Election candidates starting to shape up in Jefferson County

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Two Democratic candidates, an incumbent prosecuting attorney and a political newcomer, have announced intentions to run for countywide offices.

Scott Rosekrans, 62, is seeking a second term as Jefferson County prosecuting attorney, and Judy Maves-Klatt, 52, hopes to replace Jefferson County Auditor Donna Eldridge, who has announced her retirement.

Neither candidate has announced opposition at present, although Port Townsend defense attorney Michael Haas said he is considering a run for prosecutor and will make a decision whether to run after returning from a family vacation next Saturday.

The county prosecutor currently earns $128,506 per year, while the auditor receives $71,980.

Candidate filing begins April 28 by mail and May 12 for online and in-person declarations, and all must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. May 16.

If more than two candidates file for any position, the field will be narrowed to two during the top-two Aug. 5 primary, which moves the candidates who get the most votes to the Nov. 4 general election despite political party affiliation.

Rosekrans was elected in 2010 after having lived in Jefferson County for two years. He was serving as chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney before he succeeded Juelie Dalzell for the top spot after she retired.

He said that when Dalzell hired him, the economy was sound and the office fully staffed. That changed after he took office.

“When I became prosecutor, the deputy prosecutor position was open, but the commissioners cut $12,000 out of that salary to cover other expenses, so I couldn’t hire a replacement,” Rosekrans said.

“So I no longer had a full staff.”

Rosekrans said his office was able to maintain a high level of service.

“We were able to run the office for the last four years with a reduced budget, and we were able to actually increase services,” he said.

If elected to another term, he hopes to bring the staff up to full strength,

During his first term, he initiated a pre-charging diversion program that has successfully diverted over 300 cases out of District Court, he said.

Rosekrans faced criticism for a no-plea-bargain policy in DUI cases and handling of the first double-murder trial of Michael J. Pierce.

Rosekrans takes issue with these criticisms.

“If someone drives a 3,000-pound machine under the influence, they need to held accountable,” he said.

“Some people have taken issue with the no-plea-bargain policy, but we are winning 90 percent of our alcohol-related DUIs in court, so we are doing what the juries and the voters want us to do.”

In overturning Pierce’s 2010 conviction of the murders of Pat and Janice Yarr of Quilcene, the state Court of Appeals ruled that Rosekrans had made inappropriate statements during his closing arguments and that statements Pierce made to deputies after his arrest could not be used against him because his request for an attorney after his arrest was not honored.

Pierce, 38, has had two mistrials since then, and a decision is expected to be made in May as to a fourth trail.

Rosekrans feels there were no judicial errors made in the first trial.

“It’s not my fault that the Court of Appeals got it wrong and the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal,” he said.

“To my dying day, I will maintain that the Sheriff’s Department didn’t do anything wrong, [the late] Judge [Craddock] Verser didn’t do anything wrong, and I didn’t do anything wrong.

“There was nothing that I said in my closing statements that swayed the jury,” Rosekrans added.

In November Maves-Klatt applied for the Jefferson County assessor’s vacancy, which was decided by appointment, but came in second to Jeff Chapman, who is now serving.

She now seeks the auditor’s position because she said she wants to give back to the community, a reason she also gave when asked about running for assessor.

She is currently an appraiser in Jefferson County and has worked as a State Patrol investigator and as an attorney.

The latter is an important qualification for auditor, she said.

“Legal training teaches you how to solve problems and approach problems,” she said.

“As auditor, I will supervise the elections process to the letter of the law.”

The present auditor, Donna Eldridge, has said she will not run again when her current term — her fifth — expires in December.


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 19. 2014 6:47PM
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