What specific issues in Umatilla County do you hope to address if elected?

The four most important issues I would like to address are the economy and how to get small businesses up and running again; the fact that help for the mentally ill, homeless, and addiction is almost nonexistent in Umatilla County; the high cost to citizens for water; additionally, I would address the high cost of rent in this area, which contributes to several other problems.

What do you bring to the Umatilla County table?

I bring years of experience in working with diverse groups to reach a specific goal. I also have a college education. My involvement in working on many fundraisers and organizing many relief efforts will be helpful as well. I have a diverse history in my employment, which has allowed me to learn about many businesses, entities and groups and allowed me to meet and work with many people in Umatilla County. I am a true native of Umatilla County, having been here all my life.

What is your plan to help Umatilla County recover from this pandemic? Are there helpful steps that haven’t yet been taken, in your opinion?

I would instigate campaigning for shopping local, applying for any more money available from other resources, and looking for grants to assist these business owners. Secondly, I believe that the county needs to be opened back up a bit faster. I would petition for a county ordinance concerning this issue. I also believe that the water rates are extremely high in several of our cities. This burden is on the taxpayers. I would inquire about grants to help these cities cover their expenses so the water rate could be brought down. I do not believe that some of these steps have yet been taken.

How will you work with the cities in Umatilla County to strengthen each and the county as a whole?

I would attend City Council meetings to hear about what each city’s needs and goals are, as well as meeting with the specific leadership teams in each of them.

To work well together, we must communicate. If each city prospers and thrives the county as a whole is strengthened. I would also research projects in progress and those that need attention. Hearing some of the citizens’ concerns is important in order to hear what they would like to see implemented in their respective towns. Strengthening the economy in each city strengthens the county, as well.

How important is collaboration with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to Umatilla County?

The CTUIR is vital to the economy of this county. As the largest employer here their continued success is very important. The CTUIR is also generous in their monetary input into the communities with their grants and gifts. A great working relationship with the CTUIR is extremely important.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 509-526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers health, social services and city government in Milton-Freewater, Athena and Weston in the Walla Walla Valley.