Apples, Wine and Winston Churchill with Yakima County Commissioner Amanda McKinney

Yakima Washington County Commissioner Amanda McKinney is a force, she is and she talks and more important she listens. And, being from Washington, she knows her apples and wine, so listen to how you can get the best from Washington in your pie.

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Amanda McKinney: When you talk about the most important thing, it is water. Water, water. you know water. whiskey’s for drinking water is for fighting over. And that remains true to this day. You know what your county commissioners do? I think that was a number one comment is that when I started running for office, no one really knew what a county commissioner did.

If they know we’re we’re having good governance. I think it’s the you can tell by the level of frustration. And if they’re complaining about something, if they feel like they actually can come to you and complain. I consider that success. Most people will sit back and yell at the TV or the radio. But even though I love the temperament, a roaring and the temperament that probably fits better, the one I quote more often is Winston Churchill.

He’s a bulldog. And, I really appreciate the directness. and at the end of the day, this isn’t about feelings. it’s about getting results. so I tend to kind of lean more that way. but I try to be charming, like Reagan.

David Martin: Welcome to the Good government show. I’m your host, Dave Martin. On this episode, we’re talking with Yakima County, Washington County Commissioner Amanda McKinney and we talk apples, cosmic crisps. That’s the newest and some say best apple. If you like a good apple pie or to make a charcuterie plate, be prepared to take notes. You know, Washington apples. That’s apple country.

We recorded this conversation in the fall, so most of what was being harvested then is probably already on your table. Yakima County is farm country. So we talk agriculture and wine. Washington wine. Try some. Why did we also talk about community engagement and how to listen to the people? So join me after the break and listen to what Amanda McKinney has to say about wine and local agriculture.

That’s coming up.

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Welcome to the good Government Show. Today I have a guest with me from the state of Washington. So if you could, introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from and what your title is.

Amanda McKinney: Absolutely. Well, Amanda McKinney, I’m a Yakima County, commissioner from Washington state. We’re on the sunny side east of the Cascades. The sunny side. the sunny side. And nice. I usually say sunny and sane side. We’re just about getting solutions with little resources. we like to like solutions. Solutions oriented. but we are, highly educated.

so our county specifically grows, apples and hops and grapes. yeah. All right, let’s talk.

David Martin: Yeah. Washington apples.

Amanda McKinney: Oh, yes.

David Martin: What are the best apples?

Amanda McKinney: Okay, well, you and I have the privilege of speaking, earlier, but we got to talk about the Cosmic Crisp. So the cosmic crisp is all the rage. they are so sweet and tart and crispy. But the most important thing about them. Yeah, if you like charcuterie boards or fondue, you can slice these apples and they will not brown.

So you can do your work in advance of your guests coming over and get it all laid out. And so you can absolutely, recognize one from afar. And I highly recommend anyone who wants to do their work ahead of time and be patient. Cosmic crisp.

David Martin: is this a new apple variety?

Amanda McKinney: Yes, it is. How old are they? well, they take some time to design. and so this is, I think the second year they’ve been on the market. Oh, really? And Washington State, University helps develop these in partnership with our growers. And so, you won’t be able to grow cosmic Chris, if you are outside of Washington for about ten more years.

So you’re holding on, Well, we’re smart, I guess. we do designer apples, and then after a while, we do let the rest of the market across the world. Okay? Yeah.

David Martin: Back into Tosh Fuji apples. Any of these?

Amanda McKinney: Fuji is now Macintosh app. my favorite apple, by the way. But a macintosh does not ship and pack. Well, all right, which is why, it’s usually on your backyard tree that you would have on the back 40, as it were. And you would pick that and make applesauce and eat it fresh. But it doesn’t shelf life and, gets pretty mushy.

David Martin: So if you’re making apple pie, what do you use?

Amanda McKinney: I actually use Granny Smith’s. Okay. Yes, I do, because. Yes. All right. and I’m a big fan of adding a little bit of caramel, too, because if you’re gonna eat it, you. I’m a go big, go big.

David Martin: Do you always have apples at your house of eaters?

Amanda McKinney: Yes, absolutely. It’s Washington. It’s always on the counter.

David Martin: Is it? Is it really? I mean, you know, you’re Washington and apples are sort of synonymous together.

Amanda McKinney: Absolutely.

David Martin: Yes. Yeah. Are they growing apples all over the state?

