Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Three vie for Dist. 2 county commissioner seat

07/20/2012

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

 

When two-term county Commissioner Mark Richard announced he wouldn’t be seeking a third stint in District 2, there was plenty of talk of who might come forward.

Turns out there were three: Rob Chase and Shelly O’Quinn looked to succeed fellow Republican Richard, while Democrat Daryl Romeyn also tossed his hat in the ring.

With the Aug. 7 primary ballots heading to voters’ mailboxes this week, it’s time for voters to decide who will be the top two candidates to head to the November general election.


Photo by: Gary Roberto

Chase is the current county treasurer, a Liberty Lake resident and married with four children.

O’Quinn, a longtime Spokane Valley resident, lives in the Ponderosa neighborhood with her husband and two children. She is the director of education and workforce development for Greater Spokane Inc.

Romeyn, a former television weatherman, had a failed run for Congress against 5th District Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in 2010. He is currently a farmer in the Greenacres area.
All three candidates recently returned questionnaires to the Spokane Valley News Herald.


Rob Chase
SVNH: Age?
Chase: 58.
How long have you lived in Commissioner District 2?
Thirty-seven years.

Why did you decide to file for this office at this time?
These are difficult times economically and will probably get more difficult. I would be a commissioner who understands this and would act accordingly by concentrating on necessary, proper, and open local government.

You and your competition have all mentioned at one time or another, or in your campaign literature, the need for economic development and job creation in Spokane County. What, specifically, will you able to do to achieve these goals if elected county commissioner?

By concentrating only on those great objects that government was instituted for: safety, sanitation, roads, infrastructure, and a safety net, we can create a climate conducive to economic growth.
What issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops?

Property rights, taxes, permitting, safety.
The city of Spokane Valley counts on/contracts with Spokane County for important services like animal control and public safety.

Do you feel like the commissioners have done a good job in communicating with Spokane Valley city staff and council members over the years since the city incorporated?
Yes.

What relationship do you see the county and city of Spokane Valley having in the years going forward?
Open and frequent communication on all issues. There may be opportunities for partnerships where economies of scale can be taken advantage.

Shelly O’Quinn
SVNH: Age?
O’Quinn: 37. I’m the mother of two wonderful boys, ages 12 and 7.
How long have you lived in Commissioner District 2?
Over 26 years, combined. I was born and raised in the Spokane

Valley and graduated from Central Valley High School. I have also lived in Honduras, California and Florida. The Spokane region is a great place to call home.

Why did you decide to file for this office at this time?
When Commissioner Mark Richard decided not to seek re-election, he and other elected officials and civic leaders asked if I would run for his position. I had not planned on pursuing public office this year and it was a tough decision to make. I love my job with Greater Spokane Inc. where I have the chance to improve education opportunities for our children and the ability to create jobs for our region. Ultimately, however, I realized that I could accomplish so much more for our community as a county commissioner.

I am passionate about our community and about creating an economic environment that not only allows our local businesses to grow and prosper, but that also attracts new companies to our region.

I understand that to attract and retain jobs, we must preserve what makes Spokane unique: Our quality of life. We must keep our neighborhoods safe, improve our streets, maintain our parks, and protect our environment -- all at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer.

I bring to this position a depth of experience and involvement in our community. I have been actively engaged in economic development, workforce development, public policy and major community initiatives in our region over the last five years. I have had the opportunity to work directly with our regions superintendents, university and college presidents, non-profit leaders and CEOs. These relationships will benefit the county as we work in partnership to ensure Spokane remains a great place to live, work and raise a family.

You and your competition have all mentioned at one time or another, or in your campaign literature, the need for economic development and job creation in Spokane County. What, specifically, will you able to do to achieve these goals if elected county commissioner?

Our county government plays many roles in promoting economic development. First of all, it has growth management, zoning and permitting duties. By quickly and efficiently responding to issues that affect the development of residential, commercial and industrial property, the county government can encourage home ownership, diversify our economy, and create good-paying jobs. The county must also be sensitive to how limits on the use of agricultural lands can affect the productivity of farms. I will ensure that our county’s policies and administrative functions place the highest value on accommodating economic activity – and this means, among other imperatives, respecting and protecting private property rights.

Second, our county government provides vital services that are necessary to maintain the quality of life that our citizens – and therefore our businesses -- enjoy. What business can thrive in a community that has rampant crime, a despoiled environment, and abject poverty? I vow to make public safety and funding of law enforcement and our judicial system a priority; those activities already command the largest single component of the county’s budget, as they should. I know that the county government owns a vast array of roads on which county residents rely every day.

