by Richard Uhlhorn
At the Manson Community Council’s candidate forum on Wednesday, September 28, Anne Hessburg and Shon Smith squared off in an effort to convince voters to put them in the Chelan County Commission seat being vacated by Bob Bugert.
Anne Hessburg told the Manson/Chelan residents that without an honest dialogue, commissioners “can’t come up with solutions!”
Hessburg was raised in Wenatchee and now resides in Leavenworth where she has 15+ years of land use planning and served on Leavenworth’s Planning Commission. Currently she is Leavenworth’s Mayor Pro Tempore on its City Council. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust and the Link Transit Board.
Hessburg said, if elected, she has three priorities including restoring confidence in Community Development; being transparent in her dialogue with residents; and working collaboratively with people, organizations and agencies to provide leadership to find common ground.
Shon Smith grew up in Cashmere and claims to be a Christian conservative. “I’m very concerned about the future of Chelan County,” he said. Smith is a businessman with 63 employees in Wenatchee and Leavenworth (he owns the popular Wok About Grill).
His major concern is the high density growth the County is experiencing and, if elected, he wants to work for small business jobs, public safety support, responsible taxation and a limited government
Both candidates were asked what differentiated them from each other.
Hessburg said her experience and background as a planner, city council person and non-profit work separate her from Smith. “My background in development design and implementation helps to protect property rights. I want projects to be successful.”
Smith, on the other hand stated that his perspective from operating a business and feels that a business man on the Commission is important. “We are getting a lot of pressure from the westside,” said Smith. “Our county is changing and I want to preserve the quality of life we have.” He also wants to protect the rural lifestyle in the County.
Asked what three issues are most important to him, Smith replied that homelessness, protecting private property rights and the county budget. Huge increases in taxes is becoming “unbearable” for property owners.
Hessburg stated that “thing are complicated and solving issues doesn’t have one answer.” She sees a serious need to providing opportunities for different income levels. Creating confidence in consistent development standards. “It is a multilayered problem. People are searching for solutions.”
She wants to keep rural portions of the county rural. “I want to see people successful.”
Smith said he has had a lot of conversations with people and there is a need to keep prices down. Property owners need to have some freedom and that regulations need to be addressed. “I’m willing to look at all options,” said Smith.
He feels that high density development needs to be in the cities, not the county.
Hessburg was asked about her being a registered delegate at the March 2016 Democratic caucus. “You claim to be independent,” he said. He also brought up her stance on “Black Lives Matter” and the defunding of law enforcement. “What is your position,” he asked”?
Hessburg replied that 2016 was the first year that she became interested in the election process. “I wanted to know and learn and became a part of that process.” She added that the two party system has changed and said, “I never registered and I have voted on both sides of the aisle. I’ve always been an independent.” She added that the commission should be a non-partisan position.
As far as her Black Lives Matter involvement is that behavior of law enforcement officers can be unacceptable. “I believe in protect and serve and am not interested in defunding police.”
Smith said promoting tourism is all good and well if it doesn’t impact life in the County. “We need to go back to small towns like Lake Wenatchee and Plain. It needs to be don responsibly.”
Hessburg said that tourism is an important part of the County’s economy. “Chelan and Manson are big draws,” she said. “I believe we need to be transparent where we are spending those (tourism) dollars. How are we reinvesting those dollars back into the community.”
Chris Willoughby, an orchardist and past Manson Community Council member, asked with the increase in development issues, how would the County keep up with infrastructure needs.
Hessburg replied that infrastructure is definitely a challenge. “We are getting ahead of ourselves with development regulations. We need to move down the road with infrastructure deficiencies. We need to coordinate and work together.”
Smith said the infrastructure issue needs to be handed back to the developers. “It needs to fall back to those making a lot of money. It goes to how they are benefiting and how we are benefiting.”
Asked if either of them would support a fast food chain in the Lake Chelan Valley. Smith said, “I compete with that every day. It is the reason prices are higher. I would say definitely not in the Valley. Rural towns are not meant for that.”
Hessburg added that no one was coming to Chelan County to eat at a McDonalds. “We need to stay focused on local businesses.
Ballots for the November election will be mailed on October 21.