First Jefferson County freeholder forum tonight in Chimacum
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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Two measures on the general election ballot deal with creating a Jefferson County charter.
The first measure asks voters whether to approve or reject the process. The second asks them to choose five freeholders from each county commission district to write the charter.
If the first measure is approved, then the elections of the individual freeholders will be certified. If the measure is defeated, they won't be.
If voters approve, elected freeholders will be charged with developing by June 20, 2015, a county charter to be considered by voters.
Jefferson County now has a commission form of government, with three elected commissioners.
Home-rule charters are permitted by the state constitution as a way for counties to provide forms of government that might differ from the commission form proscribed by state law.
Ballots will be mailed to registered voters on Oct. 16.
The forum at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Tri-Area Community Center, 10 West Valley Road, will address both measures that will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.
It will present information about the charter process and then invite freeholder candidates to introduce themselves and state their platforms.
The forum, which is sponsored by the Jefferson County Republican Party, differs from other planned events that will include either a discussion of the process or candidate presentations.
The first currently scheduled issues forum will be sponsored by the Port Townsend Rotary at 12 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St.
This forum will include supporters of the measure, along with Jefferson County Commissioner David Sullivan, who is not allowed to take a stand one way or the other but “can provide the county's perspective,” according to forum organizer Rich Ciccarone.
Ciccarone said he has no plans to include a spokesperson for the anti-charter group at this time but said “if someone voices a valid opinion [against the charter] we will invite them.
“We want the public to be educated,” Ciccarone said. “A lot of people don't know what this is all about.”
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce has planned an issues forum for noon Oct. 21 at the Port Townsend Elks, 555 Otto St.
The forum will be nonpartisan, said George Yount, who is in charge of the chamber's program and who is also Jefferson County Democratic Party chairman.
It will feature a panel with two or three people representing each side, Yount said.
“The most important thing is to be fair and accurate and to get the information out,” Yount said.
“We want to shed light on this very confusing issue.”
The Democratic Party could sponsor a forum that includes the candidates but nothing has been planned, Yount said.
The League of Women Voters plans to sponsor a forum but has not determined a time or place, according to LWV spokesperson Jackie Aase, who said that it would concentrate on the charter issue rather than the individual candidates.
The Kiwanis Club hasn't planned a date for a charter forum but could schedule something in October, according to club president Helen Brink.
The challenge faced in candidate forums, according to Aase, is providing a way for voters to determine the qualifications of 51 candidates to serve in 15 positions.
District 1, which includes the city of Port Townsend and the adjacent area, has the most candidates with 20.
Fifteen filed for the seats in District 2, which covers Cape George, Kala Point, Nordland, Chimacum, Port Hadlock, Irondale and Four Corners.
Sixteen filed in District 3, which covers southeast Jefferson County and then extends west to the Pacific coast and the communities of Quileute, Kalaloch and Queets.
The Community Rights Coalition of Jefferson County, which submitted the petitions on July 30 that started the process rolling, plans to hold three events, one in each district, according to group spokesperson Val Phimister.
Candidates will be able to appear, make short statements and answer questions, Phimister said.
Times and places for the forums have not been determined and are expected to be announced next week, Phimister said.
The county no longer publishes a printed voter's guide, but an online guide is expected to be viewable after Monday at http://tinyurl.com/k637env.
Participation is voluntary, with each candidate allowed to submit a photo and a statement that will be published on the site.
Elections Supervisor Karen Cartmel said there is no formal length limit but that candidates should keep it short.
Statements aren't checked for accuracy but should provide information about and statements from the candidate and not mention the opposition, Cartmel said.
Any statement containing an attack on another candidate won't be posted, Cartmel said.
The Peninsula Daily News will publish its usual voter guide in both magazine and online versions.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: August 22. 2013 10:07AM