Party leaders outline next steps from listening tour
March 28, 2019
Organizers of a mid-March listening tour have released findings of the day-long effort to collect people's concerns and desires for the county and its communities.
The tour was part of a program started by the state Democrat Party's Ag and Rural Caucus to collect concerns and desires from rural communities across the state so they can be championed among statewide policy makers, who are heavily influenced by large urban populations.
The local program was a bipartisan effort coordinated by the central committees of the county's Democrat and Republican parties.
Reporting Tuesday to the county board of commissioners, spokesperson Ron Wright said three issues stood out from the many which tour participants heard:
1. Citizens, both young and old, showed great concern for education and schools, Wright said.
2. The county has a resource-based economy, and citizens and local government want to have local control over decisions affecting resources.
3. Citizens would like to have county wide broadband internet access.
The next step, Wright said, is to hold a series of workshops to gather information, develop common ground solutions and write positions papers that set out goals to pursue. The work would be done on a bipartisan basis.
Commissioners welcomed the report and said they wanted to have an in-depth discussion about the findings during a regular meeting.
Commission Chair Dan Cothrencommented that it's important for rural voices to be heard in statewide circles.
"People who live in downtown Seattle sit on (decision making) boards and don't know what goes on down here," he said. "We're getting hammered."
The feeling is the same in Walla Walla county and in other rural areas, Wright said, and that's the reason behind the listening tour.
In a written report about the tour, chair Don Schwerin of Walla Walla said the issues raised in Wahkiakum County resonate with issues expressed in eastern Washington.
"Our Colville meeting last year churned up similar passions around wildlife management, not about fish, but wolves," he wrote. "It is easy to recognize that sound resource policy requires good science, and that good science accommodates the variable empirical detail that comes with nature.
"One size does not fit all."
[Editor: The complete report follows this story on