Jim Johnson has been a steady, thoughtful and reasoned voice on the Walla Walla County Board of Commissioners.
Johnson, a Republican, has done a good job in his first term and has earned another four years.
But the decision to endorse Johnson was not easy. His challenger, Democrat Jared Frerichs, is also an excellent candidate.
Frankly, voters cannot go wrong with either candidate.
Frerichs currently teaches life skills at the Washington State Penitentiary. Before he moved back to the Walla Walla Valley, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard for a decade, including spending time in Iraq.
Frerichs’ is extremely bright and ambitious. His enthusiasm for life and giving back to the community is apparent when he talks about what he wants to do as a county commissioner.
Frerichs wants to bring manufacturing jobs to the Valley. For example, he believes it might make sense to explore tapping into the natural gas pipeline in the western part of the county to establish a refinery. He also wants to develop a gun range for the county and wants to promote a variety of recreations opportunities.
While these and other of his ideas are well worth exploring, they aren’t the major duties of a county commissioner. Economic development is the role of the Port of Walla Walla.
Johnson, who has been active in the community and Republican Party politics for four decades, understands the often mundane duties of a commissioner — and he embraces them.
Johnson, who earned his living as a CPA, focuses on the details of the budget. He believes taxes should be scrutinized in relation to potential benefits to taxpayers. He’s a prudent fiscal manager.
His steady hand has served in this community well for the five years or so he has served on the Board of Commissioners. (He was appointed to fill the months of Gregg Loney’s term before winning his current term.)
Frerichs concedes Johnson has done a good job, but he opted to run to give voters a choice. It’s not easy to run for office at any level. Frerichs deserves praise for running and doing so in such a principled way.
If Frerichs does not prevail in November, he needs to stay involved and seek another office — perhaps Port of Walla Walla commissioner — or another run for the county post in four years.
Johnson’s experience gets the nod in this election, though Frerichs’ thoughtful ambition to lead forward is noteworthy.