Biggest bang for your ballot, meet your local runners

In this year’s election, Thurston County voters will be deciding on county commissioners, a public utility district commissioner, as well as a couple of country and local measures.

District 1 County Commissioner:

Cathy Wolfe, Democrat, has been County Commissioner for 11 years now. She supported the Critical Areas Ordinance, which protects the environment. She also has a goal to reduce homelessness in the area by providing more affordable housing. She plans on cleaning up Budd Inlet and ensure clean water, as well as adding stormwater regulations. Additionally, Wolfe wants to continue her work on reducing jail populations and help prisoners from relapsing back into crime after they’ve been released.

Organizations that endorse Cathy Wolfe include the Sierra Club, National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, Washington Conservation Voters, and Thurston County Democrats.

Karen Rogers, Democrat, plans to be as fiscally responsible as possible, and put tax money to best use. She has worked on the city council for a number of years. She helped to get a sales tax measure put on the ballot to prevent public transportation cuts, which she knows are important for many students. Rogers said, “Education has always been a huge priority in my family. I’ve already fought for students and education funding. And you can count on me to fight just as hard, if not harder, when I’m county commissioner.”

Organizations that endorse Karen Rogers include the Lacey Chamber of Commerce, Lacey Business League, Thurston County Realtors Association, Washington Hunters Heritage Council, and the Washington Farm Bureau.

District 2 County Commissioner:

Sandra Romero, Democrat, promises to be fiscally responsible and to have sustainable land use. She wants to slow down sprawl development, which is a low density development that relies on automobiles to get to. Sprawl development makes basic utilities more expensive, and it endangers wildlife. She plans to budget wisely, and she said she was rated the lowest spender at her time in the Legislature.

She also said she will listen to the concerns of anyone, and has even worked for making the information at closed government meetings more accessible to the public. She said she is passionate about having Thurston County stay unique and not become “Anytown, USA.”

Organizations that endorse Sandra Romero include the Thurston County Democrats, Democratic Women’s Club, WA Federation of State Employees Local 443, and the Thurston and Washington Conservation Voters.

Andrew Barkis, Republican, plans to help businesses develop and provide jobs for people in order to improve the economy. He plans to lower taxes and other fees for businesses to prevent them from going out of business. He will focus on the basic needs that the government is there to provide for its citizens, including public safety and social services. He also said he will listen to all citizens and will work for the people.

Organizations that endorse Andrew Barkis include Thurston County Republican Women, The Affordable Housing Council, Heritage Hunters Council, Thurston County Realtors, and Washington Farm Bureau.

Position 2 Superior Court Judge:

Christine Schaller has been the Superior Court Commissioner since 2005. In 2009, she won the Jurist of the Year award from the Washington State Bar Association Family Law Section. Many associations have said she is well qualified for the job, such as the Washington Women Lawyers, Joint Asian Judicial Evaluation Committee, and the Latina/Latino Bar Association of Washington. She said she realizes the importance of the law, but also realizes both sides of any case have “a lot at stake.”

Jim Johnson was the Washington State Assistant Attorney General for twenty years, and practiced law in his own office for several years afterwards. He was then elected to the state Supreme Court. In his time as an Assistant Attorney General, he tried many cases involving wildlife protections, while his private practice focused on civil rights and constitutional law. He wrote the initiative allows Washington citizens to vote outside of their preferred party.

Position 4 Superior Court Judge

Erik Price has nearly twenty years of experience practicing law. He was endorsed by local newspaper, The Olympian, and Supreme Court Judge Thomas McPhee. He said he will work to give citizens confidence. They will be respectfully heard by an impartial judge. He said he believes the role of a judge is important not only for criminals, but for those who might need a civil court, or those who are jurors or witnesses. He also said since many judge positions are up for election, it’s important to choose wisely because they will potentially stay in office for a long time. “Judges invest themselves in our community, which affects everyone greatly,” said Price.

Indu Thomas was admitted to the Washington State Bar in 1997 and began as a Public Defender. She recently served as Court Commissioner. Her focus is on providing justice for families, crime victims, and juvenile offenders. She is active in the community and served on the board of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Organization, as well as being a member of the Washington State Drug Court Professionals and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

Public Utility District 1 Commissioner:

Linda Oosterman will work to have clean and stable supplies of water and will conserve the resource.

Steve Fossum will maintain the infrastructure put in place by the PUD. He also wants to expand the PUD’s services beyond water.

Thurston County Proposition 1 would have the Public Utility District No. 1 of Thurston County acquire electric power distribution.

Pro:A statement submitted by John Pearce, Jim Lazar, and Paul Pickett said passing this initiative will save money and give residents a public option for power. They will also be using hydropower, as opposed to coal and gas.

Con: A statement submitted by Doug Mah, Ralph Munro, and Diane Oberquell said voters will be unable to reverse this change if the prices end up being higher and they become unhappy with public power. This happened in Jefferson County, where the switch from private to public power made the cost of electricity more expensive.

City of Olympia Proposition 1 proposes a sales and use tax increase of 0.1 percent in the City of Olympia. The money would be used for criminal justice and public safety.

Pro: A statement by Peter Guttchen, Jill Severn, and Paul Seabert said the tax is very small and won’t affect citizens very much financially. It also said over time, this tax will help to improve safety in the community.

Con: A statement by Glen Morgan, Ken McClarty, and Lucille Carlson said previous tax money has been used irresponsibly. Instead of having this tax, the city should make different spending choices and get the money they need somewhere other than another tax.

Tanglewilde Parks and Recreation District Proposition 1 This six year levy would fund the maintenance and operation of an outdoor pool and two parks in the Tanglewilde community. It would raise property taxes by $0.15 per thousand dollars. Only residents of the Tanglewilde district will vote on this measure.

Pro: A statement by Chad and Rachel Niemeyer said members of the Tanglewilde community have enjoyed the pool and parks for 50 years, and maintaining the pool and parks is worth adding the small tax.

Con: The Tanglewilde Parks and Recreation District said no one from the Tanglewilde community was willing to submit an argument against this initiative.