Get to know your candidate

Editor’s note: The Douglas County Empire Press posed questions to candidates in contested races in Douglas County that will be decided in the Nov. 4 general election.

Candidates for U.S. Representatives in Congressional Districts 4 and 8, Douglas County Clerk, Douglas County Auditor and Douglas County PUD Commissioner Position 2 address issues the Empire Press believes to be of importance to our readers.

Each candidate’s response, with a 300-word limit, is in his or her own words.

 

4TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

 

Clint Didier

Clint Didier

(Republican)

You and your opponent appear to have different positions on two critical issues even though you are both Republicans. The first is your position on a package of bills for immigration reform and the second is whether you have signed a pledge to never vote for a tax increase that would increase government spending. Please clarify your position on each of these two issues and how it is different from what you believe to be your opponent’s position.

We are a nation of immigrants. The debate and problems we have today are not about legal immigration, but illegal immigration. This debate is also a matter of national security. We must secure our borders first and foremost — before any other discussions. We are a nation of laws. Therefore, we first need to enforce our existing immigration laws. Washington’s farmers have a need for seasonal agriculture workers. However, any guest worker program should never provide amnesty of illegal aliens or a fraudulent cover for those seeking to flout our immigration laws. I’m concerned that my opponent, the establishment candidate, will be a rubber-stamp for the pro-cheap labor, pro-amnesty corporations and big business interests that are funding his campaign. I have signed a written pledge that I will oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes, or any budget — regardless of party — that increases the scope and size of government, so much as a dollar. Nor will I vote to raise the debt ceiling. I don’t believe that my moderate opponent will make that kind of commitment. And, I will work with other real conservatives to find ways to begin slashing the runaway government. I also will make every effort to decrease the regulatory burden on business.

You and your opponent have both said you want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Are you still demanding repeal and if so, what would you propose, if anything, to replace the Act?

My opponent has said that he wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with another government plan. In other words, replace one socialist program for another. I will work to repeal Obamacare and leave health care decisions to people and to the states. Only free-market policies that increase competition and individual choice will achieve greater efficiency and affordability for all Americans. Count on Clint Didier to fight for the private sector and free-market solutions that increase choice and accessibility.

 

Meet the Candidate

Age: 55

City: Eltopia

Work history: National Football League player from 1981 to 1989; farmer and rancher — owner of Back Forty Farms and Didier Excavation, LLC.

Education: Bachelor of science degree in political science from Portland State University.

Personal: Married to Kristi for over 30 years; four children, two grandchildren; Connell High School football coach — two-time state champs; charity tournament director of Fighting Children’s Cancer from 2004 to 2010; director of the Carson Kolzig Foundation; member of the National Rifle Association and Washington State Farm Bureau.

 

Dan Newhouse

Dan Newhouse

(Republican)

You and your opponent appear to have different positions on two critical issues even though you are both Republicans. The first is your position on a package of bills for immigration reform and the second is whether you have signed a pledge to never vote for a tax increase that would increase government spending. Please clarify your position on each of these two issues and how it is different from what you believe to be your opponent’s position.

I do support immigration reform and I have signed a pledge not to raise taxes.

On immigration: Our current immigration and border security policies aren’t working. They aren’t working to prevent violent drug offenders from crossing our borders. They aren’t working for aspiring Americans who are denied legal pathways to add their hard work and talents to building the American dream. And they aren’t working for employers seeking temporary foreign workers to fill jobs left unfilled by the domestic workforce. It’s time to work on reforms that will secure our borders, stem the tide of illegal immigration and also fix our guest worker program so that our agricultural economy does not suffer from labor shortages.

For undocumented workers already here, we need a long-term solution, not blanket amnesty. I would support a plan to allow undocumented workers with no serious criminal records to apply for legal status, learn English, pay taxes and a penalty and then go to the back of the line and work toward citizenship.

On taxes: Americans already send enough money to the federal government. To balance the budget, we need to rein in overspending. We don’t need to raise taxes.

You and your opponent have both said you want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Are you still demanding repeal and if so, what would you propose, if anything, to replace the Act?

Yes, I would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan that will actually reduce costs, increase access to care and improve overall care.

