Democrats Wolfe, Rogers disagree on ‘critical areas’ in Position 1 race

POSITION 1: Incumbent says it follows best science; opponent says it hurts families

ckrotzer@theolympian.comOctober 20, 2012 

Thursday County Commissioner Cathy Wolfe is fighting to serve a fourth consecutive term, taking on Olympia City Council member Karen Rogers in the Position 1 race next month.

The two candidates, who both identify as Democrats, won the August primary with Wolfe garnering 32.62 percent of votes and Rogers 30.01 percent.

Gearing up for the final weeks of campaigning, Rogers said she hopes to provide a voice for those she says are not being heard.

“There are people feeling they are being underrepresented and underserved – shut out,” Rogers said.

Identifying herself as a “JFK Democrat,” the candidate did not receive an endorsement from the Thurston County Democrats, who instead endorsed Wolfe. Rogers was appointed to the City Council in 2010 and has a degree in wetland ecology and political science.

“When I make my decisions, I am asking the questions of how is this going to affect everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful?” Rogers said. “To me, that is the hallmark of a Democrat.”

If elected, Rogers hopes to put her council experience and environmental knowledge to work, addressing the numerous problems she sees with the recently approved Critical Areas Ordinance.

“There are already problems with it,” Rogers said. “People don’t feel safe.”

Rogers said members of the community are actively hunting pocket gophers in efforts to not have their property marked as habitat if the animal is listed as an endangered species. Rogers said farmers are also having difficulty handling the updated ordinance’s wetland buffer zones.

“Did they take into account economic impacts?” Rogers said. “That is what is going to drive people – if they lose their farms or can’t pay their mortgage or kids’ college tuition; we don’t have them respect the law.”

Wolfe is proud of the work county staff put into the long overdue, state-required ordinance.

“We used the best available science and did the best decision based on science,” Wolfe said. “However, I also will tell you we are very open to tweaking it.”

Wolfe said an issue concerning agriculture was already addressed and updated in the CAO since it was approved by the commission.

“Anything over the next year we feel is fixable, we will fix,” Wolfe said. “At this point, we made the best decision we could according to science.”

If elected for a fourth term, Wolfe said she would look forward to continuing work on the Accountability and Restitution Center, a new county jail that is set to be inhabited at the start of next year.

“It’s the best thing we’ve ever done,” Wolfe said. “The jail had to be replaced for the sake of the jail alone … this will keep as many people out of that jail as possible with programs and problem-solving courts.”

Wolfe is also looking forward to continuing work on the Regional Health Improvement Collaborative, through which counties are preparing for 2014 health care changes.

She said she would also strive to continue making Thurston County sustainable through the tough economic times.

“I’m proud of my record, really proud,” Wolfe said. “I think this county is on a very sustainable path with the budget, as long as we can hold the line.”

Rogers claims the county’s budget is not sustainable and that Thurston County has a reputation of not being business-friendly.

“A lot of businesses aren’t going out of business – they are moving out,” Rogers said. “The easy answer for government may be to raise taxes; the harder thing to do, and more sustainable thing to do, is just make sure you are creating a better economic climate.”

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476

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