Keith Goehner comments on 12th Dist. Victory

Keith Goehner comments on his win, future in legislature
By Gary Bégin
The final result was impressive: Chelan County Commissioner Keith Goehner (R) defeated independent Ann Diamond by more than 13 percentage points, or more than 6,000 votes out of nearly 50,000 cast on November 6, for the seat vacated by Cary Condotta for 12th State Representative.
"I'm grateful to the voters and look forward to representing the whole district, which is much larger geographically than just Chelan County," Goehner said.
He said it will be a "steep learning curve" but "looks forward to the challenge to learn as much as I can."
Before he takes his seat in Olympia he stated in an exclusive interview with NCW Media, parent company of the Cashmere Valley Record, Lake Chelan Mirror and Leavenworth Echo, that he still needs to make a few "minor changes" on the county level before he tackles "bigger issues" such as the recent carbon tax referendum defeated by the voters.
Goehner acknowledges the carbon tax initiative is not going quietly into the night, stating the state "will still have to deal with it."
In a previous interview with this reporter, Goehner had this to say about a variety of issues after 16 years serving the county stating he has an advantage over many in the legislature because of his county commission experience, "There are not many in the legislature who have county experience and understand how their actions impact the functions of local government. Unfunded mandates are not supposed to exist, but each session brings more expectations of new services without funding to carry out the new laws," he said.
Goehner's vision extends to the future, "There are several areas that need to be focused on because of their long-term effects. Forest health issues are getting a lot of attention, but the work that needs to be done is slow in materializing. To avoid catastrophic fires like we have seen, we must be aggressive in reducing fuels and thinning trees for a healthier and more productive forest. Even though the Hirst issue was resolved, water availability will continue to be an issue of great concern for the 12th District. As we continue to grow and attract new businesses, we must assure that water supply will be predictable. We need to continue to pursue storage as an option for water availability," he said.
Because agriculture and tourism are the main "industries" in the 12th District, Goehner said the key to helping them stay healthy, "is to not burden a business with taxes and regulations that impede its development and expansion. Agriculture has been and continues to be the cornerstone of the 12th District's economy so it is critical to ensure labor supply is sufficient to harvest crops in a timely manner. Recent decisions at the state level relating to agriculture have created more burdens and obligations for farmers. There is still great potential for expanding tourism, but the hospitality industry needs to be encouraged to plan for more housing opportunities for guests. We need to address traffic flow issues to accommodate the increase in tourism-related traffic."
Anyone living in Chelan County is aware of the housing shortage about which Goehner said, "Affordable housing continues to be a topic of concern, but the state continues to modify standards that add costs to the price of construction. ... there should be allowances for greater utilization of the land. The 'one size fits all' of GMA (Growth Management Act) has proven that there are ways that we can accomplish the intent of the act while taking advantage of creative planning opportunities. I would support tax incentives and bonus densities, in certain situations, to encourage lower cost housing."
Regarding the marijuana industry, Goehner said, "The marijuana Industry has created zoning which was not anticipated, but it has generated significant revenue for the state. Within the district, there has not been much revenue returned to cities and counties even though local jurisdictions are left to deal with the negative impacts. As the commercial aspects of the industry evolve, I am hopeful that the conflicts we see today will be resolved."
Regarding the recent Hirst Decision amendment, Goehner, "The mitigation was helpful, but there will still be court challenges to determine who has senior rights and municipal supply."
Goehner feels he has allies in Olympia that will protect the 12th District family and rural way of life, stating, "There are numerous individuals who are our allies to protect rural lifestyles. ... it is always interesting to see how similar the 12th District is to other rural districts irrespective of the East-West divide. Rural areas share values and mindsets that the more urban districts have a hard time relating to."
He also feels there should be a rapprochement with those on the other side of the isle, "... I will make every effort to seek out those that I may initially disagree with. Respectful building of relationships and clear communication are critical to being effective. Olympia has become increasingly polarized and on key issues, resolution must have meaningful dialogue. There will be times when there will be a need to agree to disagree, but it needs to be done in a manner that does not alienate the other person. I hope to develop relationships on both sides of the aisle," Goehner said.
He said last week, "I look forward to working with (the other 12th District Representative) Mike Steele," he said, "I think we should work well together."
His current county responsibilities include membership on the Washington Counties Risk Pool - Executive Committee; Skillsource; the Regional Water Resource Committee; the Upper Valley Parks Service Area; the NCW Realtors Governmental Affairs Committee; Rivercom; the Chelan County Fair Board; WSAC; the Wenatchee Watershed Planning; the Solid Waste Council; the Chelan County Disability Board; and the Health Board.

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