On the issue of campaign financing, how much money have you raised for your campaign, how much do you hope to raise, and what are your thoughts about whether candidates are later influenced by those who support their election?
Ken Stanton: I have raised a little over $12,000 and do not intend to raise much more. I consider an “Endorsement” as valuable as a cash contribution. I have never felt influenced by contributions to my campaign, that is why, if you look at my Public Disclosure filings you will see that the majority of my financing has come from individuals, the Douglas County Republican Party, Informed Citizens Coalition and the Chelan/Douglas Republican Women. These contributors have NO special interest connections.
Carol Kavanaugh: Our campaign has raised approximately $20,000. I would not presume to speak to the anticipated behavior of others. Answering for myself, one of the reasons that people have wanted me to run for Douglas County Commissioner is that they know I am an independent thinker. I decide what I say and what I do. People who allow others to determine what they will say and do do not deserve the honor of holding an elected office.
WW: Businesses have complained that the county’s permitting process for starting up and construction is long and cumbersome. Do you consider this a problem and what would you do about it?
Stanton: We are often compared to Chelan County when it comes to length of time to issue building permits. We are proud that our permits are issued usually quicker and have instituted the “U-PERMIT” online site so that applicants can follow the process of their permit. Complying with Growth Management, Federal Stormwater requirements and Shoreline Regulations, make some processes slower. This is not unique to Douglas County. We have spent the last several months looking at county policies and codes to see if adjustments can be made that do not place additional burden on taxpayers.
Kavanaugh: Yes, it is a problem. One of the reasons I decided to run for Douglas County commissioner has been the stories that people have related to me as a Realtor and also as a volunteer on the Douglas County Regional Planning Commission regarding their impossible experiences with the permitting process and the Department of Transportation and Land Services. I will propose to my fellow County Commissioners that the County codes be reviewed and revised to be made reasonable. County regulations can and should make sense. As a county commissioner, I will expect that the people who request assistance from Douglas County employees will have a positive experience. Please visit our Facebook page Friends of Carol Kavanaugh to read a letter that was written by a county resident who wished to know if painting his old shed would require a permit or not. If his experience was as astonishing as it was, only for a painting an old shed, a person can only imagine the multi-layered experience of a business person attempting to locate a business in Douglas County. I have heard too many times “I won’t ever try to do anything in Douglas County again.” I intend to invite and bring those people back.
WW: The Chelan County Regional Justice Center has been an ongoing topic since Douglas County started sending some of its inmates to Okanogan County. Commissioners recently decided to send all inmates to Okanogan County, raising concerns with your sheriff and public defense attorneys. Do you think inmates should continue to be sent to Okanogan County? Why or why not?
Stanton: Since the Jail Partnership was terminated between Chelan County, Douglas County and the city of Wenatchee and we have been a “bed renter” we have saved the taxpayers of the county close to $500,000 per year. Entering into an agreement with Okanogan County to house all of our inmates has a potential to save the county an additional $150,000 to $250,000 per year. There are challenges to be met with this decision, however we will work with our public defenders and the sheriff to work through these issues. Our biggest challenge is establishing a temporary holding facility in the East Wenatchee area to remove the issue of transport by our deputies.
Kavanaugh: First, because there has been very little information made public regarding the Douglas County Commissioners’ decision to contract solely with Okanogan County for jail services, it is very difficult to determine what has been the process of the decision made. Although a contract has reportedly been signed, commissioner statements have been made that the details for transporting will be worked out over the next three months, as the first transfer will be made on January 1, 2013. I wonder how a contract could have been signed that did not detail essential necessary elements of the agreement? While there may be occasions to house long term prisoners in Okanogan County to take advantage of lower bed rates, the decision of one size fits all appears to be shortsighted and questionable at best. The Department of Douglas County Law Enforcement, being the county sheriff and the county deputies, have spoken out regarding safety issues for themselves, the public, and potentially the prisoners, as well as the logistics and actual additional costs to implement the agreement as it has been described. This issue goes well beyond a budget consideration.