The central issue in Whitman County Commission races is the county budget.
Six challengers say the incumbents have done a poor job of managing taxpayers’ money, spending “rainy day” money and being caught off guard when incoming tax revenue can’t make the payroll.
The two Republican incumbents both face challenges from within their own parties.
The commissioners say the budget woes aren’t nearly as serious as critics paint them. The county has no long-term debt, Commissioner Nora Mae Keiffer said, and has nearly $4 million set aside for future projects.
Running for Commissioner Jim Potts’ seat are two Democrats: 40-year-old Pullman Realtor Roger McKeirnan and 48-year-old Palouse auto parts business owner Steve McGehee. McKeirnan wants more growth and less government. McGehee is pushing for long-term budgeting and more citizen involvement. The two Democrats will face off in the primary.
Potts faces a primary challenge from fellow Republican Hollis Jamison, a Garfield farmer who has criticized the county for borrowing money to pay bills.
Potts, 60, is a farmer from Lamont. His district includes part of Pullman and northern Whitman County. First elected four years ago, he wants to beef up county roads and boost crime-fighting.
Two Democrats are seeking the seat now held by Keifer, whose district includes part of Pullman and the Colton area.
Charlie Russell, 53, is an environmental consultant from Colton. He wants to make county government more understandable to the average person. In the primary, he’ll face Dan R. Antoni, 42, a pro-growth Pullman real estate broker who thinks the county should be run like a business.
Keifer will face off in the primary against fellow Republican Richard M. Dougherty, a Pullman city councilman and registered nurse who says the current commissioners are blinded by political infighting.
Keifer, 62, is seeking a third four-year term. A longtime social service volunteer and former store owner, she says she has the dedication and people skills the job requires.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: THE JOB Whitman County commissioners serve four-year terms and are paid $38,556 a year.