Branch faces Beeman for Okanogan Dist. 1 commissioner
Last updated 9/23/2020 at 8:32am
In Okanogan County, the Commissioner District #1 race is between incumbent Chris Branch of Omak, who lists no party preference, and Shauna Beeman, a Republican from Omak.
Voters will choose between them on the Nov. 3 ballot for the commissioner who represents District 1, which extends south to Coulee Dam.
"The basis for my work as a County Commissioner is thoughtful action based on engagement and learning," Branch, who has been in office since 2016, says on his website. "To learn, it is necessary to listen to others' views and be open to the development of simple ideas into better ideas. If we are problem solving, no idea offered is a bad idea when it is part of the solution search. However, without respectful engagement, participants stop submitting ideas. Disrespectful debates fail to develop good ideas. My current service positions result in meeting many people with great attitudes about developing solutions for common problems that all counties face."
Branch elaborated in an email to The Star on why he doesn't identify with a political party. "United we stand, divided we fall," he said. "I will talk and work with anyone. Partisan politics is not a productive means to manage county business. ... [I am] passionate about my work with ALL people of this County."
Branch lists economic fallout from COVID-19 as a key issue facing the county, saying that he communicates "directly with the Governor's office to work with County Health Officials and businesses to provide for the reopening (of) our economy in a logical and safe manner," arguing that cooperation and assistance will result in better outcomes than enforcement.
He also lists fire danger as a top concern, saying that "putting in place programs and measures to decrease fire danger and be prepared for the season is critical to the safety and welfare of the county's citizens and economy."
A voter should choose Branch, he says, because he has a thorough understanding of the job of county commissioner, experience in the private sector, 27 years in rural community development in and around Okanogan County, and "reservation roots, which is most of my district," he added, having been born in Nespelem.
Beeman, in a campaign statement on her website, says that "as rancher, small business owner, and Okanogan County native, I plan to prioritize the people of Okanogan County and hope to promote both economic and personal growth within our community. I'm no stranger to the many challenges' residents in our valley face on a daily basis. I believe my rural upbringing will help me be an understanding voice for those facing unemployment, homelessness, lack of affordable housing, and drug abuse. Promoting jobs available in the agricultural and natural resource industry remains one of my priorities. I will be a dedicated and passionate voice for Okanogan County while upholding the values of our Constitution."
Beeman told The Star on the phone Monday that to address unemployment, the key is to bring new businesses into the county, and with them will come jobs.
"Job creation is the best way to address the unemployment," she said.
Concerning drug abuse, Beeman said that "the drug problem in the county is affecting so many of our youth. We need to strive in the community to end that cycle of drug abuse and get them on the right path to be productive."
To do that, Beeman said that "we can work with behavioral health and other groups in the county to create a better support system, especially for the young people, and make those resources more available. I think it's hard for them to access."
She said that voters should choose her because she has "a finger on the pulse of what's happening in the community."