Amanda McKinney: Not all over the state. Where the sun usually shines is where we do. If you’re on the sunny side, I’m on the sunny side. Yeah.

David Martin: what other apples are you growing in Washington?

Amanda McKinney: oh, gosh. Galas Honeycrisp are very popular. Okay, and, you know, it really, really is. There are a lot of designer apples, and pink ladies are also a really delicious one. Designer apple, designer apples. All right, well, we design them. So a lot of folks probably don’t know this. They actually can store for a year in cold storage.

Okay. And this is really incredible because it helps us with supply chain issues and pricing. And we can make sure that we are only entering the market in good times. But it helps with schools, rural schools across the US. We also have something called the Rocket Apple. And you might have seen that on the store shelves. Rocket apples are awesome for little kiddos.

For schools. They’re like the size of a, you know, the little tangerine, mandarin oranges. Real small. But how many mothers out there you give your child an apple and they take, you know, four bites and then they leave it there. So the rocket apple is designed to be just fit in in the in the palm of a ten year old child perfectly.

And they eat it and it’s gone. And then you don’t have to waste the rest.

David Martin: So do you come from a farming apple growing background?

Amanda McKinney: Yes I do, yes. My family actually, farmed for pears and apples and Timothy hay and alfalfa.

David Martin: So you’ve been picking apples and eating.

Amanda McKinney: Yeah, when I grew up in Cherry Town. So I grew up in beautiful, sunny The Dalles, Oregon, which is a beautiful city right on the Columbia River in the gorge there between Oregon and Washington. And we are, Cherry City, USA there. Now we have to differentiate to these are eating cherries. So I don’t want upset anyone listening who might be somewhere else where there’s tart cherry.

Yes, but we grow, beautiful being cherries. some of them are just so deep, dark red. And you bite.

David Martin: Into those cherries in a bag at the grocery.

Amanda McKinney: That is washed into Washington and some, northern Oregon. Yes.

David Martin: So you’ve been. This is something that in this culture of agriculture or something you’ve been immersed.

Amanda McKinney: In absolutely your whole life. Yes.

David Martin: Do grow. Do you have a farm or any kind of.

Amanda McKinney: No. My grandparents actually, now had just, their home had a couple of, a small orchard there. But on my, my husband’s side of the family, actually, in the beautiful Yakima Valley where we live, his family were one of the first settlers to come in and actually start planting, hops and apples. And there is still a family farm working today and operating now.

David Martin: Complete disclosure we had dinner last night. Yes. Some other, Washington, folks. And you turn up your nose to the wide list. So tell me about Washington, and.

Amanda McKinney: Why I am always is remarkable to me where you go. And there are very few Washington wise on menus and and Washington actually has more wines rated higher than California. and so I always like to talk about Washington wine. And so if you don’t if you aren’t familiar with Washington wine, go to your, your local wine shop and absolutely demand it because you don’t know what you’re missing.

David Martin: So what do you what do you what’s the last, Washington wine you open?

Amanda McKinney: Oh, gosh. Well, there’s some really, really nice ones. and they can be quite spendy, I will say, but they’re worth it. But, you know, you’ve got, Bledsoe. I don’t know if anyone knows Drew Bledsoe and knows the name football. Yeah, yeah, yeah. he’s got a beautiful winery, in Eastern Washington, but there are so many, local wines, that are out there.

And it’s really fantastic to get, year to year differences. Yeah. And I really like the reds or whites.

David Martin: Right.

Amanda McKinney: We have all, we have all, we don’t do as much as the, you know, the Chardonnays as much, but lots of, rieslings white blends. but there are reds, the the beautiful reds that come out. there’s Cab Franc. You’re going to have the cab sob, you’re going to have Merlot. just gorgeous. Gorgeous Washington wines.

David Martin: And you said, I think Yakima was the largest ag producer in the state.

Amanda McKinney: Yes. Yeah. Yakima County number one ag producer. We have about $10 billion in ag production that comes out of Washington state. and the the Yakima Basin, produces just shy of half of that $5 billion. And it’s mostly apples, hops, wine grapes. we also grow. And this is a fun fact. We grow more mint. so when you have toothpaste and you’re thinking of brushing your teeth, I hope.

David Martin: It’s ice.

