November 25, 2014

Bringing a new look to county commission

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

With two new female county commissioners joining the six-member board, excitement and anticipation to serve the needs of McKenzie County are at the forefront of both women’s hearts. This is the first time in history that McKenzie County has elected not one, but two females, to serve as county commissioners. Kathy Skarda and Vawnita Best will begin their county representation in December.
“I’m very excited to learn from all the commissioners on the board,” said Skarda. “I’m extremely happy to be an advocate for the county and I value everyone’s voice, opinions, and thoughts on the growth and development taking place in McKenzie County.”
Skarda topped a four-person election race to serve on the county commission board with 1,308 votes, while Best earned her seat with 1,151 votes.
“It’s a huge honor and incredibly humbling that the people in the county are entrusting us to work on projects and focus on issues of theirs, on their behalf,” said Best. “The other commissioners have been very inviting, welcoming, and gracious to us. Everyone is focused on helping the county move forward in a positive way.”
With an ever-increasing development, new opportunities and challenges are facing counties in the oil patch. And McKenzie County has definitely seen its fair share of challenges in the past several years.
“I am looking forward to working with the new commissioners,” said Ron Anderson, Board of Commissioners chairman. “It can be a great benefit to any organization to have fresh eyes look at the problems you are facing. I encourage Vawnita and Kathy to jump in with both feet. I have made the statement before that it is time we have female county commissioners.”
“I really do believe that the previous generation is looking to the next generation to step in and take on some of these new challenges,” said Best. “It’s a privilege to serve the county that has raised not only myself, but my parents, my grandparents, and hopefully, my son.”
Linda Svihovec, McKenzie County auditor, Richard Cayko, McKenzie County Board of Commissioners vice chairman, and Anderson, are all excited for the new perspective and energy two new commissioners will bring to the table.
“The perspective of a woman’s ideas will be great,” said Cayko. “We welcome them and we’re excited.”
“I have often been the only woman at a meeting and never give it a second thought,” said Svihovec. “I was hoping we were past the point in our society that it was a big deal and needed to be noted, talked about, much less be newsworthy. The voters made their choice and I really don’t think their gender was the reason they were elected.”
 Both women are ready to take their elected seats and join the board to begin work on the current and future issues at hand facing McKenzie County.
“There’s a story to be told moving forward, in a unified way into the legislative session,” said Best. “I’m excited. There’s a lot going on here.”
“Moving McKenzie County into the future is not just the domain of the male gender,” said Anderson.  “Change is fine. We will work together to keep McKenzie County the same great place to live, only bigger.”