Three candidates are on the Aug. 4 primary ballot for election to the Skagit County Board of County Commissioners, District 1: the incumbent, Ron Wesen; John Archibald, a business owner and former Anacortes City Council member; and Mark Lundsten, a member of the Skagit County Planning Commission. The two top finishers in the primary will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
County commissioners are elected to four-year terms.
State law empowers county commissioners to budget and appropriate funds for all county activities; build and maintain county roads; make and enforce civil and criminal resolutions and ordinances not in conflict with state law; support and implement state and federal mandates; oversee all appointed county agencies; construct and maintain public buildings; fix the tax levies for the county and its subordinate jurisdictions; authorize payments owed by the county and audit all officers having control of county funds; manage county property and county funds; and prosecute and defend all actions for and against the county.
The Anacortes American asked the candidates to answer the following questions. Archibald did not respond.
Name: Ron Wesen
Party preference: GOP
Occupation: Skagit County commissioner, District 1
Education: B.S. in Dairy Science, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Elected offices held: Skagit County commissioner; commissioner, Skagit County Drainage and Irrigation District 16; secretary/treasurer, Washington State Dairy Federation; president, Skagit County Farm Bureau; president, Skagit County Dairy Federation.
Community involvement: Community Action of Skagit County Board, Skagit Gleaners Board, Skagit County Pioneer Association Board, Ag Fish Tribal Summit, Skagit Ag Leaders Breakfast.
Campaign website: www.ronwesen.com
Why are you running for office?: I am running for re-election because I understand the challenges that we are facing and am willing to work to address them, and because my constituents have encouraged me to do so. My family’s history runs back four generations farming this valley through good times and hard times. We’ve worked with our neighbors to make Skagit a better place for future generations by supporting the schools and local business community. I understand how to work diligently toward goals and how to make hard decisions. I want my family to be here at least another four generations with the same opportunities open to them.
My priority is to keep Skagit County a safe, attractive and affordable community with good jobs, good schools and a healthy environment that maintain our community’s heritage and natural beauty. We must have sensible spending by the county. We have to manage change in the community in ways that retain local jobs and strengthen our existing businesses and industries by supporting development that provides affordable options for new homes and businesses while protecting our natural resource industries.
We are a strong community that can pull together and work toward these common goals.
What are the five biggest issues facing the candidate who is elected to this position?: Revenue shortfalls at all levels of our community will take their toll. Skagit County’s work on mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, homelessness and workforce housing will be stressed. Skagit County must help our community to safely open our businesses for local jobs and our schools for the education of our next generation. We must work together as a community to move forward.
Our county’s population will continue to grow. One of the goals of the Growth Management Act is for 80% of the growth to take place in towns, cities and their urban growth areas. Services are available in those areas and it will help maintain our open spaces in our county.
How will you address them?: I will continue to monitor all departments and expenses to ensure we are spending taxpayer dollars wisely. Like you, Skagit County must prioritize funding for the well-being of our community. For example, as commissioner I support funding the embedded social worker with Mount Vernon, and more. I support Skagit County staff in providing local document fees to Anacortes Family Center, Community Action of Skagit County, Housing Authority, Northwest Youth Services, and YMCA-Oasis teen shelter. We applied economic development funds of $450,000 for impact and utilities fees for affordable housing projects. I will continue to support these type of projects in the future.
What sets you apart from your opponents?: My experience in today’s private business, my practical hands-on experience in local government and my proven track record with a wide-variety of organizational partnerships for the betterment of our local economy and environment. I have the knowledge and skill sets to ask the right questions to learn how problems can be solved and the expertise to assist in needed solutions. We must learn from other counties across the state and country if we are going to improve. I ask why things are done and what we are going to do to improve.
How are you campaigning and engaging with voters during the pandemic?: I have begun posting and utilizing campaign signs across the district for high visibility. My Facebook and web pages are dynamic to address current issues between now and the election. My cell number, 360-630-0881, is posted and readily accessible to constituents; I routinely talk with voters about issues they wish to discuss. I will continue to serve the public in a direct and forthright manner as demonstrated since initially elected.