Amanda McKinney: Cream. Yeah. No, it’s toothpaste. Actually. So, the Yakima Valley grows an awful lot of mint that goes in toothpaste. Really? Yeah.

David Martin: Why toothpaste?

Amanda McKinney: I have no idea. I should know the answer to that question. Probably because.

David Martin: Because that’s honestly.

Amanda McKinney: Because it’s a consistent supply. So if you’re going to if you’re going to sell mint, it probably was a stroke of genius to try to get toothpaste companies to take on the mint flavor.

David Martin: And you said, hop several times.

Amanda McKinney: Hops, hops. I always say we’re from if you want to visit the Aqua Valley, we grow your apples. We grow your beer. We grow your wine. Where?

David Martin: Where do the hops go?

Amanda McKinney: Where do they go? Yes. Oh, all over the world. In fact, we produce more hops. And even Belgium now. So. And really, it’s, it’s it’s gotten to be just like apples where there’s designer hop varieties now, and if you go out to your local, breweries, you might have a local brewery, but they’re probably getting their hops, from the Yakima Valley.

And they come and visit and they I mean, the amount of aromatics that and the thought that goes into it, but they will design hops to come up with a flavor, that is, is requested by a brewery. Okay.

David Martin: So with all of this agriculture.

Amanda McKinney: What? Yes. It’s beautiful to live there, I’m sure.

David Martin: What are the challenges there as a county commissioner, what are the challenges you have in your county?

Amanda McKinney: Oh, gosh. Well, particularly in our state, our state unfortunately, has been, not, as conducive environment, not created conducive environment. AG and I think we’re seeing this across the nation with inflationary costs. But we have, a strong pursuit of some real, some real, quote, green energy, restrictions, that are coming down on our producers and growers.

It makes it very hard for them to operate, water treatment, labor, obviously is something that is hugely critical specifically for us. We rely on migrant workers. We actually, Washington state, utilizes 30% of the H-2a workers that are coming into the country, and our valley specifically up and down, you might have 45,000 people working in central and eastern Washington alone during our growing seasons, and that is reliable workforce that we need to get more reliability.

all right.

David Martin: You say you talked about the restrictions. What are you doing to help.

Amanda McKinney: Advocating for the passing of our farm bill, is really important because in there we talk about, reforming H-2a. it is incredibly important for us to discuss, conversion for, all of the heavy equipment to electric. Okay. the technology isn’t there. The technology is absolutely not there. And it is it is not there. It is not feasible.

And it’s not financially feasible for small operators to consider going out, and buying some kind of an electric, electric battery operated, swatter. You know, these are the types of things that’s hey, it cuts. I think that’s okay.

David Martin: I don’t I never, you know, farms, though.

Amanda McKinney: Well, let me tell you. So authors have come a long way since I started driving one. But, you know, the biggest challenge. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Bale hay, all those things. All right. they used to come with a cup holder, which was the bells and whistles, but these things are G.P.S. locate now, and you can set it and forget it for the most part.

And probably someone could listen to your podcast. Well, you good? Yeah. Show. Yeah. All right. We all know, but I think it’s really bringing clarity to our state and federal representatives about what is the actual ability for people to implement. It’s one thing to say, great, we want to have electric, operated vehicles, and farm equipment, but the technology truly isn’t there.

And you are not able to if it isn’t reliable, we aren’t going to use it. If you have to get a crop off the field, off the tree, you have a very condensed timeline. Weather is always something, not only weather, but labor. We don’t have time to wait for something to charge or it’s not going to even last on a charge.

You have people who are working 24 hour day operations, and they don’t have time for unreliability because that costs money and we have got to get the fruit off the trees.

David Martin: You have, yes, in a timely.

Amanda McKinney: Fashion, in a timely fashion.

David Martin: What else is going on in Yakima?

Amanda McKinney: well, right now we’re preparing for the end of harvest. So the last bit of Honeycrisp are being picked right now. Okay. Yeah. And, the wine grapes are coming off. and honestly, what we’ve been really doing is focusing on instead of using seasonal workers are really trying to keep people, in the community and working year round.

And so finding ways to help have them work on the farm, to keep them year round is really important. Broadbent, I would say, is massively important to where we’re trying to use, ways to have technology be out in the fields. you’d be really surprised to learn how much technology has really impacted, product and productivity.

David Martin: How are you helping to get broadband expanded?

