An individual's right to own and develop property is a basic and natural right.
During my eight years as a Grays Harbor County Commissioner, I have written and passed policy changes that allowed individuals the ability to construct an accessory building up to 800 square feet without a permit, fee, inspection, or permission. I proposed and passed an agriculture building exemption, exempted farm pads for farmers, and sponsored the county’s Community Development department through the LEAN Academy.
In 2015, following severe flooding, I proposed and passed a fee waiver for victims associated with the destruction of property and buildings. I was also successful at waiving permit fees for disaster victims in Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties as a committee member for the Olympic Regional Clean Air Agency (ORCAA).
I have voted against the county's use of eminent domain. I have also been a strong advocate of access to our county, state, and federal public lands. I currently serve on the Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) for the Federal Forest Service. In 2019, the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights presented me with the Local Official of the Year award.
As a State Senator I will continue to advocate for access to public lands and protect your property rights.
“The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”
The above quote is from the Open Public Meetings Act (RCW 42.30.010). It is one of my favorite statements that comes to mind when considering government transparency.
As a Commissioner, I proposed and now sit on the counties hiring committee, which was created to prevent nepotism and favoritism. I also put together a Media Q&A session after every county board meeting. This was done so that the public and media could ask the Commissioners more specific questions regarding their votes and get their statements on record.
Another example of transparency was when a local tribal government briefly shut down Lake Quinault due to alleged poor water quality. In discussions with staff, I was made aware that the county held the water quality results showing the lake was clean and posed no public safety risks. I then released those results to the public because transparency is paramount for public trust.
I am a former union member and former union steward for AFSCME. As a County Commissioner, I proposed open public union negotiations because 75% of the county’s general fund budget is salaries and benefits. These contracts are currently negotiated behind closed doors and I believe the public has a right to see how their elected officials are negotiating with their tax dollars. Open public negotiations are common practice in Idaho and Oregon.
Transparency in government is something that I fully support and will continue to uphold as a State Senator.
Every year, most counties, cities, and other jurisdictions with taxing authority raise property taxes. I have voted against raising taxes every year that I have been in office.
I was successful at eliminating or reducing permit fees for certain outbuildings. I was able to repeal Grays Harbor County’s admission tax that would have affected local events. The Board of County Commissioners absorbed the Board of Equalization (used for property value appeals) saving a substantial amount of money for our office.
In an exercise of principle, I proposed that the county send the State of Washington a bill for some of our unfunded mandates. The bill was sent, and as expected, the county was not reimbursed. Unfunded mandates are something that I intend to address as a State Senator.
I have voted many times against contracts, expenditures, programs, projects, and buildings that I did not think the county could afford nor should be involved in. I will continue to use such a process at the state level. When writing or giving my consideration for any senate bills, I will ask some basic and fundamental questions. Is this constitutional? Should the government be involved in this? Can the state afford it? Are citizens better served with this at the local level? Is it a funded mandate?