June 14, 2016
Meeting was called to order by Phil Kitchel. Jerry Austin led the flag salute. Phil called for a moment of silence in memory of the tragedy in Orlando.
Due to time factor, minutes were not read and guests were not introduced. Phil mentioned Chamber breakfast on the 15th, PABA candidate forum on the 21st and PABA/Chamber breakfast on the 28th. Please RSVP to Jackie Riley.)
Andrew May started by moving that meeting be extended 15 minutes. Edna Petersen seconded the motion. Motion carried.
Andrew then introduced the four candidates for County Commissioner, Mike Chapman’s position. They are Gabe Rygaard, Maggie Roth, Randy Johnson and Ron Richards. Each had three minutes for an introduction, one minute for additional information, and one minute in closing after public question / answer period.
Gabe Rygaard has lived in the county all his life. He is concerned about taxes and about too much government. He feels that by coming from a hard working family, he is a jobs guy. He feels he knows the people in Port Angeles, Forks and Sequim because he works in each city. Gabe said he is not afraid of work, and said, “there is no limit to where you can go if you don’t mind who gets the credit.” He feels the money spent on SARC will benefit the County with 25 extra jobs. The recent tax cut brought a 14% increase in revenue. “Tax cuts increase revenue.”
Randy Johnson, a thirty-one year resident, felt his military, Harvard Business School and ITT background will be a plus for the job. Collaborative leadership is important since the County is on the cusp of great growth. Fiscal management of a budget that is spending down its reserves is needed now. Infrastructure such as in Carlsborg area, SARC, Veterans Affairs, Timber money and an aging County are important issues for him.
Maggie Roth, a thirty-six year resident of the area, talked about all her attendance at meetings and her work on the Charter Review. Economic Development such as timber and navy presence, Community Health and Safety such as Drug Abuse and Mental Health and transparency and accountability will be her focus. Veterans Affairs monies should be separate from the regular budget. Budget is not in as bad a shape as some people feel.
Ron Richards feels his experience in engineering, law, manufacturing, writing contracts and as a past County Commissioner make him qualified for the position. Jobs are important, especially to the older citizens. By bringing in more manufacturing jobs, the service industry will flourish. Budget problems, work force, substance abuse, climate change, fishing and timber are issues he wants to tackle.
Q & A Period
Brando Blore asked about a city bypass. Maggie Roth said it is not a County problem. Ron Richards said much of the bypass would be outside the city limits so he feels that the City, County and State should be in on the planning and financing. Gabe Rygaard said solid growth is needed to finance it, but the issue should be looked at anyway. Randy Johnson feels that entities involved should work together and don’t forget the impact on those living near a new route.
Jon Fager asked if they had read the Climate Change Preparedness Plan for the North Olympic Peninsula. None of the candidates had. Ron Richards said Dungeness Water Rule, Navy on the Hook, even though they ignored the possibility of a tsunami, reservoirs and withdrawal wells should be considered. He said it was while he was County Commissioner forty years ago that solar panels were put on the courthouse. Gabe Rygaard said the State policy encourages harmony and a kind environment. Randy Johnson said windmills were a good thing in the New England area but now power has become too expensive. Carbon Tax affects those in the rural area more than those in the city. Mills need to be protected. Maggie Roth said models show no evidence of climate change. Slash burning sends too much CO2 into the air. Gabe Rygaard said slash burning is in the past. Now firms like Hermann Brothers buys up the slash for biomass. Randy Johnson agreed that there is very little slash burning going on. Forest fires emit more CO2 than slash burning. Ron Richards said too many forest fires are due to climate change. Need to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. Gabe Rygaard said mills are closed but there is need for harmonious balance to keep them. Past County Commissioners failed to manage them properly. County, not the State, owns the timber land and they should be the ones to manage them. Maggie Roth said she will wait until the Timber Advisory Board bring outs their report and then will make a decision.
Edna Petersen asked if they had a magic wand or bullet what would they do to change or make jobs go forth. Randy Johnson said County made a mistake in not getting Foss to come here. Since County is so small it is important that City, County, Port, EDC, Tribes and Peninsula College work together to bring in, not drive out, jobs. Maggie Roth said Port has a good outlook and all should work with them. Ron Richards said County should live within budget. People are upset with increases in utilities, water and sewer rates. The Opportunity Funds should be used when possible, Gabe Rygaard said citizens need to work with the County, not against it. There is no reason that 300+ mill and timber jobs couldn’t be brought bakck The Cross Laminated Timber Industry is one that should be stressed. The woods and possible employees are here. It could bring jobs and people from all around the world to Clallam County.
Laurel Black asked what was the number one issue in the County. Maggie Roth said economy, cross laminated timber, light manufacturing that could easily haul finished product off the Peninsula. Ron Richards said climate control, solar power, transportation, work force, tourism and the Olympic National Park. Gabe Rygaard said jobs, expand and bring in more jobs. A functional airport and port. Randy Johnson said work force jobs, EDC, business retention and expansion, airport and airline (if people could clear customs in Port Angeles, they would come from as far as Bainbridge Island to catch a flight here.) Bigger and better motels.
Ron Richards thinks his background and experience speak for itself.
Gabe Rygaard said he is “the Job Guy” but feels help and concern for Veterans is necessary.
Randy Johnson said County should go back to zero base budgeting, infrastructure, veterans and trust land management.
Maggie Roth said natural resources, emergency services and presence of the Navy.
Next Week Speaker: State Legislature candidates.
Meeting adjourned at 8:46am.