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Kittitas County Commissioner 2

The board of county commissioners is the legislative authority for the county in the 33 noncharter counties. The commissioners serve as the chief administrators for most county operations.

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  • Candidate picture

    Jerry Martens
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Laura Osiadacz
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

How would you address the three most important issues facing the County?

How can the County address the lack of mental health providers and services?

How should the County handle budget shortfalls due to COVID-19 measures?

What proposals do you have for economic development and expansion of living wage jobs during the pandemic recovery?

How do you propose to balance a reduced budget with increased need for services?

Party Preference Republican
Experience (Max 500 characters) - BS in Building Construction from the University of Washington -40 years self employed in construction/land use industry - Past President of the Central WA Home Builders Assn - 12 years as City Planning Commissioner - Kittitas County Water Conservancy Board - Kittitas County Flood Advisory Board - KC Land Use Advisory Board - Affordable Housing Council of Central Washington Member - Central Washington Built Green Association President - Building Industry Association of Washington Director
Campaign Phone (509) 674-7271
Campaign Email campaign@jerrymartens.org
Town where you live Cle Elum, WA
My primary focus when taking office will be economic recovery, making our county more transparent, accountable and accessible, and working on defining our vision for the future of Kittias County. COVID-19 restrictions have hit our businesses hard and we need to do whatever we can to help them prosper and start hiring again. The county needs to get out of the way and become facilitators instead of regulators.

In becoming the facilitator, we must focus on adding infrastructure throughout our county and into rural areas. Growth is projected at 20,000+ people over the next 20 years and we need to add services, housing stock, transportation, broadband, and more. Now is the time to cast a vision and create a plan to make it reality.

This will be essential within our rural communities. Without direction and focus, growth will continue as it has in other regions of the state. Now is the time to make sure we understand how we want our community to look.
Mental health concerns span our entire population without discrimination. It impacts our community, our schools, churches, law enforcement, and hospitals.

At the county level, mental health services must be a budget priority. This will require understanding issues and finding effective, targeted solutions. If we decide as a community to implement a tax to fund this, it must fund programs with proven successes, be reviewed for success, and have a sunset clause.

Outlining steps to be taken must include rigorous data-driven oversight and review. Mental health has been an ongoing issue and we must learn from past actions. Simply throwing money at a problem rarely results in measurable improvements. As plans come together, providers and services will follow.

Coupled with mental health is substance abuse. Over the past 20 plus years, money and efforts have not been effective in adequately addressing this or the mental health issues it breeds.
COVID-19 will force a new normal in operations and will impact every aspect of our lives for the foreseeable future. How this translates into actual budget shortfalls or causes long-term adjustments in county operations is still an unknown.

A global review will be needed to determine our county’s priorities. This should include assessments of services provided by county departments and revisit how and what county operations should be in place. This oversight must include a review of county services against similar services provided by the private sector. If the private sector can provide a superior level of service with similar pricing, it should be strongly considered.

Commissioners and other elected department leaders must take a top-down look at how and why services are provided at their current level and conduct a data-driven review for places where efficiencies can be made.

COVID-19 has forced us to re-evaluate operations and now leadership must step up.
Our county’s primary oversight is of rural areas and current county code limits the promotion of economic development. This is inclusive of up-zoning and increased restrictions on what people can do with their property.

Due to the COVID-19 shutdown, many businesses will need to pull back operations; in many cases to their homes. Restrictions within our current county code will likely inhibit this.

We need a complete review of code toward adjusting regulations that are supportive of rural business while promoting urban development. This is inclusive of expanded rural zones for commercial/industrial uses with added resources like water rights and broadband services.

Our citizens have soundly rejected taxing tools like a port district so efforts will need to come from elected officials promoting economic development. How this takes place will largely depend on the experience and background of those officials making sure that needed tools are in place for new business development.
While our budget hasn’t been severely impacted, we still need to take a deep dive into the budget and prioritize. That comes with our commissioners casting a vision for the future – something that I will insist on as commissioner. With targeted priorities, programs should be reviewed and defended with data to determine their effectiveness and value to our citizens. Programs, services and operations that are questionable will then be phased out.