I do want to make sure people with pre-existing medical conditions can still receive coverage. There is already legislation introduced by Republicans in Congress that would bring down premiums, provide portability, allow for pre-existing conditions and enact purchasing pools for small business to drive down costs. These are the kinds of solutions I would look to support in Congress.

 

Meet the Candidate

Age: 58

City: Sunnyside

Work history: Farmer; 15th District state legislator from 2003-2009; director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture from 2009-2013.

Education: Bachelor of science degree in agricultural economics from Washington State University and a graduate of the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Leadership Program.

Personal: A conservative farmer, businessman and state legislator, Dan Newhouse has a track record of getting things done. Dan was elected four times to the Washington State House of Representatives and served from 2003 to 2009. In the Legislature, he was known as a pro-jobs conservative problem solver. Recognized by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Association of Washington Business for his commitment to pro-growth policies, Dan will bring the same set of values with him to Congress. From 2009 to 2013, Dan served as director of Washington State’s Department of Agriculture, helping promote the state’s abundant agricultural resources and encouraging the next generation of family farms. Dan and his wife Carol have two adult children, Jensena and Devon and Devon’s wife Halley. The Newhouse family operates a 600-acre farm near Sunnyside, where they grow hops, tree fruit, grapes and alfalfa.

 

8TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

 

Dave Reichert

Dave Reichert

(Republican)

Please describe which two issues you believe are the most important differences between you and your opponent for the voters residing in Douglas County, primarily the City of East Wenatchee?

Tax Reform: I consistently hear from small business owners throughout the district that the tax code is stifling their growth. I am working with my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee to make the outdated tax code simpler, easier and more workable for businesses and individuals. By doing this, we can create more jobs and families can keep more of their hard earned money.

Expanding Trade and Washington State Global Competitiveness: For many in Washington state, jobs and trade go hand-in-hand, whether tending an orchard, running a small business or engaging at the highest levels of high tech. So I’ve worked with Democrats and Republicans to pass Free Trade Agreements and open new markets. That’s good for everyone. Right here in Douglas County, there are many opportunities to expand our reach abroad. As a leader of the South Korean Free Trade Agreement, a member of the President’s Export Council and a senior member of the Trade Subcommittee, I believe that we must continue to pass Free Trade Agreements and increase our ability to sell American goods around the world.

What do you believe are the most important differences between you and your opponent on the Affordable Care Act? Would you demand repeal, and if so, what would you propose, if anything, to replace the act?

The President’s health care law has resulted in nothing but a string of broken promises to the American people. Instead of working in a bipartisan way to create a plan that would protect our seniors, veterans and families, the Affordable Care Act was passed into law without input from the whole Congress.

Every single American should have access to affordable, high-quality health care. The government health care overhaul has raised costs and reduced choices and benefits. I am working with my House colleagues to reduce unnecessary burdens that have been placed on Americans so that all can access quality, affordable health care.

 

Meet the Candidate

Age: 64

City: Auburn

Work history: Elected Experience — U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 to present; King County sheriff from 1998 to 2005 (in 1998, became King County’s first elected sheriff in 30 years); served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1971 to 1976; joined the King County Sheriff’s Office in 1972.

Education: Associate of arts degree from Concordia Lutheran College.

Personal: Served on King County’s Domestic Violence Council, board of directors for Special Olympics of Washington, co-chair of the King County Methamphetamine Coalition, former member of the King County Committee to End Homelessness, co-founder of the King County Sheriff’s Police Activities League, youth coach and counselor, two-time Washington Medal of Valor Recipient, named National Sheriff of the Year.

 

Jason Ritchie

Jason Ritchie

(Democratic)

Please describe which two issues you believe are the most important differences between you and your opponent for the voters residing in Douglas County, primarily the City of East Wenatchee?

Rep. Reichert hasn’t acted to bring any jobs or development to East Wenatchee. The community needs new infrastructure, including new schools. I’ll fight for new federal funding to get those new schools built. Immigration reform is still awaiting action in the House of Representatives. Rep. Reichert won’t act. I will demand an up or down vote and I’ll co-sponsor comprehensive immigration reform.

What do you believe are the most important differences between you and your opponent on the Affordable Care Act? Would you demand repeal, and if so, what would you propose, if anything, to replace the act?