Amanda McKinney: Well, what was really critical for us is when we had our Arpa dollars come in. I’m a new young ish commissioner. I’ll say, and I very well, I think it was really important for me seeing, growing up and seeing technology, kind of passed by, rural America. I really put a value on that and have young children in school and seeing them utilize iPads and knowing that we need to have that same technology out in the field, especially when we’re talking about, moisture content.

We’re really trying to to grow better products, and, and be more efficient and that we have to have technology to do that. And so we’ve got these great universities who are coming up with it.

David Martin: But if we don’t, and especially if you’re genetically altering the fruit to get it, make it better. Yes.

Amanda McKinney: Well and and it’s it’s growing. And unfortunately we also have to deal with drought conditions. so for me most critically, is working on water resources. And I know that there are a lot of people right now in the U.S. who are working in farming. And you’ll nod your head up and down right now when you talk about the most important thing, it is water, water, water.

Right. you know, water, whiskey’s for drinking water is for fighting over. And that remains true to this day. And and it doesn’t seem that we’re getting, as much of it in the form of snowpack. And in our particular case in Yakima, our, our water is actually strictly comes from snowpack. And so when the snowpack is not as it once was or coming, in the form of snow, and the runoff is coming at a different time, we need to be able to capture that.

So water storage for us is a critical component to how we’re going to survive and continue to feed the nation.

David Martin: You said, youngest county commissioner, how long have you been a county commissioner?

Amanda McKinney: This is my third year.

David Martin: Third year? Yeah. First and first election.

Amanda McKinney: Yeah. I well, not technically, but I won’t go into it. I had to do two elections to get where I am, but. Yes. Yeah, two elections in three years.

David Martin: You lost twice that.

Amanda McKinney: I got no, no, I only win.

David Martin: Okay, okay. What were you doing professionally before you?

Amanda McKinney: I had actually been in real estate finance. Okay. Yeah. So my family, of course, farming family background. And my father actually was in law enforcement. All right. But for me, been in involved in real estate finance and and really that was the are again, our driving economy has always been and it’s been very clear did a lot of, philanthropic volunteerism, through local service clubs and really just wanted to get involved in bring kind of that business, that young professional sense to the county commissioners Board.

I think a lot of folks.

David Martin: On side of the.

Amanda McKinney: Board, I am not no, no, no. And lady never reveals. But I will say that as of the last election, I am no longer the youngest on the commissioners board, but definitely I was second woman.

David Martin: I would say, hey, kid.

Amanda McKinney: He’s he. Oh, he’s so good. Better. Yes, I do sometimes, but he’s lovely. Okay.

David Martin: Yeah. What would you say to to younger people about getting involved in county government or government in general?

Amanda McKinney: Know what your county commissioners do? I think that was a number one comment is that when I started running for office, no one really knew what a county commissioner did. What’s interesting to me? Absolutely. Yeah. Yes. But that was I think I had a little more, inclination to know and understand because I was involved in permitting, planning real estate, water.

David Martin: What surprised you about the job when you took it? Oh, we’re not quite ready for.

Amanda McKinney: Oh, gosh. No. I think what surprised me is how well I was prepared to do the job because of my career. I really actually anticipated that there would be a lot more difficulty in the uptake, and that was not the case. All right. Yeah. So that allowed me to be more proactive than I anticipated I would be.

David Martin: I that’s a good benefit. Certainly. Yeah. All right. We have a questionnaire. We’re going to go all right let’s do it. This is that was the easy part.

Amanda McKinney: My favorite colors.

David Martin: Blue. Yeah okay. Well you know what I’m not quite all right. So you’re a county commissioner three years in, from where you sit on the Yakima County Commission to find good government.

Amanda McKinney: Oh, one that actually has results that the people asked for. I think that’s the biggest thing, is sometimes you get people in a room and they assume what the public actually wants. and so I do a very good job of going out and actually talking to people to where they are. So I try to spend as little time in the office, and I think a lot of people would do well to do the same thing.

David Martin: How do you judge your success or your lack of success?

Amanda McKinney: The grocery store aisle? yeah. If I get stopped on the grocery store aisle and if it is a thank you for what you do, or thumbs up, you’re on the right track. Which is what I get a lot of, Then I know I’m on the right track.

David Martin: Do you go to the same grocery store.

Amanda McKinney: Or do I set up? I actually do go. I’m a creature of it. I do go to the same grocery store. but I will say, what does.

