7/27/20 | Cle Elum | Bruce Coe | Letter to the Editor
Elections! We will probably have our fill of politics as the summer, and the issues, heat up. It promises to be, at a minimum, the best entertainment you can buy with your tax dollars. Great actors, lousy script.
Other elections aside, we here in little ol’ Kittitas county are at a junction point, and the biggest question you can ask any of the candidates running for local offices is, “What is your vision of the future? And how will you get us there?”
The dreariest – but most important – questions in our county universe are the questions of how development and increased population will affect what we love about our county – our ‘rural character’. The open spaces, the recreational opportunities, a sense of history, low population densities; frankly anything that doesn’t look like where ”they” come from. People move here with a purpose and with expectations and move they will.
It’s a question I have been asking our commissioners for the last three years and frankly, I have seen a lot of head-nodding and not a lot of concrete action.
We are almost totally governed here by the state’s Growth Management Act. Enacted 20 plus years ago, most of the development you see on the west side of the state looks like what you get when you have ‘innovative government planning’. That’s an oxymoron by the way.
We are now seeing strong demand for housing here, and will soon see a tidal wave of people who are sick of cities and want out. In the middle of a COVID recession and massive unemployment. Decentralized offices for most office-based businesses will soon be the norm. All you need is a little stage makeup and a high-speed data connection and you are rocking! You can guess what that means for us here with five of the most populous counties in the state lining up on I-90 Eastbound, banging on our door. And no one is going to gate I-90 or issue lottery tickets for housing in Kittitas County.
We are staring down a population shotgun and our leaders have their rose-colored glasses on.
Politicians don’t like to answer questions about their vision because they know that they will be held to what they say in a public forum. Oh yeah, I forgot, social distancing will preclude public gatherings of any size for the purposes of answering these kinds of questions. Hmmm…..
So read their statements, go to their websites, call them, email or text them, go to their social networking sites, and demand that they give you a vision of the future. Grill them. What is it going to look like? How are you going to provide services and civic amenities? How will you provide for enhanced economic opportunity as we grow into a low-income, service-based economy? Do you have any experience in regulating development? How would you approach the increased densification that we will see over the next 5 years? What is your experience in land use planning and zoning? Paint me the picture!
When you look past the shotgun you’re gonna see exactly the people who want to come here – the people who want something different and are sick of government planning. Fed up with the unrest, afraid for their families and their futures, tired of weird schools, if they are even open.
Just to close, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to manage the 300 FTEs that the county employs, and it doesn’t take a genius to manage pandemics in a state where compliance with state regs is mandatory. Read the book, do the deed. Simple. That comes with either a steep learning curve or previous experience.
The kind of rhetoric you’re gonna hear in favor of electing a certain person are really the bare essentials required to do the job, kind of like breathing in, then exhaling. Comes with the job.
Look for a candidate who will tell you where they are going, not where they have been and what they will do, not what they have done. What do they have in mind for your future?
‘Cause right now we are 5 years away from being Issaquah, Mill Creek and all the other cookie cutter
communities in the state. Like ‘em? I’m not judging, you’re cool and I don’t care. Live there if you want, they’re nice communities. But Kittitas County might just want to be a little different.
Oh, did I mention 47° North?