I support the Affordable Care Act. It’s a step in the right direction and has already helped thousands of residents in the 8th District to get health insurance. I’ll fight to make sure the ACA is covering those in need while operating within its budget. Rep. Reichert voted to shut down the government, wasting $24 billion in taxpayers’ hard-earned money. He offers no alternative to the ACA, only a shutdown.

 

Meet the Candidate

Age: 43

City: Issaquah

Work history: Founded and operate my own small business providing accessible construction; former community college professor.

Education: Master’s degree in history from Eastern Michigan, bachelor of science degree in political science and history from the University of Michigan.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY AUDITOR

 

Greg Wright

Greg Wright

(Republican)

The County Auditor is responsible for overseeing many aspects of county business, including auditing of county expenditures, records, licensing, elections and more. What skills, experience and training do you have that qualify you for managing a department such as this one?

I have management experience from three unique perspectives. Unlike many career politicians, I have worked in the private sector, helping to build and steer successful companies. I’ve also worked with and held leadership and management roles in not-for-profit corporations with multi-million dollar budgets, such as serving as the president of Washington Realtors and as economic chair for the National Association of Realtors. Finally, I’ve helped steer and manage nonprofit charities, such as in my position as president of the Washington Coalition of Crime Victim Advocates and serving on my church board. This cumulative experience gives me a fresh, diverse perspective on the needs of our county. I will work to see that county government works for the people — not just more efficiently, but more effectively.

Describe your style of working with and managing office staff.

The best leadership is by example. Growing up in a family business, I learned customers are earned and service comes first. I believe in hiring and retaining qualified, professional, staff members that understand the public is their boss. I believe — just like a jug of milk — elected officials should have expiration dates. The public is better served by community members stepping up, making a difference and making room for others with new ideas, than by the service of career politicians that get further and further away from living their lives as private citizens.

 

Meet the Candidate

 Age: 45

City: East Wenatchee

Work history: I am currently a managing broker at Nick McLean Real Estate Group, with 26 years in real estate sales and management.

Education: Studied political science and economics at the University of Washington.

Personal: My wife Christina-Marie and I have seven children — three still at home — including our two youngest children, who joined
our family through foster care adoption. We are expecting our first grandchild this fall. I am the drummer for the classic rock band Waterdog and for the worship team at Wenatchee Praise Center, where our family attends.

 

Thad Duvall

Thad Duvall

(Democrat)

The County Auditor is responsible for overseeing many aspects of county business, including auditing of county expenditures, records, licensing, elections and more. What skills, experience and training do you have that qualify you for managing a department such as this one?

During my 17 years as Douglas County auditor, I have taken numerous management courses, resulting in the designation of Certified Public Official (CPO). I have also taken courses from the Election Center through Auburn University, achieving the national designation of Certified Election and Registration Administrator (CERA). This training has given me the ability to administer an office that has:

  • conducted more than 60 elections accurately expressing the will of Douglas County voters
  • provided excellent customer service in Licensing and Recording with quick turnaround for license tabs and plates, and recorded documents now available online free to the public
  • accurate budgeting, payroll and accounts payable

I have received the following awards in recognition of my skills, experience and training:

  • Auditor of the Year, awarded by Secretary of State Sam Reed
  • Voter Outreach Award, also from Secretary of State Sam Reed
  • Washington State Association of County Auditors President’s Award, from Kim Wyman, currently Secretary of State

Describe your style of working with and managing office staff.

As an administrator, I work hard to ensure that my staff has the knowledge, training and resources to perform assigned work to the best of their abilities. I believe in a collaborative approach to management and that staff input is essential. When decisions are made closer to where the work is performed, the outcome is more successful.

 

Meet the Candidate

Age: 61

City: East Wenatchee

Work history: Farming; real estate; banking; county appraiser for Chelan and Douglas Counties; Douglas County auditor for the past 17 years.

Education: Graduate of Moses Lake High School and Big Bend Community College; course work at Eastern Washington University; Certified Public Official, Washington State Certified Elections Administrator; National Certified Elections and Registration Administrator (CERA), obtained by attending Election Center courses from Auburn University.

