Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

Commission candidate relies on experience

Jim White says he is ready to make the transition from leading private farming associations to making Whitman County a better place as a county commissioner.

White has lived on the Palouse most of his life. He joined the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps at Washington State University and earned a degree in architecture. He served in the U.S. Army for eight years as a combat engineer before returning to Whitman County to run the family farm.

Now, he wants his four children to be able to return as well. He said the rough agricultural economy and limited job opportunities keep them away.

“Two of my children live in western Washington and they would like to come back, but they can’t,” he said. “There are lots of opportunities in the county, we just have to capitalize on them and make them work.”

White said the area has two great agricultural universities, excellent schools throughout the county and a broad range of home prices. To White, these are great bait to lure in new industries.

Food production is one area White wants to expand.

“Why should we send all of our peas, lentils and wheat away to be processed?” he asked. “In Asia, lentil snacks are the rage. We should look into start-to-finish production. Right here.”

White said the county needs to expand its infrastructure while it works on building new industries and expanding its tax base.

He said expanding high-speed Internet access to more towns in the county is a good start. He said the area should lead the region in technology, not struggle to keep up with the rest of the world.

White also wants to publicize the area’s hunting, water recreation and other outdoor activities.

“We have to let people know we are here,” he said. “We are the gateway to the Snake River; we should be hosting fishing derbies.

“We have the ability to grow. Let’s do it.”

White said his leadership style aids productivity.

If he disagrees with someone, he said he tries to find agreement with one part of an issue and use the common ground to work things out.

White has served on the county’s road and bridge, planning and growth management committees. He said he understands how the county works. Combining his committee, farming and private commission experience, White said he can look at issues fairly and consider all of the interests.

He used the example of farming and the need to grow. He said agriculture is the foundation of the area, but it cannot sustain it. White wants to protect agriculture and let people move into the county without generating conflict.

“I’m not going to tell a guy he can’t build his dream home because it might interrupt someone’s view,” he said. “As long as it’s within the state and federal codes, I’m not going to change it.”

White wants to protect farmers by bringing them together with people in new developments to let both sides know what it’s like to coexist. But first, the people have to come.

“We have to let people know we are open,” he said. “We have to work together. I don’t think agriculture can keep this area afloat. I wish it could. There are so many other options, we have to grab them.”


NAME: Jim White

RUNNING FOR: Whitman County Commissioner Position 3.

PARTY: Republican

PERSONAL: 58, married with four children.


ACTIVITIES: Member of the Washington Wheat Growers, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, National board of the U.S. Wheat Association. He also enjoys the outdoors and skiing.
My Take: White is clearly experienced enough for the commissioner job. His previous service county committees and farming associations are real assets.

I like White's approach to growth and development. My favorite quote from the article is: “We have the ability to grow. Let’s do it.”

Encouraging food production industry and more recreation activities are interesting ideas, although our distance from major markets probably precludes us from becoming a major food production center. I'm also not sure I agree with his statement of a "broad range of home prices" being bait to lure in new businesses. If anything, our "broad range of home prices" are all in the high range and act as a deterrent to new business.

However, White's statement that “I’m not going to tell a guy he can’t build his dream home because it might interrupt someone’s view. As long as it’s within the state and federal codes, I’m not going to change it,” seems to indicate his opposition to the county's proposed changes to the rural residential ordinance, one of the primary factors in keeping housing prices high in Whitman County.

I'm not sure what White's stand on the Hawkins Companies corridor development is, but I will try to find out and report back to you. Those are two issues that county commissioners WILL vote on, versus all these speculative campaign trail ideas.

White is running as a Republican, even though he did not receive enough votes at the county GOP convention to be nominated. Washington state law allows this even though party rules forbid it. This does present a bit of a dilemma for Whitman County Republicans, as White in every other way seems to be an ideal candidate.

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