Kudos to the Cathlamet Woman’s Club and The Eagle for hosting the September 23, 2013 forum where the voters could listen to the responses of Wahkiakum County Sheriff candidates Mark Howie and Mike Balch to questions about their qualifications, preparedness, and approach to the job of Sheriff.
September 17-23 is National U.S. Constitution Week, and I cannot think of a better way to honor the legacy of our Founding Fathers than helping citizens inform themselves about choices facing them on November 5, Election Day.
After thinking about the letters published in The Eagle supporting both candidates, and listening to friends and neighbors, I am struck with this question: What happens after the election?
It seems pretty clear that, if Mike Balch wins, Wahkiakum County loses two very highly trained and experienced law enforcement officers (Mark Howie and Steve Marshall). Steve has announced he would retire, and Mark is left with competing with who-knows-who for the Deputy position Mike exits. Simply put, our county would lose the services of two of three experienced lawmen.
If Mark Howie wins, the county retains Mark’s and Steve’s advanced training, managerial skills, peer Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) respect, and 21st century expertise, and Mike will likely continue to serve and provide the street patrol and suspect-interviewing skills mentioned by other letter-writers.
To me, electing Mark Howie will be a win-win-win for our county. Wahkiakum County and its Sheriff’s Office are small, but they need and deserve the very best, brightest, and revered law officers to do a difficult job with very limited resources.
Mark Howie has been tested and found to be a proven leader in the crucible after the tragic death of a respected Sheriff, Jon Dearmore. Jon honored me when he asked my recommendation on appointing an Undersheriff. Based on what I knew of Mark as a LEO, neighbor, business owner, and service club member, I recommended him for Jon’s consideration. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when Jon smiled and said, “Good. I’m offering him the job!”
Wahkiakum County law enforcement has been stronger for that appointment. The County Commissioners confirmed that when they appointed him after Jon’s demise. Now it is up to we voters to decide how to move forward. I am convinced that electing Mark Howie will bring the best results for Wahkiakum County, and respectfully recommend that you consider voting for him.