Palouse mayor, Colfax farmer are interested in 9th District legislative seatI agree with Commissioner Partch. Both Joe and Michael would make top-notch legislators. I am supporting Joe because he is a friend. Joe's background as a farmer and a director of the Washington Farm Bureau will give Whitman County farmers the kind of voice they need in Olympia. And Joe's stance on economic growth and development is 100% in line with my thinking.
Washington's 9th District has its first two candidates for Rep. David Buri's soon-to-be-vacated seat.
Palouse Mayor Michael Echanove and Colfax native Joe Schmick both recently declared their intentions to pursue the position.
Buri announced earlier this month that he would step down from the Legislature, effective Nov. 1, to become director of government relations at Eastern Washington University. Buri was elected to the Legislature in 2004 and has one year left in his second two-year term. His replacement will serve out the final year of the term.
Whitman County Commissioner Greg Partch said he hopes Buri's replacement comes from Whitman County.
"It is extremely important to us to have a replacement from Whitman County," Partch said. "We only have one representative for this area, so I feel it is important to have someone local represent us.
"We are going to do our best to help out anyone from our county."
Partch said the district can't go wrong with either candidate. He said both have roots in the area and are informed on the issues important to the district.
"We are very lucky to have excellent candidates," Partch said. "I know both of them and they are both very qualified."
Echanove, 40, has served as Palouse mayor since 2001. He said his experience in government will help him serve the district.
"I believe my experience in local government and my involvement statewide have given me good experience with issues important to all of our communities, and I will represent all of us," Echanove said. "I want to work hard so that all of our communities thrive and have opportunities to move forward in this century."
Echanove said it always has been a goal of his to serve in the Legislature. He ran for the House in 2004 but lost to Buri in the primary. He feels Palouse is heading in a positive direction.
"The city of Palouse will be in good hands," Echanove said. "We have an excellent City Council."
Schmick, 49, has been farming in the area for nearly 30 years and also operates a vending machine business. He also serves on the Washington Farm Bureau Board of Directors. He unsuccessfully ran for the 9th District's seat held by Steve Hailey in 2006.
Schmick said many issues are facing the district, but the most important is the decline of many of the area's small towns.
"I like where I live and enjoy where I live," Schmick said. "I would like to see that passed on to the next generation, but a lot of things are changing.
"We need to take a hard look at reviving our small communities. We really need to concentrate on a better economy."
Partch said Republican committees from the six counties comprising the 9th District will meet on Nov. 10 in Colfax to narrow the list of candidates to three or less. Their recommendation then will be forwarded to the Washington Republican Committee.
The WRC will review the candidates and forward the list to the district's 18 county commissioners. The commissioners will make the final decision with a simple majority vote. The district has until Jan. 1 to select a representative or the governor will appoint one.
The 9th District consists of Whitman, Asotin, Garfield and Columbia counties, in addition parts of Adams and Spokane counties.
Partch said he hopes the process will proceed swiftly.
"We want to get that person selected and get their feet on the ground before the session in January," Partch said. "There is a huge amount of work to do in a very short period of time."
I haven't had the chance to get to know Michael as well, but all of my interactions with him have been decidedly positive. I know whenever there is a Republican Central Committee meeting, Michael is usually present. He has certainly paid his dues to the Republican Party as a loyal member. Gordon Forgey, publisher of the Whitman County Gazette, wrote in an editorial published October 11 endorsing Echanove for the position:
Echanove has long served the public. He doesn't take credit for the successes of his town, but those successes started about the time he did. He doesn't seek the limelight and more often will be seen at town events quietly cooking hamburgers in a fund-raising booth instead of leading the parade...He has been a successful leader. Part of this comes from his hard work and attention to detail. Part of this comes from his undying resolve to serve the people who elected him to office. Part of it comes fromknowing when to step aside and let others take the lead.I also agree with Commissioner Partch that we need to replace David Buri with someone else from Whitman County, as Steve Hailey is from Mesa in Franklin County. Whitman County in many ways is the population and economic center of the 9th District.