Port Angeles council member eyes Clallam commissioner seat

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — City Councilwoman Sissi Bruch has announced she intends to run for the Clallam County commissioner seat currently held by Mike Doherty — if he doesn't seek re-election.

“I'm going to go ahead and apply, and if [Doherty] runs, I'll withdraw,” Bruch, 54, said Friday.

The candidate filing period for this year's elections begins Monday and continues through Friday.

Doherty, 71, a Democrat who is in his fourth four-year term representing the county's West End district, could not be reached for comment Saturday.

He told the Peninsula Daily News on Thursday he had not decided whether he will seek a fifth term and typically waits until filing week to find out who else is running before he makes a decision.

“Mike's done an amazing job. He's thought of so highly, it would be huge shoes to fill,” Bruch said.

Bruch, who would run as a Democrat, said she has been approached by several people about running for county commissioner.

She said she's interested in serving on the county panel because her time on the council has shown her that many issues the city is facing, such as addressing the failing bluff along the Port Angeles Regional Transfer Station, affect more than just city residents.

“I would like us to deal with them in a countywide manner,” Bruch said.

She said she feels her experience and education in landscape architecture and urban planning would allow her to strike a balance between preserving the environment and creating jobs in the county.

Environment, jobs

“I don't want to pit the environment against jobs,” Bruch said.

“I don't think it's one or the other.”

In her career, Bruch said she has worked with landowners to plan development that both preserves natural resources and saves the landowners money.

Bill Peach of Forks, a retired Rayonier forester and a Quillayute Valley Parks and Recreation District commissioner, announced last week he intends to run for Doherty's seat as a Republican.

Bruch has worked since 2009 for the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, where she now serves as a senior planner.

She defeated incumbent Don Perry when she was elected to the City Council in 2011 for a four-year term beginning in 2012.

If Bruch ultimately decides to campaign for Doherty's seat, she said she will continue to keep up with her council duties.

“I'd get less sleep, is what [would] happen,” Bruch said.

“If I do get elected, I would end up resigning from both the tribe and the city.”

Bruch also serves on the city's Utility Advisory Committee and on the boards of the Peninsula Development District and the county Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

Background

Born in Guatemala, Bruch moved with her parents to the U.S. when she was 10 and grew up in Bethesda, Md.

She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master's in landscape architecture from Louisiana State University and a doctorate in urban planning from Michigan State University.

Bruch said she moved to Port Angeles in 2009 after she had visited several times with friends, “falling in love with it.”

Bruch is divorced and has two sons: one attending Peninsula College and the other attending school in Lansing, Mich.

If Bruch wins the Nov. 4 general election, her annual salary as a county commissioner would be $67,189.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 10. 2014 5:26PM
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