David Martin: It take you to do your grocery shopping?

Amanda McKinney: Well, it does take some time. In fact, there will be times where my husband, when he hears us, will laugh. Is that if I just need one more thing for the dinner pot, he’ll say, let me go. Please, because I want to eat today. But no, it’s my favorite trick is to go to the grocery store aisle and if and I will frequently get stopped, multiple times going down different aisles.

I know I love it, I actually like that is how I know. number one is, am I being public enough in my out there educating enough? I always take the opportunity, whenever possible, to proactively speak on radio and television and using social media and going out to people’s places of businesses and going out as much as possible to talk about, hey, you tell me.

I like to ask a lot of questions. How are things going? How do you feel about the state of things right now? Is there something I can do for you? I frequently give out my cell phone number. Yeah. which I think is something that most commissioners kind of, you know, had protected their time. I it is the highest form of community service that I can think of.

And so there’s 25 hours a day, as far as I can tell, right? Yeah. do.

David Martin: You sometimes have to go? Oh, no, I have to change out of my sweatpants and take off my hat, and I.

Amanda McKinney: no, in fact, I will, and I like to be whatever. I’m dressed, and it doesn’t matter. I mean, you’re part of the community. And really, I think that was the benefit of not being in public office. I’ve only been a member of the community and been able to really walk, with the folks who are on the receiving end of these policy decisions.

David Martin: So how do the people know your constituents, your voters, your citizens? How do they know if they’re getting good government? And how should they hold you accountable if they’re not?

Amanda McKinney: They they if they know we’re we’re having good governance. I think it’s that you can tell by the level of frustration. And if they’re complaining about something, if they feel like they actually can come to you and complain, I consider that success okay. Most people will sit back and yell at the TV or the radio, but they will.

David Martin: But there’s something to ask the social media.

Amanda McKinney: I think what I learned right away is that by making myself accessible, that is absolutely the most critical thing. People want to know that they can access you and that you will pick up their phone call and hear them come to their place of business and listen to what their issue is. And then what’s your follow up? You know, actually having them be a part of the solution and following up.

David Martin: So where you started down this, if they’re not getting what they want or what they think they should be doing, what should they do?

Amanda McKinney: Number one, tell me about it. Yeah. And then tell a whole bunch of other people about it so that I’m hearing it constantly. Nobody wants to have someone talking negatively. And for me it is really critical. I care. I want people to be sitting in a room and my name is brought up and they say she actually listens.

And she did something to help me. And if they’re not saying that, then I’m not doing my job, which means I shouldn’t be there.

David Martin: Well, you’ve been there for three years. we’ll be there for three more.

Amanda McKinney: no, I’ve got, on this term. I’ve got, three more years and then. Yeah, my I’ve got this is the first year of a four year term, and I served two years of a previous four year term. And that’s what I don’t want to get into the weeds, but. Yeah. so three more years.

David Martin: So as an elected official, you’ve you’ve been at this for a few years now. What would you like people to know about how government works or doesn’t work? From an insider’s perspective.

Amanda McKinney: It is only as good as the public coming and being a part of actually reaching out. I’ve actually talked to other commissioners who haven’t taken the time to talk to their city council members or commissioners who haven’t gone upstream and talked, to their local legislators or their congressional representatives. People want to hear from you. And I think, unfortunately, in the absence of hearing from the public and hearing about those critical stories, then people will come up with their own solutions to a perceived problem.

And very rarely does that go well, because so and I’ve and I should say I’ve been in real estate finance and I went through Dodd-Frank. I went through, the financial crisis. what came of that was, I think a whole lot of legislators trying to solve a problem without talking to the people who were actually involved. And and you can tell.

People can tell. So the best thing that anyone can do is actually I would encourage you right now, figure out who your county commissioner is, get their phone number and ask to meet with them and sit down and tell them who you are and what you do and and make sure they know that. Because the more that you can have the general public interacting with your elected official, the better off we’re all going to be.

David Martin: Do you have a good relationship with the mayor of Yakima and the state representative? Your state representatives?

Amanda McKinney: Absolutely. Person. It is so critical. We’ve got a wonderful council of governments in the Akron Valley. And of course, on three we have a three commissioners on our board. And we kind of divide and conquer and sit on different seats of committees and boards. But it is critical to be able to work. And I’m going to say the word across party lines, because, in my state particularly, we have a supermajority, party that is not the party that I am, involved in.

