Economic development, property rights and political balance are on the minds of four men running for two Ferry County commissioner positions.
At the north end of the county, Republican Dennis Snook and Democrat Chris Kroupa are competing to replace Democrat Ed Windsor, who is stepping down.
At the south end, two-term incumbent Democrat Gary Kohler is defending his position against Republican David Schumacher.
Kroupa, 48, admits that standing in the middle of the road can be hazardous, figuratively as well as literally.
“I may get run over, but that’s who I am and I feel that’s where we need to go to make some progress,” Kroupa said.
He believes most Ferry County residents share his desire for political balance. But Kroupa said most of the county’s political activists, including Snook, “are pretty much one extreme or the other.”
Kroupa grew up in the Curlew area, where he lives and operates a pottery studio. A graduate of Curlew High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and a master’s degree in fine arts from Michigan State University. He worked at a variety of jobs while developing a regional market for his art.
After running unsuccessfully for Ferry County Public Utility District commissioner in 1979, Kroupa was elected to the Curlew School Board. He served 1-1/2 years in the mid-1980s. Kroupa and his wife, Nicole, have three school-age children from previous marriages.
His opponent, Dennis Snook, 53, is a retired Seattle Fire Department battalion chief who has lived on a farm near Danville for eight years. Snook hasn’t run for elected office before, but serves on the county’s Kettle River Advisory Board.
“Basically, my platform is economic growth, road improvements and property rights - in that order,” Snook said.
He wants to increase spending on roads without cutting support for the sheriff’s department, and isn’t sure what he would cut to do that. Snook said he would promote tourism while supporting the county’s mining, timber and ranching industries.
Snook and his wife, Glenda, have three adult children.
Fellow Republican David Schumacher, 67, also hasn’t run for office before.
Schumacher considers himself a “constitutionalist” who supports a more limited role for the federal government. “We need a federal government, but we’ve got too much federal government - and too much state government, for that matter.”
He said he would like to “get a coalition of counties going to get back a 10th Amendment government,” referring to the constitutional amendment that limits federal powers.
Schumacher grew up in western Montana and earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Michigan State University. He said he has been an aerospace research engineer and, later, a cable television installer, salesman and businessman.
He and his wife, Evelyn, moved to the Inchelium area 2-1/2 years ago from Enumclaw, Wash. They have three adult children.
His opponent, incumbent Democrat Gary Kohler, 54, said he wants to continue trying to balance competing interests in the county’s southern district, which is mostly inside the Colville Indian Reservation.
Although his brother, Dale, is a tribal councilman, Kohler is not a tribal member because of a change in federal law. He said the county and tribal governments have worked well together on law enforcement and road maintenance, and he hopes to resolve thorny land-use disputes with similar cooperation.
Kohler has spent most of his life grazing cattle on the 1,500-acre Inchelium-area ranch where he was born. He attended Western Washington University and Yakima Valley Community College. Kohler and his wife, Joyce, have four children, ages 19 to 31.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: The job Ferry County commissioners serve four-year terms and are paid $25,470 annually.