Douglas County Commissioner Ken Stanton and challenger Carol Kavanaugh offer irreconcilable differences.
Stanton, commissioner since 2000, insists his record demonstrates integrity and experience in improving County transparency and fiscal responsibility across all county services.
Kavanaugh, a realtor/broker, served on the planning commission since 2006 and chair for four years. “I am not a politician,” she told me. “I finally made myself a candidate after hoping another candidate would appear.”
Asked her if she believes, as some do, the Land Services staff run the county instead of Commissioners. “I absolutely do,” she said. “I have heard horrendous, abominable, unbelievable stories of when staff have been disrespectful.”
By the time media announced Kavanaugh’s candidacy on April 3, she had already received endorsements from the Boards of Directors of the NCW Association of Realtors, where she is the incoming president, and the North Central Home Builders Association.
Public Disclosure Commission records indicate she filed her first report by March 29 and by June 28 had received $16,500 from developers and realtors. Total donations reached $23,575 by October 16.
“I’m proud to be associated and aligned with the sellers and buyers of private properties,” she told me. “Builders create private sector jobs and houses and taxes.”
Stanton has raised $12,405 and made Kavanaugh’s backers a major issue. “I don’t think this is healthy for candidates in a county election,” he said.
John J. Corning told me developers have complaints. He’s a developer/Broker, VP of legislative affairs for the Association of Realtors and more. His firm and employees have donated $3,600 to Kavanaugh.
After Stanton investigated the complaints, he requested details. The Boards of the Association of Realtors and NCHBA presented 19 incidents in April and May, 2011.
“These examples illustrate an attitude by the Land Services Director [Mark Kulaas] which we believe is completely counterproductive … to fostering economic development in Douglas County,” Marc Straub, executive officer of the NCHBA wrote. “The NCHBA is looking forward to you for your intervention and resolution.”
The complaints included unreasonable restrictions in developable lands; costly errors, inconsistent requirements and misrepresentations of developer interests resulting in unnecessary costs, time and in-accessible data; denying public input where required; and exceeding authority to change committee recommendations, cancel meetings and call an executive session.
The county’s reply made both Boards mad, according to Corning. I was unable to get a copy of the reply by the paper’s deadline.
Corning confirmed he paid for and distributed a campaign flyer titled, “We Need New Leadership in Douglas County.”
Kavanaugh had nothing to do with it. The flyer has seven harsh accusations, including “Staff runs the County.”
Stanton responded reasonably, if not convincingly. Development advisory recommendations were partially implemented, such as reducing or eliminating developer fees. “Some wanted changes to go further. But development shouldn’t be placed on the backs of the Douglas County taxpayers,” Stanton said.
He said committees weren’t fired. Real estate accusations misunderstood the transactions. Planning commission appointments were approved by legal counsel. The state was responsible for the round-about. Changes in land use codes will be resolved at a hearing. A planning commissioner applicant resolved her conflict of interest. A tax increase was not canceled because of the election.
Would Kavanaugh combine better leadership while advocating for development? Don A Miller worked extensively with Stanton and Kavanaugh. “There is no commissioner close to what Stanton can achieve,” he wrote in a Safety Valve letter on July 26,
Angela King, former mayor of Rock Island was appointed to the planning commission while Kavanaugh was chair. “Ken Stanton is by far the better choice for Douglas County,” she said in a Safety Valve on September 16.
Shari Tincher, a registered commenter on Wenatchee World’s website said she had observed Kavanaugh at Planning Commission meetings. “She does a great job of becoming sidetracked and confusing and bullying the rest of the planning commission members,” Tincher said on April 3.
Kavanaugh’s Safety Valve supporters include Paul Mares, president, NCW Association of Realtors, Marc Straub Executive Director of the Home Builders, and Wynne Dacey, a friend and business acquaintance.
Kavanaugh admits her service has been combative. “I dare to question,” she told me.
She disputes Miller’s statements and said he was a former supporter. “Miller told me he wouldn’t have the courage to do what I did at a planning meeting.”
She believed King’s appointment was made without adequate publicity. “With all due respect to Mrs. King, there should be a do-over,” she said at King’s confirmation.
Legal counsel saw no need for a do-over.
Who is better qualified?
Kavanaugh and developers have raised serious issues that need to be addressed. However, her narrow experience and obligations to supporters might endanger effective long range planning.
I think Stanton has helped the County progress in a wide variety of areas.
Stanton is the better candidate.