8-16-12 Candidates Forum, Mason County

The various candidates for County Commissioner and 35th Dist. Representative were all on hand Tuesday evening. The 2-hour Q&A session held at the Oakland Bay Jr. High School contained a few surprises and some not so much. e.g. Tim Sheldon announcing he and Roslynn Reed were 2 very different kind of Democrats.

The  candidates all appeared at the top of their game with the possible exception of Ross Gallagher, who seemed more befuddled than his opponent, Terry Jeffreys. Tim Sheldon looked tired and older, but seemed mentally alert and enjoying all the familiarity with the facts his many years in elective office had provided him.

The weather had been volatile this autumn day until an afternoon break caught the golds and reds in a splendid explosion of color on the Oakland Bay Middle School campus.

Maple Leaf Rag

Along the Huff ‘n Puff

Dancing in the Dark

Purple Prose

Dan Griffey v. Kathy Haigh; Drew MacEwen v. Lynda Ring-Erickson 10-16-12 forum (1/5)

35th District (Mason County, WA) candidates vie for spots I & II as State Representative. Kathy Haigh admitted opposing the super majority mandate, perennially popular with voters whenever it appears as an initiative, for tax increases She characterized the idea as a minority holding the majority hostage. Haigh was unable to draw the parallel to the 3/4ths super-majority of states necessary to amend/ratify changes to the U.S. Constitution. When reminded of the voter sentiment consistently supporting a super-majority mandate for net tax increases, Haigh conceded she’d abide by the will of the people for the 2-year minimum period mandated by law before legislators gut the law as they’ve done repeatedly, according to Haigh, with prior passed initiatives–most, according to Representative Haigh.

Dan Griffey repeatedly based his appeal to voters on a theme of getting government ‘off people’s back”. The stark difference between this fiscal conservative and his opponent (Kathy Haigh) was dramatic. Haigh concedes people interested in keeping taxes low will not be happy with her voting record. She invited the audience to believe her views were inconsequential since she only has ONE vote in the Legislature. Griffey rightly demurred that a Representative’s task was to form coalitions of like minded elected officials in order to serve their constituents while in office. The two disagreed on whether regulations had become onerous to small business or were vital to protecting the public.

Dan Griffey v. Kathy Haigh; Drew MacEwen v. Lynda Ring-Erickson 10-16-12 forum (2/5)

Denny Hamilton v. Randy Neatherlin 10-16-12 forum (3/5)

Denny Hamilton & Randy Neatherlin are vying for a spot as Mason County Commissioner, Dist. 1 (Belfair). Mr. Neatherlin has a history as an elected official, Mr.. Hamilton does not. Each appeared healthy during their presentation though Mr. Neatherlin has had some serious health issues recently.

Randy is currently a Port of Allyn Commissioner. Denny has had international experience (including @ the U.N.) as a facilitator charged with bringing various factions together before retiring to Mason County. Neatherlin has been a long time resident and appears to know where all the skeletons are buried in Mason County’s political closet. Neatherlin isn’t exactly an ‘outsider’, but is running as an independent. Hamilton is favored by area Democrats. Both seem approachable and sincere. Neatherlin is likely the more fiscally conservative. Hamilton sounds more environmentally conscientious. Mr. Hamilton has sterling people skills in a group, but Neatherlin is no slouch.

Roslynne Reed v. Tim Sheldon 10-16-12 forum (4/5)

Tim Sheldon is the incumbent Mason County Commissioner running for reelection. Roslynne Reed challenged Tim for this position 4 years ago. Despite having raised more campaign contributions than her corporate backed opponent, she lost. This year, she trailed Tim by only a couple of %’s in the primary election.

Roslynne is the local Democratic favorite. Though Sheldon is nominally also a ‘Democrat’, he is heavily opposed by many local Democrats. Sheldon’s legislative history is a fiscally conservative one, but also riddled with egregious strategic and tactical errors. Sheldon, along with many area businessmen and locally elected officials, supported Adage, a rapacious non-local corporate biomassacre applicant intent on ‘cleaning’ Mason County’s environment through a smokestack in the face of overwhelming citizen opposition by local residents. Unlike Ross Gallagher (his co-Commissioner at the time), Tim has never apologized for stonewalling his constituents and denying them even an advisory participatory role in a vital decision making process.

Roslynne Reed is the only candidate who expressed reservations during the pre-primary candidates forum when asked if they thought the County was doing a good job preserving area resources and the environment.

Unfortunately, no questions or discussion was given to the issue of corruption in County government–specifically the unaccountable delivery of public funds to private corporations (e.g. the EDC, i.e. Economid Development Counscil, a private company) ridden with cronies and conflicts of interest, large sums for ‘services’ as a way to evade an open transparent bidding process. The incestuous nature of this all but illegal dodge involves cooperative local elected public officials who’ve transferred tax dollars to this private company then ended up on its board of directors WHILE IN OFFICE, or soon thereafter.

Given his many years of experience at the heart of this corruption, Sheldon had the better command of the details of issues the County was facing. Reed continued to remark on his frequent absences from County Commissioner meetings due to time conflicts with his position as State Senator. Sheldon came off as experienced, competent, and almost relaxed. He arrived after the forum had begun. Reed appeared sincere and eager to bring a change to County government.

Tim Sheldon has a long track record as a fiscal, if somewhat self serving, conservative. Roslynne is more likely to take on programs without a sober look at the consequences to tax payers. The lion’s share of Tim’s campaign donations come from corporate interests while Roslynne’s largely come from individual voters.

Ross Gallagher vs. Terri Jeffreys 10-16-12 (5/5)

Ross Gallagher & Terri Jeffreys are candidates vying for the District 3 slot for Mason County Commissioner. This clip captured their respective presentations in Shelton, WA. at the candidates forum on 8-16-12. Ross Gallagher has held prior elective office. Jeffreys has not. Ross was voted out of his previous position as County Commissioner for failing to protect the community from the predations of an environmentally hazardous/hostile industry. He was admitted to the hospital for heart problems during his previous failed campaign to be re-elected. Jeffreys sounded more mentally alert, but came across as arrogant and ill informed when interviewed.

Jeffreys was an intern and reported protege’ of Tim Sheldon. She supported Adage while Chair of the local Chamber of Commerce. She revealed a dangerous lack of familiarity with critical facts when she claimed the Dioxin in Oakland Bay was being cleaned up.

Gallagher argued, given his experience as an elected official, he was the better qualified since Jeffreys has never held elective office. But Jeffreys’ mental acuity and general health appeared better. Intimations of Gallagher’s part involving lost lawsuits against the county stemming from his term in office were contested by him.

Gallagher’s apparent befuddlement at times during the forum invited questions regarding how fully he has recovered from his previous medical emergency or if he can complete a full term if elected. Ross is the local Democratic favorite to win the position he seeks.

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