Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, February 08, 2008

"Partch will seek third term as commissioner"

As I stated earlier, Commissioner Partch has my fullest endorsement for a third term. From yesterday's Whitman County Gazette:
County Commissioner Greg Partch Monday announced his plans to seek a third term in office. The 59-year old Garfield Republican has served as the District 1 representative, which covers the northeast portion of Whitman County, since 2000.

Partch kicked off his campaign on the heels of a decision to commit to bonding up to $9.1 million to fund infrastructure improvements at Boise-based Hawkins shopping center on the Idaho state line.

“I can’t think of a more fitting send off for my campaign than today’s signing,” he said.

He said the Hawkins development was indicative of his efforts to fulfill his 2000 campaign platform of strengthening the county’s economy.

“Watch Whitman County grow,” he said. “With what we’ve done for economic development, those fruits will be bearing four years from now.”

After entering office, Partch was faced with a declining county treasury after voter-approved state initiatives limited the taxing authority of local governments.

He pointed to Commissioner Jerry Finch, who was also elected to office in 2000.

“We weathered those storms together, and we’ll weather future storms as well,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot together,” he added. “But the county is in as good of hands now as it’s ever been.”

Finch announced earlier that he intends to seek a third term.

“We want to see the corridor develop. We want to see it develop, organized and systematic, and we want to protect the environment at the same time,” he said.

Partch also said he was proud to have helped coordinate an interlocal agreement to fund the Whitcom emergency dispatch center.

He said when he was first elected the cooperation of local entities in setting up the center was falling apart. Washington State University was contemplating a withdrawal from the Whitcom board. Those entities eventually pulled together to form the board.

“Now we’ve got a state of the art E-911 system at Whitcom,” he said. “It’s as good as anywhere in the US.”

Partch said the decision to run for a third term came after a great deal of consulting with his family.

“This was not an easy decision,” Partch said Monday. “But the salary commission made a big difference.”

Last year, the county’s citizen commission on salaries for elected officials decided to bring those salaries in line with the pay received by elected officials in comparable counties.

Prior to that, the commission set salaries at 85 percent of the average of its comparison counties. Bringing salaries to 100 percent of the average meant a $774 raise in the monthly salaries of county commissioners.

Partch explained low pay rates often discourage the best and brightest from entering the public sector. Pay for politicians is not always compensatory with their time commitment, he said.

“Sometimes its hard to get good people in government,” said Partch.

If elected to a third term, Partch said he hopes to mend fences with neighboring Moscow, with whom relations have been tense since the city tried to block the Hawkins development.

Also in his sights is finalizing a tax-share plan with Pullman that would allow the city to grow without draining the county’s tax rolls.

Partch currently sits on several multi-jurisdictional committees, including the Aging and Long Term Care Council of Eastern Washington, the Whitcom board, the Eastern Washington Work Force Development Council, the state Transportation Improvement Board, the Joint Planning and Action Committee and the state Public Defense Advisory Committee.

Prior to his first election, Partch worked for 26 years at Arrow Machinery north of Colfax. He and wife Sherry have two children. Greg Jr. lives in Spokane, and daughter Dawn lives in Tennessee.

The couple has also raised several foster children.

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