By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Mary Ellen Winborn, owner of Winborn Architects, said she has never sought public office before but decided to seek the position because she disagrees with the way Roark Miller has run the county Department of Community Development.
“It’s inconsistent the way some people are treated and others aren’t,” Winborn, 54, said Thursday.
Winborn said she feels she would bring a more creative approach to interpreting county building and zoning codes.
“So I said, ‘You know what? Why don’t I run for that office? Because I can change things in that office,’” Winborn said.
Roark Miller, 55, plans to run for another four-year term.
She was elected in 2010 with 53.5 percent of the vote against incumbent John Miller, no relation.
The weeklong candidate filing week begins Monday.
If more than two candidates file for any position, the field will be narrowed during the Aug. 5 primary to two who will compete in the Nov. 4 general election.
Give up business
Winborn said she intends to give up her architecture business both if she wins election to the director spot and if she doesn’t, partly because she said she would not want “to go through another four years of this administration.
“I’m just ready to do something different and make a bigger contribution than one house at a time,” Winborn said.
She said does not intend to make a campaign issue of the recent investigation of Roark Miller stemming from a February 2013 DCD employee whistleblower complaint.
“That really didn’t have an effect on my decision to run or not,” Winborn said.
A 22-year Port Angeles resident, Winborn graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.
Winborn is married to Joel Winborn, Clallam County parks, fair and facilities director, and has two children.
Winborn said she thinks the planning experience she has gained both from her career and education make her well suited for the elected position.
“It’s an education of collaboration and teamwork, integrating knowledge of community and understanding a sense of place, where you are and what that place is to you,” Winborn said.
“Everything has a planning aspect to it in my education.”
Winborn said she has completed more than 250 projects as an architect in Port Angeles, with about 65 percent of those being private homes.
The county Department of Community Development contains just more than 18 full-time-equivalent staff positions, including Roark Miller.
Clallam County’s community development directorship is the only such post in the nation that is an elected position.
Roark Miller currently makes $74,149 per year, which would increase one pay grade to $76,003 annually if she is elected, County Administrator Jim Jones said.
If someone other than Roark Miller wins, Jones said that person would start at $68,840 per year.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.