Why I am running for Bonner County Commissioner
Our county government must protect our quality of life. I will represent everyone, not just “my base” by protecting our air and water quality, public lands and property rights. Family wage jobs and housing can be substantially improved by the County leading a cooperative effort with our cities, business and civic groups, schools, and others.
There has been expensive, unnecessary, and disruptive staff turnover at the county as a result of poor decisions by commissioners. Taxes pay for services. So, running the county efficiently serves everyone.
- On time
- Cost effective
This is the job you elect commissioners to perform. I take the responsibility very seriously. We all care what services cost and want to receive the best value for dollars spent. Our critical county services include roads and bridges, law enforcement, 9-1-1, courts, EMS, solid waste and recycling, planning, airports, waterways and parks, and elections.
Bonner is the only Idaho county not insured by the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP) state insurance pool. Our county does not take advantage of ICRMP’s training and advice that could dramatically reduce our legal costs.
Most county government issues are not partisan. Is there a republican or democratic way to pave a road? No. We need lean, effective and collaborative government to deliver the services we expect.
Family-wage jobs and housing affordability may be the biggest issues facing many Bonner County residents. Many of our talented young people reluctantly leave the county because we don’t offer enough quality jobs or provide suitable housing. It is important to have a good match between available jobs and qualified people. We are competing with other areas and counties for family-wage jobs and need to attract and hold those jobs here.
The County should promote a strategy to grow and attract businesses to provide attractive job opportunities. This strategy should be developed by a countywide team of stakeholders including private business, cities, school districts and higher education, civic and trade organizations, economic development groups, local political parties, agencies, and concerned citizens. I will spearhead the County’s leadership in this collaborative process.Housing Affordability
Housing affordability is also essential for economic development. We need a similar collaboration to ensure housing is affordable to our county residents while retaining Bonner County’s rural quality of life. Our families need to be able to afford to live close to jobs, shopping and schools.
Public lands in Bonner County are an economic asset that provide:
- Jobs for county residents in timber, forestry, and recreation
- Ongoing revenue from forestry jobs, recreation, and tourism, at minimal expense to local taxpayers or the county
- A powerful quality of life attractant for employers to grow and settle here
- A superb commercial and recreational public resource including: fishing, hunting, timber, snowmobiling, hiking, horses, picking berries, bicycling, and clean water for drinking, boating, and swimming
If taken out of public ownership, the public lands where we hunt, fish, drive and hike could be unavailable to us and removed from ongoing, multiple use. I support working closely with public land managers such as the Forest Service and IDL to ensure that the County’s interests are well represented.
Protected public lands such as wilderness are economic attractors. They encourage employers to locate here and people to live here and telecommute. Scotchman Peaks is currently being managed as wilderness; Senator Risch’s bill to continue protections through a formal wilderness designation will change almost nothing about how the area is managed. Such a designation will, however, attract visitors and business.
Be sure to check “facts” you hear about Scotchman Peaks as there are falsehoods out there, even though spoken with “authority.”
When I was in high school, spending time in wilderness strongly contributed to building my feeling of competence. For the benefit of future generations, I am voting “yes” on the advisory vote and encourage you to also.
The wise use of technology creates cost-effective solutions and economic opportunities. Technology is a key driver of the US economy. I will ensure that technology plays a key role in County government. Web sites, for example, are an excellent way to communicate with the public and distribute a wide variety of documents, maps and materials.
Recent City-County fiber optics projects must continue, to ensure that we, as a region, are attractive to the technology industry with their high-paying jobs. I will support strategies that leverage the use of technology, such as telecommunications, for jobs and efficiency.
Clean air and water are essential to our health and economy. Citizen and environmental groups are currently analyzing the full impact of the proposed silica smelter near Newport Washington. We must maintain the best air and water quality for our county.
Now, in early March 2018, I oppose the proposed smelter because I’m not confident that the governments of Washington, Idaho, and the US have standards which they will enforce that are sufficiently protective of the health of residents of Bonner County.
I am pro-business and will work hard to attract business to the County. But if the proposed smelter jeopardizes our health and the natural resources that we depend on, we must do everything necessary to ensure that the interests of Bonner County are not compromised.
How things get done (process) is a yawner until you don’t like the outcomes and don’t have a chance to make your voice heard. That’s why transparency is important.At the County, I will work to:
- Have the county commission conduct its business in public and be customer oriented. Attending commission meetings, it’s clear to me that most discussions of issues occur secretively
- Make sure all meeting agendas and all staff reports are easy to get online. A public information request should not be required for staff reports, as it is now
- Make it easy to sign up to automatically receive notices by email of the kinds of meetings that interest you
- Hold public hearings around the county, in the evening, when appropriate
- Make sure that all advisory Commissions and committees have qualified members that represent the breadth of the County’s citizens’ interests and values
There’s been far too much turnover in key county personnel, especially in senior management such as department Directors. When senior staff leave, we lose important institutional and local knowledge. When this happens at a high rate, it disrupts ongoing work and indicates the Commissioners are not managing well.
Controversial turn-overs have resulted in expensive and avoidable lawsuits. These personnel issues are discussed in executive sessions not open to public scrutiny and sometimes result in large confidential payments. They represent hidden costs of County government.
Remember: Vote Steve Lockwood for Commissioner on May 15, 2018 and November 6, 2018!