied the budget travails in the county over the
past couple of years and says one of the way s to strengthen revenues
would be to allow development to go on in the urban growth areas.
"We need to speed up the process," she said. "This
will add to re-employment and income throughout the county."
She also sees the possibility of reducing upper and middle management
jobs in county government to help balance the budget.
"There are too many bosses and not enough front-line people,"
she said. "For each of these people let go we could hire three
line people making for better service for the public."
Another way to improve revenues, she added, would be to bring on
more employees who can build revenues.
"Sometimes we can improve revenues by having more police officers,
who in enforcing the laws could write more tickets."
Lampert's ideas come with some background. She holds a Bachelor
of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Washington.
Another aspect of her candidacy is her willingness to serve the
people of the county.
"Commissioners are a representative positions," she said.
"They must represent all of the county - staying in touch with
their constituents. I will represent them with gusto. That's what
It's a long way between an Air Force career flying fighter jets
and participating in flight engineering projects to county planning
and conservation, but that's the path Hargreaves has taken over
the years. Hargreaves has a degree in aeronautical engineering and
was an Air Force test pilot who worked as project manager on the
modern F-16 fighter. He also has a degree in the science of management
which included the science of making decisions - thus the connection
with his efforts today to be county commissioner from District 1
in Spokane County.
"This degree showed me how to take a systems approach at solving
land-use problems," he said. "It is most important to
look at the big picture when making decisions."
Hargreaves has put that education to good use as a county planning
commissioner for the past seven years. During that time, he and
the other commissioners developed the county's comprehensive plan
from scratch, making it user friendly.
"The issue was readability and understandability," he
said. "We wanted the man off the street to be able to pick
up this document, read it and understand it."
He added that by making it easy to understand, it speeds up the
Addressing the county's budget problems, Hargreaves said he would
like to develop a multiyear budget. This doesn't mean he wants to
plan a budget years ahead, but it would mean looking ahead to see
what needs will be coming up, such as sewer construction or other
capital facilities, and then making each year's budget acknowledge
that potential expense.
He also would look at ways to balance the budget. He said he would
look for and find priorities, something that hasn't been done to
"I would look at the whole situation before any cutting,"
he said. "I will work to revise the budget effort to a broader
process that focuses on funding the necessary services and plans
for future needs."
Economic vitality stands out has one of the most important issues
facing the county, Hargreaves said.
"You take care of that, and that takes care of all of the
rest," he said.
He says be does believe in a balance of economy and environment,
"We have to be aware of the natural environment," he said.
"We need to vitalize the community's economy responsibly and
cooperatively. We need to preserve the natural environment vigorously
but reasonably And we need to rebuild a county government to one
that's first class and friendly."
The only candidate with actual county government experience, Wolverton
is relying on her experience in managing people, managing money
and budgets and her successes in the treasurer's office to propel
her into the soon-to-be vacant commissioner's chair.
Wolverton currently manages a $700 million investment portfolio,
believed to be the largest in Eastern Washington, and has managed
$6 billion annual cash transactions without an audit finding.
Actually, Wolverton had originally decided to retire after her
current term as treasurer was up in two years, but decided she had
something to give to the county as commissioner. She is confident
she presents a completely different candidate than the other two.
"I have been working with the county over the past 11 years
and have proven experience," she said. I feel I have made good
decisions while in my office."
She acknowledges that the city of Spokane Valley has had a dramatic
impact on the county's budget. She has a little different solution
to that, however.
"I would negotiate with the city to take over the services
the county is providing it right now," Wolverton said. "This
would be contingent on them taking the county employees who are
working these departments now and take them whole, getting the unions
She said if the city agreed to take on the employees at their current
salaries, benefits and seniority, she would give the city the infrastructure
that goes along with those departments.
"As soon as they voted to have a town, the whole thing changed
and we (the county) just haven't dealt with it," she said.
"The city could decide not to contract with the county at any
time, so why wait for a sudden death?"
She said it would be better make the change early on that to deal
with it after the decision has been made by the city to drop the
county contracts. Currently the city contracts for police, road
work, sewers and other services.
Wolverton has two main concerns for the county. The first is the
viability of Fairchild Air Force Base.
"I lived in Moses Lake when Larson Air Force Base was closed,"
she said. "I don't want that to happen here."
Her second biggest concern is the wastewater treatment plant and
drinking water in general.
"Drinking water will be our biggest asset in future years,"
she said. "Businesses will want to be here because of the water
She said the aquifer needs to be protected and the new sewer treatment
plant is connected to the water system. She said she would like
to see a conservation program in place that would be a true public-private
"I would like to see landscape businesses providing information
on drip irrigation systems and drought resistance plants,"
she said. "This would have a big impact on the water in our
area. We need to address this to promote growth."
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