To view previous endorsements online go to Endorsements
While the weather may be cooling off, political races are heating up. President Obama and Mitt Romney have been pummeling away on the national scene. In the state, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and Bill Finkbeiner have launched some of the most vicious verbal assaults we have ever seen in a Union-Bulletin Editorial Board meeting.
Locally, no race is as hot as the Walla Walla County Board of Commissioners, District 2, contest between incumbent Perry Dozier and Chris Blackman.
Dozier received about 53 percent of the vote in the primary with Blackman finishing at about 30 percent. Perhaps because she knows it is difficult to unseat an incumbent and because she trailed Dozier significantly in the primary, Blackman has taken off the gloves and has come out swinging.
She criticizes the decision to not dip heavily into the county reserve funds during the economic downturn. She rails against what she sees as Dozier working only part time as a commissioner. She says she would resign her current job to be a full-time commissioner. She hints at the possible conflict of interest if Dozier participates in land-use issues, yet downplays her potential conflict of interest of having her husband in the Sheriff’s Department.
While she is careful to couch her comments about tapping the reserve fund by saying she would want public agreement on the priorities, she makes it clear she prefers using the reserve fund rather than furloughs and she is willing to see the fund go from 25 percent to 10 percent. She conceded that could create worse problems in the event of an emergency.
Dozier disputes Blackman’s assertions and points out her clear lack of understanding of the budget and budgeting process.
There’s not much new in Blackman’s agenda. She calls for better communication and transparency with the age-old idea of holding commission meetings at different times and in different locations. She touts her ability to improve relations between commissioners, county departments and city officials and says she would assure the county has a vision.
We see Dozier with a significant edge in this race. His and the other commissioners’ insistence on maintaining a healthy reserve fund is one reason the county isn’t in as dire of straits as some other counties and local governments. His degree in economics and his familiarity with land-use issues are valuable assets.
Dozier and the other commissioners need to step up to the plate and become more involved in the Rural Library District situation. Officially, there is little commissiers can do, but it can offer to help mediate the dispute.
The criticism of Dozier not being a full-time commissioner is misleading and unfair. He attends the commission meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays. In addition there are other meetings — some of them in the evening — that he attends as the commission’s representative. He meets with constituents or takes phone calls at all hours. Taxpayers are not being cheated in the hours he works or in his availability.
Blackman wants to do the job. Dozier has been doing it and deserves to continue.