Local Elections with Universal Issues
Ballots should be mailed soon for the August 7 primary election. Primary results select the top two candidates for the general election and decide judicial elections with two candidates. I’m offering my reading of candidate qualifications in two local races based on statements in candidate websites, April interviews in the Wenatchee World and issues raised by online commenters who identified themselves.
The three-way race for Douglas County Commissioner in district one pits political experience against a congenial, but controversial candidate, and an experienced businessman’s focused campaign statements.
The incumbent is Ken Stanton, former chiropractor and restaurants owner before being elected commissioner three times since 2000. The World reported Stanton, “believes the commission needs his experience, especially as the county deals with shrinking budgets.”
He’s listed his accomplishments. He helped Rep. Armstrong secure local ownership of the Apple Capital Loop Trail’ eastside. He helped homebuilders and property owners revise regulations to reduce housing costs and protect personal property rights. He helped mental health services as commissioner-overseer of the remodel creating the Campbell Resource Center. He supported road improvements in Badger Mountain and Fancer Heights. He told the World, “I feel confident in the position we took” on the April vote for the Event Center tax, although two commenters said they’d vote against him for that stand.
Challenger Carol Kavanaugh supported the tax on the Event Center debt, challenging him instead because “People must … offer themselves as positive alternatives to elected officials who have forgotten the people who elected them.” The World article stressed her goals to create more opportunity and confront burdensome regulation. Her website lists two endorsers: NCW Realtors, for which she is the president-elect, and North Central Homebuilders. She has also been a board member of the Washington Board of Realtors since 2007. She lists her professions as residential realtor, licensed as a Managing Broker and a sole proprietor. She’s served on the Douglas County Planning Commission since 2006 and chair since 2008. She’s been active on committees with Eastmont Schools.
Commenters in the World’s article attacked her for potential conflicts of interest in property development around the airport and potential income as a realtor. She was also criticized for “becoming sidetracked” as chair and “bullying” planning staff.
The second challenger, Tom D. Irvin told the World he entered the race because “we need ideas and new visions.” His new vision focused on attracting new businesses with low power rates to increase tax revenues as Grant County has done. His County online voter statement says, “As commissioner I will pursue this avenue using my almost twenty years of business experience and my past fifteen years in the financial industry.” He owned men’s clothing stores for almost two decades before becoming a financial planner for investments and insurance. He’s served as president for Kiwanis and the Children’s Home Society.
Commenters questioned his candidacy because statements were limited to replacing the incumbent’s ideas and recruiting power-using industry. When I called Irvin to ask about the Event Center tax, he called the Center overbuilt and underfunded, but “At that point we had no other choice.”
The ballot has a two-person race for the Court of Appeals that hears appeals from trial courts in 20 Eastern Washington counties. The incumbent, Teresa Kulic, is challenged by Devin Poulson, city attorney for East Wenatchee. I gathered information from a nonpartisan website at www.votingforjudges.org plus candidate websites.
Kulic served as State Assistant Attorney General from 1981 until she was elected to the Appeals Court in 2006, rising to Chief Judge in 2010. She’s assembled endorsements from nine State Supreme Court Justices, Douglas Superior Court Judge John Hotchkiss and Douglas District Court Judge Judith McCauley.
Poulson, who refuses to accept donations for his campaign, began his 17-year legal career with cases in employment law and civil rights violations. In 2006 he became City attorney, increasing criminal cases from 425 to 721 by 2011. He lists two endorsements.
One hundred three members of the Chelan/Douglas Bar Association unanimously voted Kulic as qualified and ranked her as first choice, Poulson second.