Jamie Nichols of Montesano is hoping voters will elect her to serve as District 1 Grays Harbor County commissioner. Nichols is vying to defeat incumbent Commissioner Wes Cormier.
Nichols is basing her candidacy on job creation, and the fact that she will strive to have an open-door policy once she’s in office.
“I want to have one day a week where it’s ‘Coffee with a commissioner,’ where you can come down, sit down and have a drink of coffee and explain to me what’s going on, and we’ll work a solution together,” Nichols said of her open-door policy plans. “Obviously, I want to have a county cell phone available so people can call anytime.”
The former owner of a tattoo shop in Elma (“people don’t have a lot of discretionary income in Grays Harbor County,” she said, explaining why the shop closed), Nichols says she’d use the resources already available throughout the county in order to spur job creation.
“At Grays Harbor College, we could go down and talk to the placement office and say ‘There are positions available at the county — if you take this math class, or do this other thing, then you could get this job.’ It would be nice to put our community in positions that are here at home and in need of being filled,” Nichols said. “Good paying jobs that are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., because everybody wants one of those.”
Positions within the county will be opening in the not-too-distant future, Nichols forecasts, and as a commissioner she would encourage cross training with those currently holding positions throughout the various county departments.
“My biggest concern are all of the employees that are going to be retiring from the county. They do not have replacements. These are people who have worked at the county for 30-plus years and all of that knowledge is going to be walking out of the door. That is a huge concern for me,” Nichols said. “We need to have employees who are already working at the county cross trained, to make sure employees who are in those departments are moving up to the positions and working with the employees who will be retiring.”
Like the other candidates vying for a seat as county commissioner this election season, Nichols identified the general fund budget as the biggest issue facing the county. While not specific about how to ameliorate the fiscal problems the county faces, Nichols said she would aim to insulate public safety from any severe budget cuts.
“I want my children and the public to be safe and not have to stress out or worry about what could happen. We need those first responders,” Nichols said. “I don’t want to be responsible for making the decision to cut funding to them and then something happens and I have that on my conscience.”
Nichols suggests holding a public forum to discuss what the public would be comfortable cutting.
A proposed project that would ship crude oil by rail through Grays Harbor County has faced contentious debate, and the race for District 2 commissioner has made the issue a discussion point in the current races for commissioner.
While Nichols agrees it wouldn’t be a county commissioner decision to prohibit the project, she did state that she “would not like to see it.”
In 2007, Nichols moved to Grays Harbor County. Growing up, her family owned property on the Satsop River, and Nichols became enamored. She and her husband made it a point to move here when they could.
She looks forward to building relationships with other elected officials once she’s in office.
“Relationships with the city mayors and all the other county officials — we’re at a time where we just need to put aside all of the BS and just focus on what the county needs,” Nichols said. “We need to focus on the issues at hand. If we take all the drama out of politics, we could actually get something done.”