Bringing broadband countywide will allow us to provide quality services remotely and closer to the people. It will facilitate efficiency and economy for both the public and private sectors. Increased efficiency will also promote or assist in making our county responsive while allowing for upgraded services and overall operations.

My focus will be in providing the leadership to make the tough choices required in this 4-year election cycle and not make decisions based on re-election prospects.
Party Preference Republican Party
Experience (Max 500 characters) *Kittitas County Commissioner, District #2: 4/15/2016- present *Roslyn Fire Department: 2008- present * Roslyn, Ronald, Cle Elum Heritage Club: Current Board Member *Roslyn City Council: 5 years *Central Washington University: Graduated 2003
Campaign Phone (509) 304-5051
Campaign Email retainlaura@gmail.com
Town where you live Roslyn, WA
Twitter @laura_osiadacz
I am currently working to address economic development, transportation challenges, and responsibly managing growth. Diversifying our economy is extremely important to the health of our economy. I have personally taken on the task of engaging with stakeholders to entice private industry to site a mill in Kittitas County. The Board of County Commissioners is also investing in Bowers Field to expand the airport to attract corporate business. We are addressing traffic challenges associated with I-90 by working with community, state, and federal stakeholders. In 2020 we invested $500,000 to implement solutions which will be recommended to the county from UKC Traffic Committee. The Board of County Commissioners has hired a long range planner to address the growth we anticipate. They will work with citizens utilizing GIS mapping to provide for predictive modeling. This will allow community input to provide responsible growth that preserves our rural lifestyle.
Kittitas County has and continues to support providing the resources needed to address mental health in our community; however we have the opportunity to do more. It is true; Kittitas County has less mental health providers per citizen on average than other communities in Washington State. Our county currently has a Behavior Health and Recovery Advisory Board. This group has recommended to the Board of County Commissioners we act on RCW 82.14.460. This is a sales and use tax for chemical dependency and mental health treatment services. I both personally and professionally support utilizing this as a mechanism to bring the mental health providers and additional services to our community. However, I do not support the Board of County Commissioners imposing this decision on the people. I strongly believe this needs to go to a vote of the people. I believe the citizens should always decide when and if a new tax should be implemented.
Kittitas County has historically and continues to budget very conservatively. As of January 2020 the general fund rainy day account has over 1.3M. Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 the Board of County Commissioners authorized $250,000 to be utilized if needed. Staying true to our conservative nature the revenue forecasted to come into the general fund is anticipated to meet or exceed the 2020 budget. Kittitas County does not foresee we will need to use any of the money in the rainy day account to balance our budget. I am very proud of the financial standing for our county. The Board of County Commissioners along with our Budget and Finance Officer Work very hard every budget season to ensure we are 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.

Economic development and a more diverse economy are desperately needed to ensure our children have the opportunity to stay in our community and earn a wage that can support a family. There are a number of ways I have been working to create an environment that provides for this. One of the current efforts I am working on is an opportunity for a mill. I have had several conversations with state, federal, and private partners in an effort to provide for enough timber to supply a mill for a minimum of twenty years. I am also working diligently to advocate for the expansion of I-90. Freight mobility is one of the major components industries research prior to bringing their business to a new location. In addition to this Kittitas County is also investing in Bowers Field to expand the airport to attract corporate business.
Kittitas County has and continues to maintain a very conservative budget. Since the great recession in 2008 Kittitas County has put aside over 1.3M in the general fund rainy day account in preparation for times such as this. However, due to our consistent effort to budget responsibly we find ourselves in a position where the general fund should meet or exceed revenue in 2020 preventing us from needing to tap into this resource. One account that has seen a decline is the lodging tax fund. This is balanced out with a reduction in cost due to organizations canceling events. We believe we can redirect funds from events which are canceled to beef up the amount we award to the Small Capital Grants for Lodging Tax. Investing in local capital projects not only benefits our community by investing in our infrastructure, but it also assists in boosting the recovery of our economy.