And, and that that is something that of course, we’re going to get hammered and we do get hammered. but what I will say is that it is important, though, to still draw the line to overall what impacts, my community specifically does impact the bottom line of the state. So at the end of the day, if they want to be successful as a state, group of legislators, they should still pay attention to the needs of the people who are maybe not in the majority.

but we are feeding you. So it would be a good idea for you to listen to us when we’re telling you the things that you’re doing are making it harder for us to feed you.

David Martin: I think one of the things that I keep hearing from many county commissioners is, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. It’s that pothole in my street. It’s just has no political party.

Amanda McKinney: Well fix it. It’s not for me. We’re it’s not the pothole. It’s, dust and dust abatement from gravel roads. Yeah. but I think more importantly, and this is critical, most county commissioners, you know, your state legislator or, legislators might have the ability to dip into, you know, reserve funds, or they can go out and find a pot of money and might have surplus dollars.

Yeah. The reason why, county commissioners typically, and why Naco specifically, our association gets along so well, whether or not you, Republican or Democrat, is because it is about balanced budgets. At the end of the day, we actually have to balance our budget. we can’t go bankrupt. and that is a looming issue that nobody wants to have, right?

It doesn’t matter. Or people aren’t going to care what letters behind your name if you bankrupt your county. Yes. and I think the other thing too, is that, you know, county government is so localized that it’s easy for us all to say, government, you know, those government workers. But when you say.

David Martin: That, you.

Amanda McKinney: Know, well, but you know what? I like to remind people that the people who are actually implementing the policies of the of the, the legislative body, that that gave them the directive, those are your neighbors. Those are your family, those are your friends. They’re actually likely working for for some sort of government agency. You know, think about it from, you know, a one on one.

Humanize it. Right. These are people who are following out what they’ve been directed to do. But what I would encourage folks to do is if you do work inside government, really tell your superiors that you’re not getting a good reception to the policies. And I think that’s one thing that’s lacking, is we do have an issue where federal agencies or state agencies employ people, and there’s this adherence to a change in policy depending upon an administrative change from up top, but they don’t feel comfortable talking to their their peers or saying, you know, this is actually really working, I think, the way that it should be.

So I would really encourage anyone working in government to have candid conversations, because if if the food chain is only talking about how this is great, implementation is great. Everybody loves it on the ground. Those legislators are going to hear back and they’re going to say, well, yeah, that’s success. So if something isn’t going well, I would you encourage anyone to talk about it up the food chain.

All right. Honesty’s the best policy.

David Martin: Who is your political hero? Did someone inspire you to get involved?

Amanda McKinney: Oh my gosh. I wrote to Ronald Reagan when I was eight years old. Yeah. but I would say you can ask my husband, even though I love the temperament of Ronald Reagan, the temperament that probably fits better. the one I quote more often is Winston Churchill. he’s a bulldog. And, I really appreciate the directness.

and at the end of the day, this isn’t about feelings. it’s about getting results. so I tend to kind of lean more that way. but I try to be charming like Reagan.

David Martin: No one has said Winston Churchill to the answer that question. You’re the.

Amanda McKinney: First. Oh, gosh, I just adore him. All right.

David Martin: Well, growing up, did you want to be Winston Churchill or did you want to be the president? Did you want to be, no. Governor of your state?

Amanda McKinney: No. Absolutely not. No, no. Only wanted to be, I wanted to be very independent. Yeah. which shouldn’t strike anyone who knows me inside. I have a problem with superiority. Not authority. Superiority. I really kind of thumb my nose at anyone who thinks that they are more superior. And I think that I’m trying to, I like hard work.

David Martin: Husband without being Mr. Morris.

Amanda McKinney: He’s amazing. He’s fantastic. You know, he he he is a true partner. And I think, I like that I’m a female. I’m a mother, I’m a woman. I believe that women should be women. We can do all of these things. But I like to have a man who can also take care of me. I like that traditional role.

So right now, he’s taking care of me by allowing me to live out this dream and serve my community and be here, away from home for a week. And and he’s back at home making sure the kids get to school and that lunches are made. And hopefully it’s not a Halloween candy. Honey, you gotta check the box, make sure it’s not all racist.

David Martin: President of your of your high school class or anything like that.

