Grays Harbor County District 1 Commissioner Wes Cormier is proud of his accomplishments — so proud he has made them his flagship campaign talking point.
“I’m not running from my record, I’m running on my record,” Cormier said.
Cormier, of Elma, is seeking re-election on the heels of his first term. He’s opposed by challenger Jamie Nichols of Montesano.
Among his accomplishments, Cormier touts his success in removing permitting requirements for agriculture outbuildings, removing cleanup fees for victims of the January 2015 flooding and finding a variance to allow the Montesano community center to remain at Montesano City Hall for a year while organizers found a permanent home.
“When there’s a cause, I really go out of my way to make sure I can accommodate everybody that I can,” Cormier said.
Another accomplishment Cormier touts is what he says is added transparency to the board of county commissioners.
“I feel like I’ve brought transparency to a whole new level at the county,” Cormier said. “I hold a town hall meeting in every commissioner district every year, in numerous cities — that’s another way of reaching out to constituents. I created the hiring committee at the county to curtail any nepotism or favoritism. We hold night meetings because I proposed and passed that. We have a media Q&A session where all three commissioners are at the table and (the media) can ask us questions — that’s a great format that’s worked pretty well.”
Cormier attended college at Portland Community College and Grays Harbor College but he does not hold a degree. He and his wife have three children.
While the biggest responsibility of the county is the budget, Cormier, as of an Oct. 7 interview, said he was awaiting the outcome of ongoing contract negotiations for elected and non-elected employees before he could clearly state his position on the 2017 general fund budget.
Cormier says his budget for the 2016 general fund would have left the county in a better financial position had the other commissioners stayed with it. Throughout the year, when department heads and other elected officials asked commissioners to open the budget for addional employees, Cormier voted against hiring for positions that were not already included in the budget.
“I stuck to my budget, and I would make the argument that we’re expected to see $27 million in revenue, if we would have stuck to my budget as I did, we would be in the black right now,” Cormier said. “We create a budget for this reason. It’s a planning document, it’s a policy document for us to move forward, and unless it’s an emergency or there’s a new process change we think is a good idea — like allocating our excess timber revenue toward software — I think we should follow the budget. If local citizens wonder why budgets get out of hand and local jurisdictions, it’s because they don’t follow their budgets.”
“I could give you a laundry list of the positions I voted against filling because of the budget — all three of us proposed a budget and then we passed this budget,” he added. “Had we stayed to that budget, we’d be about $1 million up.”
As the commissioners proceed into budgeting for 2017, Cormier says no one department is off limits.
“Every budget is negotiable. Contained in a budget is software and supplies and all of these different line items. There is nothing that’s off limits,” he said. “And that’s (negotiations are) what you do when you meet with other department heads.”
Budget issues aside, the biggest issue facing the county is jobs, Cormier said.
“The biggest hurdle facing the county, I think, is always going to be jobs” he said.
Jobs are vital, he says.
“There are so many things that happen as the result of a job that are positive. It helps out so many different things,” he explained. “Whether it’s the medical system — someone with a job has medical —paying for consuming goods and services, jobs just help out so many different aspects of the county that I think, hands down, that is one of the most important things.”
But it’s not a matter of the county creating jobs, Cormier explained, it’s a matter of the county encouraging job creation through other steps.
“I don’t believe the government creates jobs. What we do is we pull money out of the private industry. How we can help in that area is by helping businesses navigate through some of our processes,” Cormier said.
In the end, Cormier is hoping voters will look at this accomplishments and grant him another four years as a commissioner.
“The best way to see how a commissioner will do in the future is to look at their past, and that’s why I’m running on my record as a county commissioner,” Cormier said.