Below are some suggested questions to ask your county commissioner candidates about their primary duties as commissioners—policy-making, budgeting and management.
A local government’s core responsibilities are to provide the essential services of public safety, roads, and health while maintaining an environment amendable to citizen life and livelihood. The questions below are designed to help citizens recognize whether candidates for county commissioner support individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.
For a list of candidates’ email addresses and phone numbers, click here.
The primary duty of a county commissioner is to create and implement policy. The following questions identify a commissioner’s priorities and the methods by which they hope to accomplish those goals.
- What policy changes or investments are necessary to encourage broader employment?
- What one part of county government would receive more attention if you were elected?
- Do you plan to promote any changes to existing taxes? If so, why?
- Are county land-use regulations and permitting processes doing enough to assure the public interest or are they too onerous?
- Should the county be providing resources to the International Council for Local Environment Initiatives or the Puget Sound Partnership? (More details here.)
- What do you see as the most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects in the county?
- Should the county be encouraging building and development?
- Should county commissioners write and adopt specific policies, or should the details of these policies be crafted and implemented by boards, commissions or outside specialists?
A second important duty of county commissioners is to construct, approve and implement a budget. Here are some questions to establish their experience with budgeting and their stance on issues that may arise during the budgeting process.
- What is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets?
- What are your views on the county’s current level of public debt? (More details here.)
- If new resources were available, what one area of county services would you feel most needs additional resources?
- Should any part of the county budget be shielded from cuts? And if so, which area?
- What element of the county’s government is most effective, and why?
- Are county taxes too high, about right or pleasantly low?
County commissioners are also responsible for the county’s workforce. Below are some questions that inquire into views about staffing priorities and public administration in general.
- What do you think is an appropriate ratio of local government employees to constituents? (More details here.)
- When managing public agencies, is it better to have more employees at a modest wage or few employees at a wage high enough to attract quality applicants?
- Will you require county employees to pay the union as a condition of employment?
- Would citizens get more effective services at a better rate if more functions of the county were accomplished by contracting with private providers?
To learn more about the policy issues surrounding these questions, see our Freedom in 39 Counties publications: Taxes & Spending and Property Rights. Both offer excellent background information on why these policy issues are crucial to sustaining our freedom as individual citizens and communities.
For a printable list of the questions, click here.