Amanda McKinney: I was in I was in leadership. Yes. Yeah. I did go back to DC and there was a youth leadership conference, and I was voted to be secretary of state. And I, I do recall some of those things, but. Yeah. Yeah. All right.

David Martin: Did you have a did you come from a political family.

Amanda McKinney: No.

David Martin: No, no. Encourage you to write to Reagan when you were eight?

Amanda McKinney: I just did that on my own. Yeah. And he wrote me back too. I mean, I’m sure it was, you know, the stamp signature, but. Oh, my gosh, I just thought this thing. No. Well, gosh, I love you, my sister. But I think my sister and I got an argument. I think she tore. But that’s what siblings do to show their love, right?

David Martin: All right, so, we’ve talked about a few things out in your in Yakima County, in Washington. I have never been there. I’ve got a you’re.

Amanda McKinney: Going to come.

David Martin: I’m going to come visit. what are we having? What’s your favorite local dish? What are you serving? What are we where are we going?

Amanda McKinney: Oh, gosh.

David Martin: Well, we just as we can start with that. We can finish with apple pie. Certainly. But you know what else?

Amanda McKinney: Well, we because we have so much produce, we have incredible restaurants. And I will say and I talked to with you about this last night, one of my favorite places to eat is, Raleigh’s Taco bus, which is just around the corner. And it is it’s actually a bus. but we have incredible, incredible food. we have a Mexican American community, like none other.

We are very proud of it. Most of our migrant workers who came in, and decided to actually settle year round, our community is, now over 50% of our population has a Mexican heritage. So we will it will definitely include a lot of fantastic, incredible, Mexican food. What do you.

David Martin: Love? What? Your favorite thing.

Amanda McKinney: Oh, gosh, I Kanazawa I mean, okay, I don’t discriminate, but I will say this I love hot spicy salsa, I drench it, it is if it doesn’t make my eyes water, my nose run, I, you know, which.

David Martin: Goes back to the hops because you need a beer.

Amanda McKinney: With that. Yeah, exactly. Or glass of milk sometimes. Yeah, yeah. So that’s what it and we would, absolutely have to have a lot of local varieties of beers, and there’s a lot of great places that you do. And some of our producers actually have taprooms where they will use their experimental. And you can walk in and actually, just like wine tasting, you can you can do that also.

But we’ve got incredible, incredible restaurants with fresh produce as well.

David Martin: And who makes the best apple pie?

Amanda McKinney: I you know, any the best apple pie. Is anyone made in your own home? I absolutely I live by that because when it’s fresh out of the oven. But we have a lot of great bakeries too.

David Martin: All right. this is the good government show. We always bring it back to good government. So tell me about a good government project you’ve worked on in your last few years as a county commissioner.

Amanda McKinney: Oh, very, very, very involved in something called the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. and this is something that shows it good governance is one that hopefully can continue to have good governance beyond the people who are acting it out. we as I expressed a little earlier, we have, really intense water needs. And so, working on, in streamflow for fish, in, in storing water for conservation for our irrigators.

How’s your fishing there? fish. Well, we do not have, we’re not where we want to be with our salmon population for sustainability, but you can fish. And my gosh, we have the most incredible fly fishing. If you’ve never been out, to the Pacific Northwest to fish for salmon, you are missing out. So please.

Absolutely. You can come visit us for that. but do you do that? I don’t fly fish. No, but, I’m more of a mountaineer. I like to hike and do overnight trips out in the mountains. Absolutely. Yeah, but you got to watch out for bears. Make sure you’re packing. Yeah. but I for bear. No, I think that.

But the strongest policy has been to continue to advocate for for for me not having our water rights leave our basin specifically, and making sure we’re advocating for funding from state and federal government for increased storage. We have to store our water. As I discussed earlier, it’s coming down in different forms, and it’s leaving our community. and we need to make sure that we’re storing it so we have enough to use, so that we have enough, for our irrigators.

And we definitely want to care about our environment.

David Martin: Was water something you dealt with before he became a county commissioner?

Amanda McKinney: In some form because of real estate? Yeah. Water issues. So there are certain areas where we have, parts of our basin where we were not able to actually issue building permits because of lack of access for water. I don’t want to we could talk for hours on water issues, and I don’t want to get too technical. but yes, I did have a heightened awareness of it.

and it was also something we had something in our community called the Aqua Vela, which was an intense, court case that lasted over 40 years. And so I would frequently, have title reports come back and a lot of out of, state, underwriters would look at it and go, oh my gosh, we can’t land on this property.

