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Laura Osiadacz and Jerry Martens are seeking the office of Kittitas County Commissioner District 2. Both are Republicans. They responded to a questionnaire provided by the Daily Record.

Name: Laura Osiadacz

Position sought: Kittitas County Commissioner, District 2

Years resided in Kittitas County: 28 years

What motivated you to seek the office of Kittitas County commissioner?

Working for the citizens of Kittitas County over the past four years is a great honor and responsibility that I value greatly. In April 2016, I was first appointed, and then later elected to serve as Kittitas County Commissioner. We made considerable gains during this time, but there is still work ahead of us.

While in office I have and will continue to:

• Close leads on water rights to create more green and yellow zones, ensuring land owners the affordability to build on their land

• Work diligently on economic development with one of the projects being the addition of a saw mill that will create local jobs while improving forest health

• Provide quality leadership by chairing the Upper Kittitas County Traffic, Lodging Tax, and Public Land Committees. I am also a member of the Washington State Association of Counties and Legislative Steering Committee for Kittitas County.

• And more

It is important to me that Kittitas County has a leader that will put the needs of the community first. As Kittitas County Commissioner I will continue work together with the people to build a better future for our next generation while respecting and preserving our rich past.

How best can the county manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, in terms of potential loss of revenue and increase expenses associated with the response to the pandemic?

Kittitas County has historically and continues to budget conservatively. In 2020 the fund balance is slated to be higher at the end of the fiscal year due to higher revenue than predicted and fewer expenses incurred resulting from COVID-19 restrictions.

Kittitas County has also received CARES Act funding. Although this funding comes with restrictions we have used this money prudently to ensure it is spent to best serve the public. To date we have updated the jail and courts to continue to provide safe and speedy trials while protecting staff and inmates. Kittitas County has had zero COVID-19 cases in our jail. We have also funded the implementation of electronic software for plan and permit submittal to help people continue to build in a safe and efficient manner. Grants and PPE have been funded by the County to help businesses mitigate COVID-19 impacts. We are also working with schools to provide the funding necessary to safely reopen.

I am very proud of the financial standing for our county. We work very hard to ensure the County is set-up for financial success. Kittitas County’s prudent financial planning allows us to weather storms such as what we have encountered with COVID-19.

What is the most significant challenge facing the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners over next five to 10 years and how would you address it?

Kittitas County needs a leader that not only has the experience, but relationships to ensure we grow responsibly. Through community input I have identified several challenges.

While in office I have and will continue to address:

• Congestion & Infrastructure: Currently chair the UKC Traffic Committee, Updated 20 Year Transportation Plan adding evacuation routes, Lobbying for additional lanes on I-90 to keep traffic off County roads, funded additional deputy to patrol rural roadways.

• Maintaining Rural Character: Hired Long Range Planner, Implemented GIS mapping to predict growth over the next 20- 50 years while receiving community input for management strategies.

• Fire-Life Safety: Support law enforcement, fire districts, and medical providers to ensure we have sufficient resources, currently working with Sheriff Myers to add a substation and relocate Search and Rescue to better serve community.

• Economic Development: Working diligently to bring in a saw mill to create local jobs and improve forest health, close leads on water rights creating more green and yellow zones, hired airport manager and support staff to expand economic development at Bowers Field.

I plan to continue to work for the people to ensure we grow responsibly while engaging our citizens.

Name: Jerry Martens

Position Sought: Kittitas County Commissioner, Position 2

Years Resided in Kittitas County: 20 years

What motivated you to seek the office of Kittitas County commissioner?

Four and a half years ago, I was the Republican Party’s first choice to fill the vacant position on the Board of Commissioners. The sitting commissioners chose the incumbent over the Party’s recommendation, and now she represents our county with the longest tenure and experience on the board. It’s no secret that the current commissioners don’t seem to care for one another. Their inability to work together directly affects the quality of service you receive. We deserve better.

I do not sit back and complain: if I see that change is needed, I get involved. It is clear to me the lack of vision and leadership shown by the incumbent and the Board results in a government that continually fails to serve you well. As your Commissioner, I will work with the community to help develop a clear vision for our county and create measurable goals that drive us closer to what we want to be as a county.

Our county budget is over 26% larger than four years ago. We need to be looking at ways to make government better, not bigger. Your government needs to be transparent, accessible, and accountable to you. As a commissioner, I will make every effort possible to modernize the county’s communications platform with a focus on making broadband service available countywide.

How best can the county manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of the potential loss of revenue and increase expenses associated with the response to the pandemic?

COVID-19 should be forcing the Commissioners to take a step back and make assessments about the county’s role in our citizens’ lives. It’s time for vision versus reaction.

As impacts are considered and realized, the guiding principle should be our citizens and businesses first. The focus should be on how best the county can provide support while maintaining its core operations. Our county must redefine its role as that of a facilitator instead of a regulator.

Programs should be analyzed and assessed for citizen support, with those of marginal value being the first to be pared back. Services that the private sector can provide more efficiently should be reviewed for continuation.

In addition, the commissioners have retained the services of a firm that specializes in finding additional funding services at the federal level. They are very familiar with finding resources available that have gone untapped in the past.

COVID-19 has illustrated our level of unpreparedness. We need to learn from it and reassess our county’s priorities. It will be the responsibility of our next BOCC to make sure this takes place.

What is the most significant challenge facing the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners over the next five to 10 years, and how would you address it?

Growth! The BOCC will be in a unique position to facilitate and guide how our county will look over the next 20 years. In our last Comprehensive Plan Update, many needed decisions were punted into the future. The problem is, the future is now.

If elected, I will convene town hall meetings with each community to engage the people around vision and planning. State law mandates that we plan for growth; it is our responsibility to decide how that planning takes place and set goals and priorities. I will resist hiring consultants and look to existing staff and elected officials to attend those meetings.

My background is in construction and land use, making me uniquely qualified to lead this important task. Many decisions are needed in the very near future, and present leadership has not risen to the task.

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