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Kari Alexander seeks county commission seat

Affordable housing, good jobs, good schools are just a part of Kari Alexander's vision for Okanogan County as she runs for county commissioner. 

Alexander would like to see youth more involved in the local government. 

"Our youth are the future of this county," she wrote in an email to The Star. "I think we all want to ensure that Okanogan County is the kind of place our kids want to come back to and raise their own families - which means we need affordable starter homes, good jobs, and good schools."

"Our elected officials need to know the issues people are facing, and young people should be a big part of that," she continued. "My vision is to work closely with all the high schools in the county to create a Youth Council that would report to the County Commissioners and keep us apprised of all things 'youth' and help young people learn about what their elected officials actually do. I think getting youth involved early will instill a love of and knowledge in the democratic process, sparking interest in young people to vote and be more involved."

Alexander says she has family roots in the county dating back 100 years.

"I have a heart for this area and the people who call it home," she wrote on her website. "I am running to support the community that has always supported me. Community is what makes the Okanogan Valley an amazing place to live."

She got to know the community in her eight years as a math teacher, she explained. 

"Teaching was a great preparation for being an elected official," she wrote to The Star. "You have to know what each student needs, where they are struggling and what their strengths are; you have to ensure that you have a long term plan in place, as well as a plan for each day. And you get to know all the different kinds of people and experiences across the community, because you see them in your classroom every day. I'm so honored to have gotten to do that and I'm grateful that I get a little break to focus on other things, like using those skills and abilities to hopefully serve my community in a new way. Though I'm not in the classroom every day right now, I'm subbing in various school districts and getting to know more of my community!"

She has served on the Parent Teacher Association in Tonasket as well as in their chamber of commerce.

"Clear communication is the backbone of a good board," she said. "Through my work with the Tonasket Preschool, the Chamber, and PTA, I learned how to listen and look at situations and ideas from different points of view. Serving on these boards has given me a good understanding of Robert's Rules of Order, how to file government paperwork, and connection to people across the community.  It has also allowed me to practice prioritizing goals and master juggling details. All of these things will be valuable in a commissioner position."

Alexander also spoke about wildfires being an issue in Okanogan County.

"Wildfire is a growing threat across our county and we all deserve to live in safety," she wrote. "It's critically important that we make sure our wildfire plan is updated and reviewed on schedule. Commissioners also need to be working closely with regional and state groups to ensure we're cleaning up our forests and preventing fires before they start. We also have to include education for the community on ember resistant construction, defensible space and a practice evacuation plan that includes more than one way to exit the area - in the end, we are all going to have to be a part of protecting our beautiful county and homes."

She also addressed the issue of mental health.

"I've seen how hard it can be when someone doesn't have access to the mental healthcare they need - from growing rates of addiction to more young people struggling with severe mental health issues," she wrote. "One of the biggest problems is getting access to services–our county is so big it can be hard to get to clinics and because we're so rural it is hard to find and keep counselors here in the county. We have to continue to prioritize these services and increase access even in our remote areas."

She ultimately wants Okanogan County to be an overall good place to live. 

"We all want Okanogan County to be a place where safety, freedom, and economic prosperity mean families can stay and put down roots," she said. "This means we have to  ensure we have affordable housing,  ensure small businesses can get off the ground and stay in business, and that our infrastructure–from roads and bridges to schools and downtowns–is maintained. To do so, we have to ensure regulations and taxes are reasonable, promote local businesses, bring back tourist dollars, and work with programs like those at the PUD to help upgrade businesses windows, heating/cooling systems, and ensure good internet."

"I look forward to honest conversations about our county and listening to people from all corners so I can bring the voices of everyday people to the Board of County Commissioners," she wrote on her website 

She is running as an independent candidate for Okanogan Commissioner #3 against independent Aaron Kester and Republicans Lloyd Caton, Jr. and Jon Neal, all of whom The Star is working to write about as well.

The primary election for the race takes place on August 2 which will narrow the race down to the top two candidates to appear on the ballot for the general election on Nov. 8.


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