Letters to the Editor: Why Commentary on Commissioner Vacancy Was Wrong

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I disagree with the recent columns suggesting that Commissioner Sean Swope and Commissioner Lindsey Pollock should install Lee Grose to the vacant commissioner position.

While Mr. Grose is a quality man with knowledge of the county operations from his service nearly a decade ago, he has made it clear he is not going to serve beyond 2022. We don’t need a year and a half of tentative, temporary leadership of our county. This time of opportunity for the county shouldn’t be governed by those who know that the “real team” won’t be assembled until 2023.

As one who participated in the selection process of the nominees, I know there is a reason why Kevin Emerson was the man who most precinct officers selected to fill the vacancy.

The Chronicle’s publisher Chad Taylor overlooked several important facts when urging the commissioners to ignore the top pick and to select a temporary commissioner.

First is that Emerson has a proven track record of principled public service.

When Water-Sewer District 2 was mismanaged and nearly bankrupted, Kevin stepped up to serve as a commissioner. He and the other commissioners made a series of very difficult decisions to protect the interests of ratepayers in the district. Commissioner Emerson and the team had to change staffing, structure budgets to pay back a couple hundred thousand dollars, navigate the minefield of legal issues all while keeping services intact and rates affordable. This was the quality I found most impressive about Kevin.

Second, Taylor lays unfair accusations on Kevin. To suggest that Kevin — whose livelihood has come from the building industry — is opposed to development is flat unbelievable. When I researched the issue long before Taylor’s attempt to spike the precinct officers’ favored candidate, Emerson’s integrity shines through.

Kevin and the unanimous board of commissioners from district two made decisions to prevent their ratepayers from subsidizing developers and users in district 5. The leadership team not only used good judgment for those they served, but they followed the advice of counsel and were ultimately affirmed by the court.

I want my county commissioner to have the kind of integrity to look after my interests as a constituent, even if it means taking a stand against other jurisdictions, the state or federal government when they overstep their bounds.

Emerson has a long career in housing and infrastructure. Kevin has taken a failing public entity to surplus and opportunity. Kevin has stepped in as a conciliatory problem solver in the conflicted Onalaska fire district. Kevin has humility, integrity and a commitment to public policy principles which will serve us all well.

And I want my county leadership team to be assembled now, not in about a year and a half.

 

Jami Lund

Centralia

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