Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

The Courtyard

By Will DeMarco
Gazette Reporter 

Candidates outline views at Colfax forum


July 19, 2018 | View PDF

Colfax Candidate Forum

Lisa Brown, center with mic, answers a question at the Pullman League of Women Voters candidate forum in the Colfax library Tuesday.

Candidates running in Washington's primary election laid out their views during the Pullman League of Women Voters forum Tuesday night at the Colfax library.

In the congressional race, Democrat Lisa Brown and Dave Saulibio of the Trump Populist Party debated, while incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers was unable to attend and sent a proxy to deliver a prepared statement.

Brown explained her opposition to cutting medicare/medicaid, as well as to privatizing of the Veteran's Affairs department and local dams. She voiced support for funding research into how climate change affects local crops, a woman's right to choose, and a path to citizenship for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.

Saulibio began by commending free market capitalism and disparaging socialism, which he said "is on the same continuum as communism." Additionally, Saulibio urged the need for U.S. energy independence, explained a pro-life stance stemming from his Catholic roots, and called for tighter security at the southern border, including his support of President Trump's proposed border wall.

Reading a prepared statement, a representative for Cathy McMorris Rodgers discussed the congresswoman's body of work in government, including her work to expedite care for veterans and the passage of 10 bills, such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Next, candidates for county commissioner put forth their views and answered questions. Democrat John-Mark Mahnkey said that if elected, he would work to increase wages for Sheriff's Department workers, such as jailers, who he says "take home close to minimum wage" after paying for their health insurance out-of-pocket. While noting that he and his opponent are not all that dissimilar, Mahnkey explained their differences by saying he has no wishes to be a career politician.

Incumbent Republican commissioner Michael Largent opened by detailing his experience as a Whitman County Commissioner for the past 11 years, as well as his work with local organizations such as the Salmon Recovery Board. Largent agreed with his opponent on the issue of higher pay for jail workers, adding that county workers in general need higher pay. In closing, Largent emphasized his experience as a government official and as a WSU instructor.

County auditor candidate Eric Fejeran, a Democrat, began by outlining his values of "honesty, accessibility and election integrity." Furthermore, Fejeran pointed to his work with Schweitzer Engineering and as president of the Whitman County Democrats. When asked how he would hire and retain quality workers, Fejeran said he would incentivize employees by making sure "they are justly compensated with a path toward promotion."

Republican auditor candidate Sandy Jamison detailed her experience in the accounting industry of more than 30 years and detailed her campaign goals: To pass all state audits, develop and maintain a good rapport with other elected officials in the courthouse, and develop and maintain a good rapport with county taxpayers. Asked about securing quality employees, Jamison said "First of all, I think I'm a quality employee, and I'd be leading the pack, so I'll lead by example."

In the race for treasurer, incumbent Republican Mark Clinton focused on his familiarity with the responsibilities of a treasurer such as budgeting, audits and annual reports. Pointing to more than 18 years of government finance experience, Clinton said, "County Treasurer is a position of trust... I feel that I am that trusted choice."

Republican challenger Christina Nelson explained her work with county government spanning over two decades and as the current IT director for the county. Nelson said she would improve security at the treasurer's office by "exploring options" such as lock boxes and defending against hacking attempts.

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