The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Retired sheriff challenges incumbent commissioner--Blair Brady

 

September 13, 2018

Diana Zimmerman

Blair Brady is hoping to continue his work as a county commissioner for another four years.

Incumbent Blair Brady is running for a fourth term as a Wahkiakum County commissioner, and part of his work has been to fight not only for this county, but for all the counties in the state.

"I'd like to continue to move the needle," Brady said. "Hopefully the relationships I've developed in Olympia are important. It's all about relationships. If you don't have the relationships, it's pretty hard to get anything accomplished locally or on the state and federal level."

As the first Wahkiakum commissioner to be elected president of the Washington State Association of Counties, Brady and his colleagues are "pushing hard to resolve financial issues at the state level."

"Olympia is picking our pockets," Brady said. "They are denying county governments to provide services that the people may desire or were accustomed to. Every time our costs go up or they send us something else we have to do without funding, we have to do it and it takes away from other things we might have done, whether that be funding St. James, libraries, museums, whatever."

"We have played nice, we've lobbied, but to no avail," he added. "All 39 counties have supported a pursuit of strategic litigation. We do not want to be litigious, but we are hoping that after getting a couple pieces of low hanging fruit, they will understand we are serious and will hold them accountable for doing what is right for counties."

"The future of the county is really at stake. Year to year we've been struggling along being conservative financially. We'll make it happen, that's the plan. That's a big issue for me."

Another issue on his mind is timber.

"It's critical for our future," Brady said. "When their own biologist tells us that the marbled murrelet will be gone in 20 years no matter what you do, my response is, 'Great, how do we get our lands back?' Well there is no mechanism for that. So let's call it what it is, it's a land grab. It's not about the birds, it's a land grab. So we're fighting that."

"Dan (Cothren), Mike (Backman), and I have all been working on this," Brady said. "We have to get legislation passed this biennium to allow the county to replace our encumbered timber lands, transfer lands that are unencumbered that are of equal or better value and we will be back in a sustainable future and not be as dependent on everything else."

Brady spoke about the roads in his district, where the roads flood every winter.

"They always have; they always will," he said. "Some folks are asking what are we doing about that. We're a small rural county; I hope you were aware when you purchased the land that this is what occurs. We do have some emergency routes and we do have ways of helicoptering people out as needs are. We look for grant opportunities when we can."

On efficiency of government:

"My first year in office, I had to lay off 30 percent of the government," Brady said. "It was huge, and that hurts. We were so bad off, people couldn't take vacations without shutting an office down. We've recovered from that mostly. But there are 13 counties in the state that don't have 24 hour police coverage. It's systematic of the problems in the state that aren't being addressed."

"We're working on getting past the administrative and procedural delays," he added. "The permits are out of control. A perfect example is what we're going through to get sand and correcting the damage done to us by Corps of Engineers projects. We have to show we aren't going to damage theirs but they don't have to show they didn't damage ours."

"We need to create our own future," Brady said, "or the state or somebody else is going to. We have to persevere and oppose things not in our best interest. The shoreline master plan was a perfect example of that. The plans and the regulations and rules they tried to impose upon us were not necessary. We refused the one that was built by CREST, and we've been blessed by a property rights group that has redone it and has made sure that the only requirements were the ones required by law not by wish lists from ecology or ecology organizations."

"Our greatest asset, 40 miles of riverfront, is under utilized. The continual imposition of rules and regulations not allowing us to utilize that are crazy. Look around this county. It is still a beautiful place. We do manage our land and our forests. We don't need people from the population centers telling us how to do that."

Brady is fiscally conservative and a Democrat.

"I don't vote party line," he said. "I vote for the candidate and the issue. If you are a party line voter, you aren't thinking for yourself. I don't see why we're talking. You're wasting my time and I'm wasting yours."

Brady graduated from what he described as a very good high school in New Jersey, where all the teachers were professors. He had a varied career and retired at the age of 47. A couple years ago, he was nominated by all 39 counties to represent Washington State on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Counties.

He travels a lot because of his roles in the state and national associations and also because of his role as county commissioner.

"Before I ran to be the president of the state association, I asked both my seat mates if it was okay because it would involve time out of county, but they both realized, as I did, the benefit to our county," Brady said. "I'm always accessible either by my personal email, county email, or my private phone number which I've put out for years. I'll continue in that fashion."

"The future of the county is important to me," he added. "We treasure our rural atmosphere. Sometimes we get people that come in from the cities that want all these things that aren't in our heritage or what the majority still treasure. That's always a challenge, we can't be everything for everyone."

 

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