Squibb had been running on the platform that the commissioners have been investing too much money on the corridor and not enough on the small towns in the county. This is a patently silly argument.
The commissioners did not choose the location for the Hawkins development. In retrospect, I bet the commissioners would have preferred Hawkins to be as far away from Moscow as possible. But once Hawkins selected its location (the absolutely most logical location for a large retail development on the Palouse,) the commissioners rightly did everything they could to support it because of the enormous tax revenue that will be generated that can benefit the whole county.
Let's face it. Businesses build where the people (i.e workforce/customers) are. Does anyone really think that Hawkins would have located in Lacrosse or Rosalia if only the commissioners had tried harder? I hope and believe that Whitman County's small towns will attract companies to locate there. But that is a vast, perhaps impossible, challenge. A business recruitment expert has stated that Whitman County's high housing costs and limited vocational training are major obstacles in attracting manufacturing firms. Workers at high-tech firms could more easily manage the high housing costs, but they also have more options for where they want to live (in other words, maybe not a tiny and remote farming town).
It is much more realistic that new businesses in these towns will be small, home-grown ventures. And tax money from Hawkins can help with that.
From yesteray's Whitman County Gazette:
Tekoa’s Rick Squibb, the lone announced challenger for the District 2 county commissioners seat, Monday withdrew from the race.
Squibb, a long-haul truck driver, said his company, Western Distributing, offered him a local truck driving job in Denver. The move forced the Republican to cancel his bid to unseat incumbent Greg Partch, Garfield Republican.
“I hated to do it; I do not want to move,” said Squibb. “But their offer was just too good to pass up. Plus I can be at home every night.”
Squibb was running on the platform that current commissioners have focused the county’s resources too much around Pullman at the expense of the rest of the county.
Though not opposed to the county’s financing of infrastructure at the Hawkins Companies’ state line strip mall site, Squibb questions such an investment’s return for residents who would have to commute to Pullman to take such jobs.
“For the students, this will be a great thing,” said Squibb. “But as high as fuel is, I don’t see how it benefits the people of our smaller towns.”
Squibb said the county needs to ensure that its resources are distributed to communities like Tekoa, Rosalia and St. John. It is vital, he added, that those towns have viable employment opportunities for their citizens and receive a fair amount of the county’s resources.
The current commissioners’ focus on Pullman, he added, leaves the incumbents vulnerable in this election.
“I hope someone comes forward to go against him,” said Squibb. “Because there are a lot of issues that need to be brought up.”
However, he said, those efforts around Pullman might make it difficult for a challenger to best the incumbents in the county’s largest voting base.
“The way things are lined up, I honestly don’t think I could have beaten him in Pullman,” Squibb admitted.
Squibb lost a 2004 bid to unseat Partch, who was then running for a second term.