Tiffany Gering, a candidate for county commissioner, is concerned about the number of lawsuits that Chelan County is facing.
Gering is running for Chelan County Commissioner in District 3 against fellow Republican Dale England. England won the primary with 41.6% of the vote and Gering came in second with 29.9%. Only District 3 voters in Chelan, Manson, Entiat and Olds Station participated in the primary. The general election on Nov. 3 will include the entire county.
Since starting her run for commissioner, Gering said she has met with representatives from Mission Ridge, Wheeler Ridge, the Short-Term Rental Alliance of Chelan County (STRACC) and Residents United for Neighborhoods (RUN).
Chelan County is facing a lawsuit from Wheeler Ridge because the county determined that an orchard the company is building would have environmental impacts and the company would need to mitigate. Mission Ridge filed an $8 million claim against the county over a similar situation.
STRACC and RUN are fighting the county over potential regulations on short-term rentals in Chelan County and both have threatened to sue. STRACC is against any new regulations and RUN supports certain regulations.
“So I really think that there is common ground and if we could just get all of the people to the table that we could avoid costly lawsuits,” Gering said. “So getting in and figuring out why this continues to happen over and over again is a huge priority of mine.”
In regards to Mission Ridge and Wheeler Ridge, Gering said she thinks the problem is inconsistency with the county’s Community Development Department. The department seems to get a new director every other year or so, which leads to a lot of confusion and contradictory statements.
“I mean the fact that we’ve been through seven directors in the last nine or 10 years, you know — just the cost of training and turnover, we probably could have been (more) competitive in pay,” she said.
Gering also hopes the county can avoid a lawsuit in regards to short-term rental regulations. She is pro short-term rentals and believes people’s property rights should be protected, but the county should be working harder to enforce existing regulations.
She does think that the idea of requiring short-term rentals to be owner-occupied in residential areas, a main platform for RUN, is a bit impractical.
“I’m going to the ocean with my family next year and I would never rent a place that had the owner there,” Gering said. “Not because our family wants to throw big parties. It just changes the dynamic.”
Gering said she also wants to focus on mental health if voted to the commission. She knows the county will need to rebuild the Chelan County Regional Justice Center and is wondering about the possibility of turning the existing jail into a mental health center. She does not know how the county would find funding for such a project that could cost millions of dollars.
“I think the majority of people, whether you’re Democrat or Republican, believe that when you have exhausted all options and you’re at your wits end, you should get some help,” Gering said. “We’re here and we should be helping our neighbors.”
Gering doesn’t describe herself as a politician. She’s running for office, she said, because she wants to create a county that her daughters would be willing to move back to someday.
“So the politician side of things, it just seems like a dirty word to me,” Gering said. “I know that comes with the territory, but it is definitely not why I put my hat in the ring.”