Personal: Husband, father, grandfather; enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, music, sports and serving on the Boy Scouts of America Troop Committee.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY CLERK

 

Laurie Miller

Laurie Miller

(Republican)

How do you see the current operations of the Douglas County Clerk’s Office? Are operations running smoothly? Is there a need for certain changes, why or why not?

The Clerk’s office performs the minimum statutory functions, without offering additional services provided in other clerk’s offices. Sometimes it’s slow, not very public-friendly and not as efficient as it could be. It gets the basic job done.

My vision is that the office should place public needs before its own and constantly improve all its functions to achieve more efficient, effective operations and better serve the public.

  • Become “full service.” Provide all or most services offered by other clerk’s offices. Provide forms for family law matters and offer general information and filing assistance by a court facilitator (for a minimal fee to pay for the service). Do not refer transactions and revenue to Chelan County.
  • Make better use of advanced technologies for document imaging, receipting, electronic document filing and paperless case management. Currently accessible systems are much more efficient than the outdated methods now used.
  • Offer services in locations outside Waterville. Conduct passport service on a part-time basis in East Wenatchee.

My point is we cannot assume that business-as-usual will suffice forever. We need a clerk who’s capable and willing to explore opportunities for improvement and initiate operational efficiencies to help pay for them.

Describe your style of working with and managing office staff.

I will treat the staff as professionals, establish mutual expectations, communicate frequently, welcome ideas and share information. I will delegate duties, tasks and appropriate decision authority, but will not ask staff to do anything I wouldn’t do.

Ultimate responsibility for decisions and operations is mine, but I will hold staff accountable for their work and behavior. I will praise in public and criticize privately. Mistakes will be treated as “learning opportunities” unless repeat lessons are needed. I will be visible and accessible to the staff and public, spending minimal time in my office. I will expect each person’s best effort every day and lead by example.

 

Meet the Candidate

Age: 56

City: East Wenatchee

Work history: Current — legal clerk in Chelan County District Court; previous — Chelan County Superior Court Clerk’s Office, Federal Way School District, Franklin County Superior Court Clerk’s Office, Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Grant County Superior Court Clerk’s Office, law office of Kathleen E. Schmidt, Washington Mutual Bank, Park City Bank in Utah.

Education: Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington State University in Pullman.

Personal: Community service includes the Wenatchee Area Salvation Army Advisory Board, guardian ad litem for Chelan-Douglas CASA, Seattle Children’s Hospital Vascular Anomalies Guild, precinct committee officer for the Douglas County Republican Central Committee, Chelan-Douglas Republican Women; married to Bob Miller, with five children and five grandchildren.

 

Tristen Worthen

Tristen Worthen

(Republican)

How do you see the current operations of the Douglas County Clerk’s Office? Are operations running smoothly? Is there a need for certain changes, why or why not?

The current operations of the Douglas County Clerk’s office are running smoothly. The clerk’s office consistently processes the daily workload in a timely manner — what is received that day is processed that day. My plan is to continue with the current framework that has been established by our current elected clerk, Juanita Koch, and build from there. The state will be implementing a new court computer system within the next few years. As I have previously overseen two prior computer upgrades with the state within my 24 years of experience, I look forward to again working with the staff of the Administrative Offices of the Courts to put this new system in the Douglas County Clerk’s Office. With this new system in place, it will provide our clerk’s office with other opportunities to add new technological advancements.

Describe your style of working with and managing office staff. 

I consider my style of office management as conservative and fair. I am an excellent listener. I am able to defuse situations calmly and fairly. And most importantly, I am a team player which is very important to the position of the Douglas County clerk.

 

Meet the Candidate

Age: 48

City: Waterville

Work history: 24 years court experience; 14 years with the City of Chelan Municipal Court — 10 of those years as their court administrator; the last 10 years with the Douglas County Clerk’s Office as a deputy clerk and financial collections officer for the Superior Court.

Education: Public administration degree from City University in Bellevue.

Personal: Married for 24 years to Edward Worthen; we have two teenage boys Trey, 19, and Tyler, 15. I reside in Waterville, where I was born and raised. I am a fifth-generation member of Douglas County as my paternal and maternal family has been farming in Douglas County for over 100 years.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY PUD COMMISSIONER 2

 

Steve Pauly

Steve E. Pauly

(Nonpartisan)

What do you consider to be the major issues facing the Douglas County PUD during the six years of the coming term? 

