Two of the three Lewis County commissioner seats — for Districts 1 and 2 — are up for grabs in November’s general election. With Gary Stamper’s District 3 seat solidified until December 2022, the possibility remains he could be serving alongside one, or even two, new colleagues in 2021.
Incumbents Edna Fund and Bobby Jackson are both seeking re-election for their District 1 and 2 seats, respectively. Fund will be challenged by Centralia resident Sean Swope, while Jackson is slated to run against Dr. Lindsey Pollock, of Winlock.
District 1’s jurisdiction covers the northern region of Lewis County, representing Adna, Galvin and Centralia. District 2’s reach includes Chehalis, then spans the southwestern portion of the county. Residents of Winlock, Pe Ell and Napavine all reside in District 2.
Commissioner District 1 — Edna Fund and Sean Swope
Commissioner Edna Fund, who took office in her first term as a Lewis County commissioner in 2012, says she still has work she hopes to accomplish driving her bid for re-election.
In her mind, the biggest issue that remains for the residents of Lewis County is that of flood mitigation.
“Flooding is one of our biggest issues that, if we can solve, will improve our economic development,” Fund said. “Knowing what we’ve been going through lately, I feel my expertise and background is absolutely necessary as we continue working on flood mitigation for the Chehalis Basin.”
She continued by pointing to the steps the county has made in its pursuit of a resolution for flood mitigation.
“I feel like we’ve come so far,” Fund said. “We have the Flood Control Zone District and I’m the chairperson of that. We’ve made a lot of progress in looking at what it would take for flood mitigation.”
The experience and the contacts Fund has gained since taking office is what she believes separates her from any other candidate. That, she says, makes her feel comfortable handling any issue that might arise.
She also pointed to her background working on the county budget and said she believes that will have an impact as the county looks to rebound from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming years.
“County budgets aren’t easy,” Fund said. “We’ll have new big issues when you think about budgets in the future, when you think about the businesses that were closed. If they were income generators for public dollars to be spent on law enforcement, etc. and those have to be looked at.”
Her challenger, Sean Swope, said his eyes are set on the future of Lewis County.
His drive to run for office was ignited by the opportunities he believes have been missed by the county in the past.
“You hear about things that are possibly going to come out here, for instance, like a Fred Meyer,” Swope said. “Then ultimately, see that fall apart. Then, you start hearing about why that happened and what caused it to happen, it kind of lights a little fire inside of you.”
Swope and his family moved back to Centralia in 2017 from the Seattle area. He graduated from Centralia High School in 1999 and he returned to raise his family in Lewis County.
He says he and his family were excited about the area’s potential.
“I think there’s great days ahead of us,” Swope said. “My family, we want to plant our roots, but we also want to see our area begin to grow and we want to see great things coming into our area.”
To help reach that potential, Swope cited many issues that he wants to address, including affordability for the middle class.
“Good, solid people live here,” Swope said. “We’ve got to begin to grow our housing, we’ve got to begin to grow our wage-earning jobs and we need to bring some good economic retail to the area that supports the area.”
Swope acknowledges that people throughout the county are starting to realize what the county could ultimately become with the right leadership. In his mind, he brings the quality of leadership that’s needed to move the county forward.
As of Wednesday, he’s raised $11,720 worth of campaign contributions according to Washington’s Public Disclosure Committee, more than any other county commission candidate.
“I’ve just always had an ability to bring people to the table and to garner relationships,” Swope said. “Not just trying to make Sean Swope’s agenda move forward … I feel in the sense of leadership, we’ve had some really remarkable people in city office positions, commissioner positions, but as far as getting the deal done, I think that’s where we’ve lacked.”
He continued by saying he hopes to always find a reason why something can be accomplished, rather than look for reasons why it can’t be. Swope pointed to building jobs through the Port of Centralia, bringing bigger businesses, such as Fred Meyer and Target, collaborating on issues and taking care of the area’s seniors as ways the county can reach, what he calls, its untapped potential.
