One of the most effective ways to bring about positive change is to become a public servant. Benton County is my home. I care about this community and want it to be the best that it can be for all of its residents.
I have felt called to stand for elected office for some time and have a history of leadership positions with non profit boards and city and state commissions that I will describe through which I’ve worked to raise the profile of our community across the region and the state. Additionally, many community members have encouraged me to run for years, and I am pleased to have answered their call to stand as a candidate in this race.
I think it’s important that voters have options in local partisan races which I see as a central element to our nation’s democracy. In 2016 my opponent ran unopposed for his second term as Commissioner. This election cycle brought forth not one, but four challengers in the Primary, three of which were from his own political party. I find this to be a serious indictment of his recent record in office. In fact, his own party did not endorse him in the Primary and has not made an endorsement in this race for the General Election.
Benton County’s government has flown under the radar for too long. So many citizens don’t know what services it provides, who their commissioners are, or what they do. I have committed to engaging the public and have a strong desire to expand the accountability and transparency around the office of the Commissioners.
Benton County has an opportunity to more closely partner with city jurisdictions and neighboring Franklin County on creating a collaborative vision for our future and how these local government jurisdictions can work together in harmony for the benefit of all. However, the county has historically operated in a siloed fashion. My opponent has strained many relationships with his jurisdictional counterparts and has not always negotiated with partners in good faith. I know this because many of them have told me so throughout this campaign, and I’ve been listening to people discuss their concerns about the county off and on in a variety of forums for years. This is not a new local reality or something I am attempting to exaggerate as part of my candidacy.
Throughout this election cycle, my opponent has repeatedly touted that his experience is the primary factor as to why he should be reelected. And it’s true, he does have more experience than me in that he has now held a variety of offices for some time. But this is the standard line in the incumbent’s playbook being used around the country as we speak. Just because you’ve done something for a long time doesn’t mean you should keep doing it, and it doesn’t necessarily equate to a job well done. Now, my opponent’s entire record in office is not what we’re examining in this race; instead, this is the equivalent of an annual review for a full time job with a six figure salary in which we are reflecting on his actions or in some cases, inactions during his most recent term as county commissioner. Experience alone is not enough.
My opponent has failed us on public safety sales tax money transparency, the embarrassing process surrounding the transfer of the control of the county jail, a lack of civility in his relationships with other elected officials and lead city staff, personal antagonistic history with the Sheriff that clouds the ability to govern impartially, a COVID-19 response that was too little, too late, terse exchanges when questioned on issues by constituents and media reporters, and an attempt to divide the bi-county Superior Court without due process of public input or seeking the support of the many attorneys and judges who work for the court.
One of the challenges of running against an intrenched incumbent is the reluctance of many community leaders to speak on the record about these and other frustrations. But I can tell you that the #1 common thread I have discovered is a growing disdain for my opponent in his role as Commissioner from people across the political spectrum. He maintains that he would change nothing about the county’s current operations and that there are no problems with the county’s relationships with its partners. He has not acknowledged shortcomings or apologized for mistakes. I would argue that his unchecked experience has turned into arrogance, clouded his perceptions, and led him to an “I know what’s best” philosophy. This attitude is far from the heart of a public servant.
I stand for Governance not Grandstanding: I don’t have the propensity to point fingers and divert blame, especially during a public meeting. I am a voice committed to civility and respect in our political discourse and believe that the best decisions are made when viewpoints are thoughtfully considered and debated, and, by engaging the public in the process. I am a founding member of the Tri-City Civility Caucus started in the fall of 2018 following a presentation given locally by Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse and Democratic Congressman Derek Kilmer. I was recently elected by the members as its first Chair in a motion made by our own Republican Senator Sharon Brown and seconded by Republican Representative Matt Boehnke. I have received over 70 public endorsements from a diverse array of local elected officials, community leaders, unions, and small businesses, including true bipartisan support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. This is a reflection of relationships I have developed and of my ability to work respectfully with people, no matter their political leanings.
I will bring a balanced approach to decision making and budgeting, a civil voice to political discourse, and believe I am the responsible choice in this election as we continue to battle COVID-19 well into the future. After conversations with my board and lead staff about a potential succession plan, I am ready to step back from many of my current work roles and responsibilities if elected. I’ve been a full time candidate: I’ve answered the questionnaires, I’ve shown up to forums, I’ve scheduled meetings and phone calls; I’ve done my research. I’m ready to be present as a full time Commissioner to work on behalf of all of our citizens, and perhaps more importantly, work with those citizens to make Benton County a more just, equitable, and desirable place to live and work. I’m ready, and I ask you for your vote. Let’s get to work, together.