Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, August 21, 2006


The Daily News has started running profiles of local candidates. Saturday, it was Democratic County Commissioner Nathan Weller:
Weller wants to give ‘new vision’ to Whitman County

Nathan Weller believes his youthful energy and history in Whitman County make him an excellent candidate for Whitman County Commissioner.

Weller, 24, said it’s time for his generation to start being a part of government instead of just complaining about the direction of the county. He has little experience in government, which he said is a plus. He will look at issues from a different perspective.

“People always say young people should become involved in government. But then they say what can you do?” he said. “I have energy and vision for this area and I want to give back and see the county thrive.”

Weller decided to step into politics after seeing the closed business fronts in Colfax and watching high-paying jobs and opportunities bypass the county. The trembling state of agriculture is another concern, he said.

“It’s disturbing,” he said. “I have a friend who doesn’t know if he will be able to farm next year, and there are ways to get money here and allow them to continue to farm.”

As far as Weller is concerned, people can’t do things the way they always have and hope the county’s situation improves. He said the situation is not sustainable and business cannot go on as usual.

To save the county, Weller wants to declare Pullman the region’s center for high-tech industry and offer expanded benefits and tax breaks to companies to locate there.

He also wants to become more involved with the state. Weller said the state has a lot of programs to boost the area, but it won’t work if people don’t help.

The area already has several attributes such as Washington State University and its centralized location. He said the area needs to keep more graduates from fleeing after graduation.

“We have a brain drain, and we have to keep people here,” he said.

He said one way to keep people around is to offer health care for everyone in the county, especially children.

By boosting services, people can afford to live and explore ways to help the community.

Weller grew up in Pullman and earned a degree in psychology from WSU. Even though he lives in town, he is not unfamiliar with agriculture. His father works as a wheat researcher at WSU and he spent his college summers working in the fields to pay for school.

He does not want to abandon agriculture. It should remain a major focus of the county, although he’d like to see more diversification, especially in biofuels.

“The Midwest’s economy is booming because of biofuels,” he said. “We have canola, straw and mustard; we need to plant more.”

Weller said people shouldn’t despair, but look for solutions instead.

“We have to break the cycle of not being involved because eventually the torch will be handed to the next generation,” he said. “People need a new vision and energy and I want to be part of that.”

The election is Nov. 7.


NAME: Nathan Weller

RUNNING FOR: Whitman County Commissioner, Position 3.

PARTY: Democrat

PERSONAL: 24, single

OCCUPATION: Assembler at Schweitzer Engineering Labs

ACTIVITIES: Member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus.
My Take: I think it is great that young people want to get involved in local politics. If Josh Coke runs for City Council again, I'll volunteer to be his campaign manager. However, that being said, this is a very critcial time for Whitman County. Les Wigen's shoes are going to be hard to fill. There are many serious issues that will need to be resolved over the next few years including how the county will develop and providing vital services in a time of low budgets. Remember, Moscow is going to be fighting us tooth and nail in our efforts to grow. We need someone with Les's toughness, seasoning, connections, and common sense. A 24-year old political first-timer is not the ideal man for the job.

I applaud Weller's statements regarding the need for change, attracting business opportunities, keeping WSU grads local, and making Pullman a high-tech center. Unfortunately, his solutions for doing so are typically Democratic: let's rely on Big Government and socialized health care.

Instead of tax breaks to attract business (which Nathan's boss Ed Schweitzer sees as anathema), why don't we make Whitman County more business friendly (something Schweitzer has repeatedly called for)? Let's just get government get out of the way for the entrepreneurs.

And how the County Commission could do anything regarding health care is a mystery to me. That would seem to be the province of DSHS. And even if we could, how could our cash-strapped county ever hope to pay for universal health care? More pie-in-the-sky liberal dreaming.

I'm disappointed that the subject of the rural housing ordinance or the Hawkins Companies development in the corridor did not come up in the interview. Those are the top two issues that will be confronting the county comissioners in the near future and will have a direct impact on "saving" the county as Weller called for. We are instead left wondering what Weller's stance on those issues is. We can only assume that his views are similar to Cynthia Hosick and the other PARDners who dominate the Whitman County Democratic Party (i.e. for strict land use regulations and against the corridor development).

I am going to try and contact all five commissioner candidates to get their views on those two key issues.

1 comment:

Nathan Weller said...

I would appreciate you getting hold of me at anytime. I have a few ideas that have interested both Republican and Democratic voters, however the entirity of the discussion could not be placed in the newspaper. I am looking for new suggestions for solutions from all sides of these issues and would appreciate your candor.