“We can always find a reason why something isn’t right or why something isn’t going to work,” Swope said. “Why think that way? Why not instead think about the potential of what this could mean for not just our community now, but for our community 10 years from now. Where do we want to be 10 years from now?”
District 2 — Bobby Jackson and Dr. Lindsey Pollock
With a second term, District 2 Commissioner Bobby Jackson said he is hopeful he’ll be able to utilize everything he’s learned in his first four years on the job. He said the county’s made a large investment in him as a first-time commissioner and he’s hopeful he’ll be able to provide more return.
He said his decision to run for re-election was fueled by unfinished business.
“I realized that what I started I haven’t finished yet,” Jackson said. “The first four years are really about learning and growing with the position and trying to accomplish all you can with the hope that you can complete those things in a second term.”
Among the projects close to Jackson, he cited traffic congestion on the Rush Road exit in Napavine, the pending construction of Mickelson Parkway and the continued efforts toward the Benaroya Project in Winlock.
He also continues to work with the City of Winlock on a South County Industrial Park and also pointed toward workforce housing. He called the efforts concerning workforce housing “critical.”
“We see evidence of that taking place in developments like Grand Prairie in Winlock,” Jackson said. “With homes that are affordable for first-time home buyers, young couples that can afford to purchase a new home now rather than having to wait.”
Jackson also points to the people he serves as a reason he wants to remain committed to the office and pointed to work with the county human resources department to push for “reasonable and rapid” salary agreements. In the past, Jackson says the agreements would be halted for years. This year, however, they were accomplished in months.
“I believe that in order to change the community, we have to start with changing the culture from within first, which will usually result in better productivity and service to our citizens,” Jackson said.
Those citizens, whether they be from Pe Ell, Napavine or Winlock, are who Jackson says he’s “deeply committed to.” He also remains focused on the work surrounding Lewis County’s five-year strategic plan.
“I have been promoting and helping the county work towards developing a strategic plan for the next five years to help guide the county to greater efficiency and effectiveness in how we can better serve our local community,” Jackson said. “I want to be that guy that can get these things done for the citizens. That’s always going to be my goal.”
His opposition, Dr. Lindsey Pollock of Winlock, says she started going to Board of County Commissioners meetings two years ago. In that time, she’s observed the way the board conducts business and interacts with citizens and each other.
It was in her time spectating that she realized the need for a commissioner who was willing to be there for citizens.
“I’m quite used to everybody around me knowing my schedule,” Pollock said. “I have no problem sharing it.”
She added that she believes she can bring a sense of vision to the Board of County Commissioners if elected. She pointed to the ongoing work surrounding the aforementioned five-year plan and the desire to see that plan cover a longer span of time.
“That is not the timescale we need to be focusing on for an entire county moving forward,” Pollock said. “As we know, government works at a very deliberate pace and we need to be focused on where we want the county in 20 years.”
She continued by saying issues surrounding housing, the education system, broadband and safe public spaces should be tackled with a far-sighted strategy. Pollock stated she wants the county to not only be set up for success in the present, but in the future as well.
“We need to think, where are we going to be in 20 years and what do we want that to look like?” Pollock said.
Before she started practicing as a veterinarian in Lewis County, Pollock attended Washington State University before practicing in Centralia. She now operates her own practice at Rolling Hills Veterinary Clinic in Winlock.
She said leaving the area and returning will help her see issues from a unique perspective.
“Coming back is not a common thing,” Pollock said. “I bring that perspective of going out, taking a look around and coming back … We don’t need to recreate the wheel. We can look outside and see who else has tackled problems similar to ours, bring that information back and move forward that much quickly.”
According to Pollock’s campaign website, her endorsements include former 20th Legislative District Rep. Richard DeBolt, Chehalis Mayor Dennis Dawes and Centralia Mayor Susan Luond, among other elected officials from around the county.
When asked why she believes she’s right for the position, she put it simply.
“I know what it takes,” Pollock said. “I understand this is not a Monday through Friday, 9-5 job. It’s something that I am willing to basically pour myself into to work for a better community for all of us.”