Newly elected Whitman County Commissioners are sworn into office

Newly elected Whitman County Commissioners are sworn into office
COLFAX, WA - Whitman County voters elected two new republican commissioners last November, and they were sworn into their positions Thursday morning.

Two newly elected Whitman County Commissioners were sworn in Thursday morning at the Superior Courtroom in Colfax. Republican Art Swannack will take Greg Partch’s position as the District One Commissioner.

“You don’t know how nervous you’re going to be until you get up there," said Swannack. "And all of the sudden you have your arm in the air and you’re going, ‘I swear to do the job,’ and then you’re trying to remember the words as the guy’s telling them to you.”

And republican Dean Kinzer will be the commissioner for District Two. He beat democratic incumbent Pat O’Neill in the November election.

“You know, I’m very honored that we have this opportunity to serve Whitman County and it’s exciting and I know it’s going to be challenging also,” said Kinzer.

Balancing the county’s budget is one of the challenges that the new commissioners will immediately face.

“They approved the 2013 budget with about a $200,000 deficit, which will either have to be back-filled by cash, reserve funds, or some cuts throughout the year,” said Kinzer.

The Hawkins Development is another. Neither Swannack nor Kinzer agreed with the previous commissioners’ decision to fund a private development with the county’s money, and both say they’ll work to amend the agreement to limit the amount that the county has to contribute.

“I haven’t been brought up to speed on that, we won’t be until we take our seats in office," said Kinzer. "And I think I’m planning to just take a very cautious, measured approach.”

The budget deficit and the Hawkins controversy will make this a difficult job for the newly elected officials, but they are both looking forward to learning the ropes.

“I’d say the biggest thing on our plate is learning all of the little bit of knowledge that you need to know about being a county commissioner to do a good job that we don’t know until we’re in there,” said Swannack.

Swannack and Kinzer will be joining District Three Commissioner Michael Largent, who is also a Republican.