County officials live in the cities

April 14th, 2009 by Ken

Thurston County Commissioners last evening got an ear full  from people who aren’t happy with the budget cuts which they are forced to make.  Most of  those speaking last evening were voicing support for their special interests.

However, one woman asked a compelling question.  Since all of the county commissioners live within the city limits, how can they possibly understand the problems of the rural areas?   She was speaking specifically about law enforcement.   But the question is a good one.

Our county commissioners are charged with funding police services in the rural areas of our county.  Our county commissioners are charged with maintaining the roads in our rural areas.  Our county commissioners are charged with providing parks in the rural areas – – yet most, if not all of them, live in the cities.

Sandra Romero lives in Lacey, Karen Valenzuela lives in Tumwater (where she served on the Tumwater City Council) and I think Cathy Wolfe lives in Olympia.

They are doing nothing illegal.  County commissioners represent all of the people in the county, including those living in the cities, but the question is still a good one.   How can they meet the needs of the residents of rural Thurston County, when they don’t live in the rural areas?

How do they know what it feels like to be a victim of a crime and wait hours for someone to respond?   How do they know what it’s like to drive on a road that hasn’t been overlayed in decades?  How do they know what open space needs to be saved and what can be used for development?

The answer is, they depend on others to tell them.  But that doesn’t make it right.

Time was, when most of our county commissioners were small farmers or rural business owners.  They understood the problems of the rural area because they lived in the rural areas.

The last county commissioner we had that lived outside of the city boundaries was Diane Oberquell, and she made certain that county rules and regulations were different for rural residents.

What do we do about the problem?   The answer is simple.  We need to elect more people from the rural areas to the county commission.   We can’t just continue to recycle old politicans like Wolfe, Romero and now Valenzuela.

Yelm, Rainier, Grand Mound, Rochester, all have quality people who would make good county commissioners.  If you want the county commission to represent the rural area, then you have to get behind a rural resident and elected her to office.   It’s that simple.

Posted in Government, Informational, The Real News


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