Election 2020: County commission candidates
October 29, 2020
The Wahkiakum Republican and Democratic Team held a debate for Wahkiakum County Commissioner candidates on October 21. The virtual event can be viewed online, on the Wahkiakum RandD Team YouTube page.
Dan Cothren, incumbent for Commissioner, District 2, his challenger Tim Lawry, as well as Mike Backman, incumbent for Commissioner, District 1, and his challenger Lee Tischer answered several questions during the nearly two hour event, moderated by Stephanie Leitz.
Here is one of the questions, and their answers:
Since the Columbia View Care Center closed some years ago, there isn’t a facility here in our county for senior citizens to go when they are no longer able to care for themselves. What action or proposal would you support to keep our seniors in county during their sunset years?
Lawry: The care of seniors is important but I’m not so certain...I haven’t really looked into this aspect. Being a senior myself, I have taken measures to make sure I’m taken care of in my latter years. I’m not particularly schooled on what the alternatives might be. I’ll have to leave it at that.
Cothren: I’m president of the COG, which is AA for the aging. We’ve got groups that are formed here to help with any subsidies that the folks need, and trying to help that. We do a lot. We have a group of folks that are volunteers that are on this, and we’re trying to deal with the elderly folks, and we have a lot of older people. I’m one of them, it’s getting there. I can’t say enough about the group helping folks out that need help. Every little thing, if they don’t have somebody there to help them, there is, like, a case person to come out and help with that. For having a home set up there, I don’t know, it’s a very costly business. The reason the one kind of failed was it cost so much money to run one of those. We do have a lot of folks that move out because they get closer to services in Cowlitz County and it’s closer to the medical facilities for them to go and get their treatments and whatever. We do have obstacles here. We do have the aging group that will work with the folks in home care types of issues. And adult foster care. Those are things that can happen for them. We are looking at that.
Lawry, rebuttal: In the final analysis, it all boils down to what is the requirement? What is the county responsible for in terms of elder care? You have to assign resources to those requirements and the county has to make a conscious decision whether they can afford those resources in view of other priorities. It goes back to the communication between the county executive, the county legislature, and the people of the county. If they want to assign resources to that requirement then we should. If we can’t afford it, then we have to think of something else.
Tischer: We’ve had a few privately owned, the nursing home was privately owned, the assisted living facility in town was privately owned. With all the state and federal regulations, and the medicare costs, the reimbursement to those places was so minute, it was hard for them to stay in business. I agree with Dan that our main focus should be with the in home care and making sure the elderly are informed of all services that are available to them locally and help them as much as we can.
Backman: I think you have to see if some small business wants to come in. You can’t legislate making somebody have a business. They have to choose to come down here. You can advertise that you have a lot of elders and that property is cheaper, and maybe somebody can pencil it out and move down here to see the need. The biggest thing is we need to support the EMS cause, as all the people are getting older, we have all volunteer people that are coming to those ambulance rides, and we are going to be more and more ambulance rides all the time, because we have more and more people that are vulnerable. We’ve got to support that part, I think we should support more walking trails, and things that keep you healthy longer, and let them know that we have the On the Move, and the Medicare rides, both so that they have all the information of what is available to them, and how to keep them healthy as you can, so they can stay here as long as they can. Last thing maybe, try to figure out how to do where they have multiple people in one house, where they have house sharing, so that you can stay in your house, you can have more people into one house, have mixed housing, where people can stay together, try to organize that, so that the people through the health department maybe, so that multiple people in one house, instead of having one person in a house, sometimes they’d be able to stay longer, if they had simpler, and more people in the house, try and help organize that.
Tischer, rebuttal: Our EMS levy is up for a vote, and I would encourage everybody to vote in favor of that. It is so important out here in the rural area and buying LifeFlight insurance is very reasonable.