One big challenge currently facing the Douglas County PUD is rebuilding the 10 generators at Wells Dam. This is a $170 million dollar project, which is scheduled to take another nine years to complete. Another challenge is rebuilding the Wells fish hatchery, while maintaining fish production during the remodel period.

The biggest opportunity for the PUD is in renegotiating the power sales contracts between the Seattle and Portland utilities and the Douglas County PUD, which have been in place since Wells Dam was built and will expire in 2018. Nearly 60% of the power generated at Wells dam is sold to these outside utilities. This is a tremendous opportunity to increase revenue, allocate more power for growth within Douglas County and secure a stable financial future for the PUD. Balancing growth in Douglas County, while exporting power outside the county, will be a primary concern for the PUD in the near future.

What experience do you have that would benefit the voters, businesses and agricultural interests in the county to address these issues during your term?

My qualifications for PUD commissioner come from 34 years of business experience in the tree fruit agricultural industry. I have been directly involved in sales, marketing, warehouse management, orchard management and strategic planning. I’ve worked for Northern Fruit Company and Stemilt Growers, as well as running my own business for the past 17 years, which is involved in the export of apples and cherries, and management of 800 acres of orchard here in Washington. Balancing revenue, debt, growth and providing contingency plans are a daily part of my work in the agricultural industry. I believe these experiences will guide me to play a beneficial role as a Douglas County PUD commissioner.

 

Meet the Candidate

Age: 54

City: East Wenatchee

Work history: Pauly Marketing Co.; Stemilt Growers Inc.; Northern Fruit Co. Inc.; including 34 years of experience in changing markets, production techniques, equipment, technology, profitability, and budgeting; with a significant history of successful interpersonal business relationships.

Education: Washington State University.

Personal: Born and raised here, graduating from Eastmont High School in 1978; married, with one daughter who is currently attending the University of Washington; a strong family background in community service.

 

Molly Doneen Simpson

Molly Doneen Simpson

(Nonpartisan)

What do you consider to be the major issues facing the Douglas County PUD during the six years of the coming term? 

Contracts with the four Northwest-area power purchasers expire in 2018, which will translate into additional Wells hydroelectric power available to the Douglas County PUD. It is of vital importance that the Douglas County PUD plan for the current and future residential, business and agricultural power needs of the whole county. The second issue facing the PUD is the continued work on the refurbishing of the 10 generators at Wells Dam. This complex project has faced problems with the work done on the first generator but is getting back on track. The third issue will be the $3.2 million Wells fish hatchery modernization project. The facilities are in desperate need of new water distribution systems, pumps, drain systems and many other infrastructure items which will ensure the continued success of the fish program.

What experience do you have that would benefit the voters, businesses and agricultural interests in the county to address these issues during your term?

I am a fourth-generation Douglas County resident and the daughter of a Badger Mountain wheat farmer. I take a fiscally conservative, common sense approach to decision-making. Additionally, I am employed at the Washington Apple Commission, where I work closely with the apple industry. The Apple Commission operates like a state agency so they must follow state laws, obtain qualified bids for large expenditures, hold open board meetings and follow strict recording and reporting procedures — many are the same requirements for the PUD. This will be an asset in my role as PUD commissioner.

 

Meet the Candidate

Age: 49

City: East Wenatchee

Work history: Currently employed as a project coordinator for the Washington Apple Commission.

Education: 1983 graduate of Eastmont High School; bachelor of arts degree in communications from the University of Washington in 1987.

Personal: My husband Rob and I have been married for 23 years and have three children — Rachel, a recent graduate of Eastmont High School and current freshman at Washington State University, and 14-year-old twins, Ethan and Emma, who are in ninth grade at Eastmont Junior High. For many years, I have been very active in the community, volunteering my time to many different service, school and sports organizations. My father Mike Doneen served more than four decades as a Douglas County PUD commissioner. Growing up with my father as a PUD commissioner gave me a unique perspective of the PUD and the role of its commissioners. I understand the fiscally conservative philosophies that shaped the PUD and won’t do anything to jeopardize the strong foundation that was built by the long-serving commissioners and managers before me. I am a well-rounded representative of the people I am elected to serve.