Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Tekoa’s Rick Squibb plans to again challenge Partch"

Whitman County Commissioner Greg Partch will have an opponent again in the Republican primary this August. For reasons I have stated earlier, I have to disagree with Rick Squibb's platform of criticizing efforts to develop the Pullman-Moscow corridor. Whitman County has limited financial resources and must concentrate them where they will have the most impact: in the corridor. For that reason, I give my strongest endorsement to Commissioner Greg Partch.

From last Thursday's Whitman County Gazette:
Tekoa truck driver Rick Squibb announced Monday he will challenge incumbent Greg Partch, R-Garfield, in the Republican primary for the District 2 Whitman County Commissioner seat this fall.

Squibb, 48, served as mayor of Tekoa from September of 2000 to October 2002, and was on the city council off and on from 1989 to 2000.

Squibb also challenged Partch in 2004 when the Garfield incumbent ran for a second term.

Squibb received 31 percent of the vote in the Republican primary election that year.

Squibb pointed to efforts to drive Tekoa’s economy as an example of what could be done for other towns throughout the county.

“That town has come a long ways. By using that example, we can work to make the whole county more vital than what it is,” he said.

He cited the Tekoa business incubator on Crosby Street, which provides a low-rent building for startup businesses to establish themselves. The incubator spawned three companies that now employ several Tekoa residents.

“If you can do that in all the small towns in the county, that could create 50-60 jobs,” he said.

He claimed that would be more beneficial to the county than a concentration of jobs in and around Pullman.

The current commissioners, he said, have focused their efforts on developing the Pullman-Moscow corridor, at the expense of the rest of the county.

“Development in Pullman is great, but not if the rest of the county is suffering for it,” he said.

With fuel prices continuing to rise, Squibb questioned the benefits of jobs in Pullman if people have to drive nearly an hour to work there.

“The Pullman-Moscow corridor is an important piece, but that doesn’t help the people of Tekoa who need jobs,” said Squibb.

He criticized the commissioners’ recent decision to bond public money to develop infrastructure that would allow the Boise-based Hawkins Companies to build a 714,000 square foot shopping center on the Idaho stateline.

“If it does work out it could be a great thing,” said Squibb. “But if it doesn’t, are the taxpayers of Whitman County on the hook for it? Why put it on the backs of the county to help out a private developer?”

He also criticized the commissioners’ withholding of county .09 economic development funds. Those dollars, withheld by the current commissioners for possible needs in the corridor, need to be distributed to other towns, he said.

“We need to get back to where the .09 funds are benefiting our towns, and not just going towards the port’s private reserves,” he said.

That is something Squibb feels the incumbent has not done.

“Greg seems to feel like he should give everything to the port, but they have their own sources of money, they can do their own thing,” he said.

Also on Squibb’s agenda is better compensation for county employees.

“They made a promise they haven’t kept,” he said. “Sure they’ve built up the county’s cash reserves, but they did it on the backs of county employees.”

He worried that, without a marked increase in pay, finding a replacement workforce when current county employees retire would be difficult.

“I worked for the county for six months, but I couldn’t survive on the pay,” he said. “No one is going to want to work for what they pay.”

A 1977 graduate of Tekoa High School, Squibb now works as a long-haul driver for Colorado-based Western Distributors. He lives in Tekoa with his wife of 13 years, Holly, and 11-year old daughter, Mandy. Squibb’s older daughter Diana, a 2005 Tekoa graduate, currently resides in Arizona.

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