Elections

Board of county commissioners, district 3

Patrick Beehler (Republican)

Age: 64

Occupation: director of survey for the Olympia office of WHPacific Inc., a consulting firm.

Education: Beehler took courses in mathematics and science at American River College in Sacramento, Calif. He served as an adjunct instructor teaching surveying in the engineering department at Saint Martin’s University from 1982 to 1992.

Appointed or elected government experience: Thurston County Historic Commission for ten years, appointed.

Family: Wife, Patti; one daughter, Jennifer, 39; two grandchildren.

Major endorsements: Secretary of State Sam Reed, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna and Diane Oberquell, a former county commissioner.

Contact information: 360-339-7923, pat@patbeehler.com, www.patbeehler.com, 855 Trosper Road S.W. 108-399, Tumwater, WA 98512.

In light of this year’s controversy between the county commissioners and sheriff, how much authority do commissioners have to direct independently elected Thurston County officials on how to spend the money that the commissioners budget for their departments each year?

The commissioners in their legislative role are responsible for setting the budgets for the other elected officials. Once the budgets are approved, it is the responsibility of the independently elected officials in their executive role to determine how to use the budgeted amounts in the operation of their department of function.

Thurston County lost about 10 percent of its work force and cut numerous programs and services this year to deal with its budget crisis. Tough budget choices are likely as the county looks to the new year. Do you favor further cuts to programs and services or increased taxes or fees to close a potential shortfall?

If the county’s revenues continue to stagnate, there may have to be further cuts to programs and services. The county should work with the Thurston County Economic Development Council to assist in the creation of new jobs in the private sector that will provide an increase in county revenues without raising taxes. The remedies for the budget shortfall may be accomplished by implementing the recommendations of the budget task force. Raising tax rates is not the answer to stimulate the economy and increase county revenue.

County commissioners adopted an interim ordinance to protect more of the county’s native prairie and oak woodlands. The ordinance imposes more regulation on private property. Do you support the ordinance becoming permanent? Why or why not?

I do not support the use of interim ordinances and moratoriums to circumvent the orderly revision of county land use policies. The native prairie and oak woodland ordinance that was just passed tramples on private property rights and violates due process. All such land use decisions need to follow the proper procedures and go through the comprehensive plan amendment process to insure that all stakeholders are involved.

As of Aug. 31, Beehler had raised $34,544.41 in cash and in-kind contributions and spent $25,077, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission records. He has $9,462.47 in hand and listed $2,113.80 for a balance of $7,353,62.

Top five donors:

1. Affordable Housing Council, political action committee of Olympia Master Builders, a trade association representing developers, $3,500.

2. Stormans Inc., owners of Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway, $1,000

2. Thurston County Realtors Association, $1,000

2. Michael Beehler, his brother and South Puget Sound Community College administrator, $1,000

3. Seven individuals or entities contributed $500.

Karen Valenzuela

Democrat; Incumbent

Age: 60

Occupation: Thurston County commissioner

Education: bachelor’s degree, anthropology, University of California at Berkeley, 1975; master’s degree, public administration, University of Washington, 1980.

Appointed or elected government experience: Tumwater Planning Commission, 1996 to 1999, appointed; Tumwater City Council, 2000 to 2009, elected; Thurston County commissioner, 2009, appointed.

Family: Two daughters, Cynthia, 39, and Kimberly, 38; three grandchildren.

Major endorsements: Thurston County Democrats, Washington Conservation Voters, Lacey Professional Firefighters Local 2903.

Contact: 360-459-4024, www.karenvalenzuela.com, 120 State Ave NE, #135, Olympia 98501

In light of this year’s controversy between the county commissioners and sheriff, how much authority do commissioners have to direct independently elected Thurston County officials on how to spend the money that the commissioners budget for their departments each year?

County commissioners, as the legislative body of the county, have final budget approval authority over every elected official’s budget, setting the total amount each has in their budget. How each elected official’s budget is built is traditionally a negotiated matter between commissioners, budget staff and the officials, with commissioners setting overall policy and principles which guide the process. With respect to the sheriff’s office in particular, commissioners could, for example, set a manager-to-line-staff ratio as a basis for sheriff’s office staffing; or develop a policy on years-of-useful-life for the sheriff’s fleet of vehicles as a basis for reducing the cost of vehicle purchases. I suspect the level of detail commissioners will involve ourselves in this year as we build the county’s budget will exceed past years, as we are committed to avoiding any further layoffs of county staff in the 2010 budget, and two of the three of us will be doing the county budget for the first time.

Thurston County lost about 10 percent of its work force and cut numerous programs and services this year to deal with its budget crisis. Tough budget choices are likely as the county looks to the new year. Do you favor further cuts to programs and services or increased taxes or fees to close a potential shortfall?

Because of the tough rebalancing of our 2009 budget that commissioners did in April of this year, we are actually in a stronger position as we head into the 2010 budget. Based on cost and revenue projections at this point, we believe further staff layoffs will not be necessary, though we are continuing to scrutinize some programs for possible elimination or even combining with neighboring jurisdictions as we continue through the annual budget process.

County commissioners adopted an interim ordinance to protect more of the county’s native prairie and oak woodlands. The ordinance imposes more regulation on private property. Do you support the ordinance becoming permanent? Why or why not?

I do support our prairie protection ordinance becoming permanent, though we are continuing conversations with some farmers and other land owners concerned about potential effects of some of its provisions. The public hearing on the ordinance told us many people don’t actually understand the ordinance, so the staff is developing additional materials to better inform people about its major provisions. The ordinance is an important tool in preserving and protecting the last remaining 3 percent of Thurston County’s prairies, an important element of our cultural heritage and environment.

As of Aug. 31, Valenzuela had raised $23,447.66 in cash and in-kind contributions and spent $14,339.67, according to PDC records. She has no liabilities and $9,107.99 on hand.

Top five donors:

1. Thurston County Democrats, $7,000

2. Mohammad and Gail Sheikhizadeh, $1,000. Gail has been involved in efforts to establish a no-shooting zone in her neighborhood on the western shore of Eld Inlet, citing safety and quality-of-life concerns stemming from duck hunting during the winter. Commissioners held a public hearing on the proposal over the summer but no action has been taken.

2. Thurston Conservation Voters, $1,000, a chapter of a statewide group that works to support and elect environmentally responsible candidates for public office

2. Diane Parish, a close friend and investment manager in Sausalito, Calif., $1,000

3. Sheet Metal Workers Local 66, $500

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