It’s got this, you know, a line item on the side of report. And I would say, oh, don’t worry about it. It’s been there for 40 years, and it’s on every single title of every parcel. Okay. so yeah, very intensely aware of water issues and of course, with my family and farming, this has always been something, I grew up when we used to flood the field, and at that time, you know, now I look at that and it makes my, it gives me heart pains thinking of it.

And there are some places that will still flood fields, but we do drip irrigation and we’re very, very, intense on our water conservation.

David Martin: You said you had, small children. How old?

Amanda McKinney: And so I have a 20 year old daughter and a ten year old son.

David Martin: All right. You said that about to work with the farm just so they could,

Amanda McKinney: You know, we my husband. I have talked about this, that we think it would be very good. He. His first job was arching hops. and mine was.

David Martin: Arching.

Amanda McKinney: Arching hops. And. What what is that? Okay, so hops are vines. and so, they they grow up in the vines hanging down. And so the arching would be to, we put them in rows and they would actually physically, work to tie them around the vine that grows. So they would create. Yes. All right. Yeah, yeah.

And then we have a top cutter and a bottom cutter. And I can really talk to you about all of those scary looking equipment, but it’s it’s really good.

David Martin: So are you gonna send your boy out.

Amanda McKinney: To, yes, he’s gonna go out. He’s going to go out Blackstar and she’s going to go out. He’s going to have to do it.

David Martin: Amanda McKinney of Yakima County, Washington, it is a pleasure meeting you.

Amanda McKinney: And thank you very much.

David Martin: Thank you very much. And, cosmic crisp, cosmic crisp.

Amanda McKinney: Remember, that’s the win for the charcuterie. You got to go for the Cosmic Crisp.

David Martin: Well, I like a good charcuterie. Yeah. Do you have to have that apple or. Absolutely fresh fruit? That’s the one. Cousin Chris, thank you for being.

Amanda McKinney: Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time.

David Martin: Thank you.

What is it the county government does? That’s the question county commissioners get asked the most. And the simple answer is everything on the good government show. We’re so lucky to have talked with so many county commissioners and other county officials that have shown us how effective county government is. County government dates back to get this 1634, making it one of the oldest forms of government in the United States.

Think about it. Roads. Highways. Hospitals. Schools. Recycling. Law enforcement. Water. Sewers, and most of the county. Those services are maintained by the county that’s county government. The National Association of Counties represents all 3069 counties across the USA. Naco helps county government work better together through things like sharing best practices. When county government works well, well, that’s just good government.

After you get done with this episode, hear more good government stories with our friends at How to Really Run a City. Former Mayors Kazeem Reed of Atlanta and Michael Nutter of Settle Delphia and their co-host, journalist and author Larry Platt talk with guests and other mayors about how to really get stuff done in cities around the nation. Check them out where you’re listening now or through their nonprofit news site, The Philadelphia Citizen.

Dot org slash podcasts.

You have to respect a county commissioner, or anyone for that matter, who spent some time in the fields on a swatter. Amanda McKinney is certainly the real deal. She’s shaking things up, but more important. She’s out there listening, spending less time in the office, and more time talking to people in the grocery store. That’s a good recipe for good government.

She recently got a proposal passed at the National Association of Counties that urges the federal government to consider local ag land use, especially water consumption, before imposing new land use laws, including around alternative energy sites. And her hero, Winston Churchill. Not many politicians better than Sir Winston to look up to. Okay, now I’m going to go get some wine.

Yeah. Apples, wine and apples. Anyway, that’s our show. Thanks for listening. Please like us and share this with your friends and reviews right here where you’re listening. And check out our website. Good government for extras. Join us again for another episode right here. I’m Dave Martin and this is the Good Government show.

The Good Government show is a Valley Park production. Jim Ludlow, Dave Martin, that’s me and David Snyder are the executive producers. Our show is edited and produced by Jason Stershic. Please subscribe then share us and like us and reviews. That’s the best way to make sure we’re able to keep telling these stories of our government working for all of us.

Then listen to the next episode of The Good Government Show.

**This transcription was created using digital tools and has not been edited by a live person. We apologize for any discrepancies or errors.