The Odessa Record -

Meet the candidates: Marlene Kramer vs. Bill Pichon


August 22, 2019

Linda G Goodman

Marlene Kramer

General election on November 5, 2019

The general election to be held November 5 of this year is fast approaching. As already announced previously in The Record, a community forum will be held October 7, thanks largely to the efforts of local residents Patty Martin and Jackie Allen.

To help set the stage for the community forum, this week's issue of The Record begins a series of articles in which the candidates running for positions in town government have been interviewed and allowed to present their views on various topics of interest to Odessa's citizens. The community forum will then allow each candidate to explain in greater detail how he or she plans to address the issues facing the town's government officials. It will also allow the public some additional opportunities to question the candidates in an open but nevertheless structured environment.

This week the focus is on the two candidates for town council position #5, in which incumbent Marlene Kramer is facing challenger Bill Pichon.

Ballot Drop Box Locations:

Lincoln County Courthouse

450 Logan, Davenport

24 hr. Drive-up drop box

Elections desk drop

Mon-Fri 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Harrington City Hall

11 S. 3rd Street, Harrington

Drive-up drop box–24hrs.

Marlene Kramer

Marlene (nee Schorzman) Kramer currently holds the council member #5 position and is running for re-election. An Odessa native, Kramer says she is running because she cares about the community and wants to see Odessa return to the sense of civic pride for which it has long been known.

When her husband Myron Kramer, long-time Odessa teacher and coach, passed away in 2016, she was asked by several townspeople whether she would be moving to be closer to her only child Scott Kramer, who with his wife and children is a resident of Spokane. She responded that she was staying right where she was, i.e. in the home she and Myron had shared and in which Scott had been raised. Even though a lovely mother-in-law space is available at Scott's home, she says she wants to remain in Odessa and give back to the town that has given her and her family so much.

In addition to serving on the town council, she has volunteered in some capacity at every Deutschesfest since its inception in 1971. She is a member of the board of the Odessa Historical Society and also actively involved as a member of the Old Town Hall Rejuvenation Society.

She says she is happy to have served on the town council at a time when much work has been accomplished on upgrades of equipment, replacement of deteriorating water lines and street repairs. Approximately $4 million in grants has been awarded to Odessa for infrastructure improvements in the past few years.

Near and dear to Kramer's heart are efforts to promote pride in one's community. She has been tapped to spearhead the council's efforts to clean up neglected properties by helping owners find resources for achieving compliance with town ordinances or, in the event of blatant and persistent non-compliance, getting council's approval to initiate legal processes to remedy areas that pose health or safety hazards.

She says she has been gratified to see some young people in recent years go off to college and return to Odessa, some to take over family farms, others to pursue other professions or start new businesses. She says she would like to see the council do more to encourage business startups and to promote existing businesses.

Marlene Kramer wants to encourage everyone to attend the community forum on October 7 to meet all the candidates and hear what they have to say. She also encourages everyone who is eligible to register to vote and then to be sure to mail in their ballots by election day, November 5.

Bill Pichon

Bill Pichon is a relative newcomer to Odessa. In fact, readers may remember an interview with him and his wife Vikki in the March 15, 2018 edition of The Odessa Record by Vivianne Poe, a some-time contributor to this newspaper.

Pichon was born and raised in Illinois up to the age of 14 when he moved with his parents and siblings to the Seattle area. He met Vikki when both were teenagers, and they have been married since 1990. They have one son and one daughter, and now several grandchildren.

For 27 years, Pichon was the maintenance supervisor at an apartment complex, overseeing 14 technicians who performed various maintenance activities. Now he is mostly involved in buying distressed real estate, improving it and reselling it.

The Pichons had been shopping online for a vacation home east of the Cascades and found Odessa to be to their liking. They purchased one of the older homes in Odessa, built in the early 1900s, and got to work bringing it up to cuurent codes and installing modern conveniences. Since he and Vikki moved to Odessa from Sultan, Wash. (near Monroe), many members of their extended families have followed them here, buying homes and settling in. In fact, Bill and Vikki's "vacation home" in Odessa has now become their year-round home. And because Odessa is now home, Bill says he wants to become more involved in local activities and town government.

From attending town council meetings for the past several months, he says he has seen discrepancies in how delinquent charges for water/sewer service are handled. He says he'd like to see a written guide outlining when charges that are in arrears must be paid by the new owners of a property or are forgiven.

With the sewer system in Odessa now 20 years old, much of the equipment in use is reaching or has reached the end of its life span. The council recently agreed to take out a low-interest loan to purchase new grinder pumps to replace those that are failing on a regular basis. Pichon would like to see the council raise water/sewer rates to pay for the necessary replacement equipment rather than taking out loans.

The costs of maintaining the community center are not being met by what is charged in the way of rental fees, he says, and should not be a constant drain on the town budget.

In fact, he adds, most of the properties that the town currently maintains ought to be under private ownership, since the town cannot afford to keep maintaining them.

Neglected properties might see better compliance with the nuisance ordinance if a system of rewards were to be instituted, he says, rather than using a punitive approach, or perhaps employing a little of each.

Terrie Schmidt-Crosby

Bill Pinchon

A thorough look at town ordinances is in order, Pichon says, to clear up contradictory language. Ordinances related to animal issues in particular are quite inconsistent regarding what is allowed and what is not.

Overall, Pichon's approach, if he is elected, would be to encourage the council to be more pro-active and less reactive, i.e., attempting to anticipate future issues and deal with them calmly rather than reacting to situations already in crisis mode.

Between now and election day, Pichon says he plans to be available to anyone wishing to ask questions, debate issues or just visit with him each Friday morning at 9 a.m. at Odessa's newest downtown business, You're Grounded Coffee, located on the southeast corner of the intersection of First Avenue and Division Street.


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