Businesses need their employees and customers to safely and conveniently travel. In addition to roads, the county owns and operates other critical infrastructure, such as sanitation services, which are necessary to sustain a vibrant business climate. I will be vigilant in overseeing the operation of county government to ensure that it performs its duties as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Finally, when one considers the role of county government in facilitating the creation of private-sector jobs, they should keep in mind the impact that taxes have on the economy. The county government has a responsibility to be a good steward of our tax dollars. Our citizens and businesses are equally impacted by taxes.

An over-taxed and overregulated business will have neither the means, nor the motivation to invest in itself, grow, and retain or create jobs. An overly taxed citizenry cannot afford to buy products and services offered by our local businesses. Promoting economic development means a balance must be struck between County government’s need for tax revenue and the tolerance of our economy and citizens to pay taxes. As county commissioner, I will insist that funding for more public services should result from achieving efficiencies in county government operations and from greater economic activity – not higher taxes. No new or higher tax should be imposed without voter approval.

What issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops?

I have found people to be very courteous at the doorstep and I have been impressed by the breadth of their knowledge. I have loved hearing their concerns and learning from them about how government decisions have impacted their lives. The most common issue people have raised relates to the economy; they want to know when and how the economy is going to improve. Other issues have included public safety, education, private property rights and taxes.

The city of Spokane Valley counts on/contracts with Spokane County for important services like animal control and public safety.

Do you feel like the commissioners have done a good job in communicating with Spokane Valley city staff and council members over the years since the city incorporated? What relationship do you see the county and city of Spokane Valley having in the years going forward?

Because I am neither a county commissioner, nor a member of the Spokane Valley City Council, I do not have any personal experience on this issue. But I believe the county should continue to provide services on behalf of the city under two conditions: As long as taxpayers inside the city limits will shoulder a lower tax burden than if the city assumed the responsibilities presently being performed by the county, and as long as taxpayers living outside of the city of Spokane Valley are not required to subsidize services that the city can otherwise provide for its own citizens. Going forward, it is important that county and city officials work closely together (and have a good working relationship) to ensure that they are providing the highest quality service at the lowest possible cost to the tax payer.


Daryl Romeyn
SVNH: Age?
Romeyn: I am a 53 year old male.
How long have you lived in Commissioner District 2?
I have lived in Commissioner District 2 for 17 years.

Why did you decide to file for this office at this time?
The tax bill I get from Spokane County is the one bill I haven’t been able to do anything about in terms of cutting costs on the home front. I will hold the line on taxes if elected.

Too many families are dealing with flat wages, to many folks living on fixed incomes.

You and your competition have all mentioned at one time or another, or in your campaign literature, the need for economic development and job creation in Spokane County. What, specifically, will you able to do to achieve these goals if elected county commissioner?

Spokane County needs more economic activity and it is hard to come by. We all agree on raising the roof for Caterpillar and Boeing to locate here. I have initiatives beyond the obvious to boost the economy.

#1 Small Scale Agriculture: Let’s grow more local food for local people. We have the water, soil, and climate to create more ag-related jobs and create wealth from the soil.  
I will work toward a research orchard for the new apple varieties coming out of WSU.

#2 Tourism: Our county budget sure could use more tourism dollars.  Let’s capitalize on Gateway Park at State Line. It’s located along the Centennial Trail with river access, a dog park, and 50,000 people a day driving by. The infrastructure already exists including a closed visitor center. Let’s look at the possibilities for economic development.

Funding could come from some of the nearly quarter of a million dollars the county now gives special interests like the Spokane Chamber of Commerce.

#3 Manufacturing: Federal contracts to produce small lot runs of spare parts for the military are available. Small machine shops could be working right now if we had a partner to guide us thru the red tape involved to secure contracts.

What issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops?

People want government to match the size of the economy. Many are against any new taxes. No one wants to pay more. People comment about regulations, often getting onto state and federal issues.

The city of Spokane Valley counts on/contracts with Spokane County for important services like animal control and public safety. Do you feel like the commissioners have done a good job in communicating with Spokane Valley city staff and council members over the years since the city incorporated? What relationship do you see the county and city of Spokane Valley having in the years going forward?

This should be the closest of relationships in my mind since the city of Spokane Valley and the county are married like no two other entities. This comes out of the history of incorporation and the cooperation on services today. Talking to one another is half the battle, let’s find the ways to save money for the taxpayers and provide better service.

 

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