Cothren, Lawry face off for county commission
September 24, 2020
Editor's Note: Over the years,The Eagle has tried to keep coverage of candidates for election as even as possible. Part of that effort is to contact candidates and ask them to fill out an interview form covering their background, experience and goals; we follow up by printing what they submit. We also take advantage of community forums in which competing candidates respond to the same set of questions, and other stories come from these forums.
In the case of county commission candidates Dan Cothren and Tim Lawry, we have a mix. We had a story in June about Cothren speaking in an online forum which Lawry didn't attend (https://www.waheagle.com/story/2020/07/02/news/commission-candidates-state-their-views/17983.html). We followed with subsequent publication of Lawry's form interview responses (https://www.waheagle.com/story/2020/07/16/news/elochoman-valley-man-runs-for-commissioner/18035.html). Now we're catching up with Cothren's form interview responses and Lawry's responses to the questions Cothren addressed at the online forum.
We hope this process gives candidates equal treatment, and more importantly, these articles serve the voters of Wahkiakum County.
There will be another opportunity for voters to hear the candidates speak in another online forum Oct. 22; the forum is sponsored by a committee of members from the county's Democrat and Republican party organizations. A story elsewhere in this week's edition gives the complete schedule of the online forums and how to participate in them.
Candidate Dan Cothren
Dan Cothren is a lifelong Wahkiakum County resident. He attended Wahkiakum schools, and worked for 38 years as a timber faller. He spent 15 years with Crown Zellerbach and 24 years as a timber contractor. He has spent the last 15 years working forest security for Hancock Forest Management. He has been a Wahkiakum County Commissioner since 2000, and hopes to retain his position representing District 2 for another term.
Why run for the position?
"My aim is always to work across party lines to uphold Wahkiakum County's history, heritage, and rural values," Cothren wrote, "and to keep Wahkiakum County financially solvent."
What do you hope to accomplish?
"Thirty percent of Wahkiakum County's revenue is reliant on timber sales," Cothren wrote. "I wish to continue a goal of making Wahkiakum County financially solvent through resolving timber county revenue. I have been successful in passing two bills through the legislature, enabling Wahkiakum to take aggressive steps needed to ensure a healthy financial standing. I am dedicated to continued work with the Encumbered Lands Group to pass a $26 million pilot project through the legislature and a $6 million, three county subsidy from the Washington General Fund, to bridge the gap until this pilot project has been implemented."
"I hope to identify and designate disposal sites in a continued effort to supply beach nourishment to flood control zones," he continued, "address flood issues in Western Wahkiakum County, including Grays River and Grays Bay areas, and uphold our history and heritage through Wahkiakum County's rural way of life."
What's on Cothren's mind?
Land and property taxes and levies, property rights, noxious weed control (milfoil/knotweed projects), potable water for all of Wahkiakum County, emergency response management, and the ability to work across party lines.
Candidate Tim Lawry
Tim Lawry is challenging Dan Cothren, the incumbent for Wahkiakum County Commissioner, District 2.
Lawry was unable to participate in an online forum conducted by the local Democrat and Republican parties, but The Wahkiakum Eagle followed up and asked Lawry the same three questions from the forum that were transcribed in the paper on July 2.
What are the barriers to the job?
"It's basically requirements and resources,"Lawry responded. "If you generate too many requirements and don't have the resources, you obviously can't execute. And so the challenge is balancing county requirements with revenue. There are a number of resources of revenue in the county, one of them is natural resources as well. As requirements tend to evolve, because of what is going on in the world right now, I believe, and a lot of the county residents I've talked to, there is going to be influx, a significant one, to rural areas.
"We have to be ready for that because it's not going to generate tax revenue quick enough. You're going to have requirements increased with no revenue increases. There is the challenge right there. That has to be leavened into the plan in terms of, if there is a renewable resource in the county that you can increase production on, for example timber, you might want to do that, but it has to be tightly managed, because it is renewable, yes, but 35 years renewable.
How supportive are you with the sheriff's
office enforcing state and county laws
"I think you should give your law enforcement as much room to move around as possible," he said. "I think some of the stuff that comes down from the state is onerous, to be frank, and restrictive, and if the sheriff wants to push back on that, I'll support him 100 percent.
"Many calls to the sheriff's office are complaints about excessive noise, barking dogs, and livestock on the roads. Do we need ordinances for these things? Why or why not?
"It goes back to what I first talked about with the expenditure of county resources. The sheriff's department is a county resource. If we want to go ahead and create an ordinance for those kind of lower order things, we have to contemplate the resources to execute. We can't just willy-nilly make a bunch of rules that can't be enforced. That makes the credibility of the county executive and the sheriff's office less.
"I would definitely sit down at one of these county commissioner meetings and broach that subject, again, make the county commissioners more accessible. I've received several complaints earlier on that nobody that works can make those meetings because it's always on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. I would kind of like to think about moving that county commissioner's meeting to some other time that people could actually show up. I would even contemplate Saturday. We're public servants, we're serving the people, not serving us.
"It's the same thing again, what requirements are you going to produce, and how are you going to resource the servicing of those requirements. It's just like the masks and stuff. Police really don't get involved with wearing a mask because they don't have the resources to chase people around. I would rather have our sheriff's department do the important stuff like traffic, and other public safety issues, crime, that type of thing."
Lawry spent 23 years on active duty with the Army, as an aviator, flying helicopters and cargo category aircraft, he said. Afterwards, he applied and was accepted to law school in 2012, and went on to pass the bar exam in Maryland on his first try. He was an acquisition professional at a senior level, defending budgets to Congress for the Army.
Lawry is licensed to practice law in three states and three federal jurisdictions, he said, and has considered himself a general practitioner of family law, contract law, and taxation.