QUINCY — Candidates talked about experience, debt financing, overcrowding at the Grant County Jail, competence, assessment procedures, government responsiveness and many other topics during an election forum Tuesday in Quincy.
The forum was sponsored by the Quincy Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Quincy. Candidates for Grant County offices and the Grant County PUD were invited. They included incumbent Cindy Carter and Jeff Foster, running for county commissioner; Grant County PUD candidates Patti Paris and Nelson Cox, incumbent Terry Brewer and Judy Wilson; incumbent auditor Michele Jaderlund and challenger James Librecht; incumbent assessor Melissa McKnight and challenger Scott Schmig; incumbent treasurer Darryl Pheasant and challenger Casey Cooper and incumbent sheriff Tom Jones and challenger Myriam Villagran Diaz.
Candidates occasionally sparred over the jobs done in various offices, and how well those jobs are being done. Cindy Carter said she ran for commissioner because the commission at the time was not, in her opinion, sufficiently responsive. She said she has worked to make county government more responsive, and thinks those efforts have worked. Foster said in his opinion doing business with the county still takes too long, and that county government was not sufficiently business-friendly.
Librecht criticized Jaderlund's performance as auditor, citing the controversy over the bond passed by the Moses Lake School District. Jaderlund disputed his characterization, saying she and her staff have a lot of different jobs to do and handle them all efficiently.
Brewer defended the PUD's use of bond financing, where the utility is issuing bonds with a long-term payback to fund some capital projects. Cox and Wilson both expressed opposition, saying they thought the PUD had accumulated too much debt. Brewer said public utilities often use bonds to pay for capital projects, and that Grant PUD's current debt is within industry standards.
Pheasant has been treasurer for almost 32 years, he said, and said his experience was crucial in a job that's both technical and complex. Cooper said he thought Pheasant had been in office long enough, and that the treasurer's office had been slow in responding to concerns of officials of some junior taxing districts.
The county jail figured in some of the questions. Jones said it has been expanded and currently is licensed for 170 inmates and the daily population averages between 160 and 180 people. Restrictions frequently are placed on the women's section due to overcrowding, he said. The commissioners have been willing to work on solutions, he added, but in his opinion the best long-term solution is an increase in county sales tax.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.