Races develop in Jefferson elections amid filing week

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — As filing week in Jefferson County begins, several contested races have emerged in a year that will end with a substantial turnover for the county’s elected officials.

Four incumbents — County Commissioner John Austin, Auditor Donna Eldridge, Sheriff Tony Hernandez and Treasurer Judi Morris — will not seek re-election, and appointed Assessor Jeff Chapman is facing voters for the first time.

“This will be an exciting election because there are a lot of contested races,” Eldridge said.

The candidate filing period takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today through Friday.

In addition to the county positions, The 6th Congressional District seat now held by Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and the two 24th Legislative District seats now held by Sequim Democrats Kevin Van De Wege and Steve Tharinger, also are on the ballot this year, as are four state Supreme Court seats and a Court of Appeals position now held by Joyce Robin Hunt.

In past years, several candidates on the county level have waited until the last day to make their intentions known.

In 2012, County Commissioner David Sullivan was the only candidate in the morning, but had drawn two opponents by the time filing period closed.

In this tradition, it’s possible that several candidates, both expected and unexpected, will show up at the courthouse to file their papers.

But at the beginning of the week, there is already an active candidate slate.

Of those who have announced their candidacies, three of them are running with no party preference because they do not want to identify themselves with either Democrats or Republicans.

After filing week ends, the candidates will advance to the Aug. 5 primary.

If there are more than two candidates for a position, the top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 4 general election.

With only two candidates filing for a position, it is assumed they will both advance to the general election unless a write-in candidate comes in second.

The assessor, auditor, clerk and treasurer draw a $71,980 yearly salary while a county commissioner earns $63,925 and the sheriff makes $85,015.

District court judges see $145,544 a year, while the prosecutor earns $128,507.

Filing fees for each office are 1 percent of the total salary.

Commissioner

Austin is retiring with three candidates seeking to represent District 3, which includes the eastern and southern parts of the county along with the area extending to the Pacific Ocean.

Dan Toepper, 53, a retired engineer from Port Ludlow, announced Friday that he plans to seek the seat with no party preference.

“I’m running as an independent because party politics have really gotten away from what people need in this county, and that is trying to find common ground,” Toepper said at a campaign rally Friday for sheriff candidate Ken Przygocki.

“Everyone in Jefferson County wants clean water, clean air and respectable things we can all agree on, which is why I am going to give the voters an option.”

Toepper said he was a member of the Republican Party in the past but has not been active in it since the 1990s.

Also declaring last week with no party preference was Joe Baisch, 66, of Brinnon, a member of the Brinnon School Board and a longtime county volunteer.

Kathleen Kler, 63, of Quilcene, was the first to declare for a county race this year, announcing her candidacy at a March 18 event where Austin announced his retirement.

Kler is a member of the Jefferson County Parks Commission and a co-chair of the committee that was examining the possibility of establishing a Metropolitan Parks District.

Auditor

On Friday, Deputy Auditor Rose Ann Carroll announced her intention to run for the top spot.

Carroll has worked for the county for 18 years — two years in the auditor’s office preceded by stints in the Department of Community Development and the treasurer’s office.

“I know who’s who, where to go for what and how it meshes together,” Carroll said of her county experience.

“All the departments are different, but they have a common goal.”

Carroll, running as a Democrat, has received Eldridge’s endorsement.

Carroll will face Democrat Judy Maves-Klatt, 52, a freelance appraiser and former attorney.

Maves-Klatt was an applicant for the assessor’s job in 2012, but the county commissioners selected Chapman to fill the unexpired term.

Treasurer

With Morris’ retirement, the Republican Party was charged with providing a list three names to the county commissioners from which to name a successor.

Morris recommended Department of Community Development Planning Director Stacie Hoskins for the list, but the Republicans decided to name three others due to Hoskins’ absence of a previous party allegiance.

Of the three, only Dena Jones, 58, has indicated that she will file for the position this week while the others, Lyle Newlin, 77, and former Republican Party chair Ron Gregory, said they would not file for another term if they were appointed.

Hoskins would not comment about her plans Friday, but Jefferson County Democratic Chairman George Yount said that he has recruited her to run as a Democrat.

Sheriff

Earlier this month Hernandez, 42, a Democrat, announced he would not seek a second full term due to family considerations.

“We were ready for the other ones, but this caught us by surprise,” Yount said of Hernandez’ decision.

Immediately after Hernandez’ announcement, retired State Police Sgt. Ken Przyocki, 66, announced his intention to run for the seat, saying he would have done so even if Hernandez were still a candidate.

Przygocki is running with no party preference.

On Saturday, Yount said his party was in the candidate recruitment process and would most likely make an announcement Sunday. None had been made as of Sunday afternoon.

District Court Judge

Incumbent Jill Landes said Friday that she intends to file for a third term for the nonpartisan seat.

Landes, first elected in 2006, faced attorney John Wood in 2010 but currently has no declared opponent.

Prosecuting Attorney

Incumbent Scott Rosekrans, 62, is facing a challenge from Port Townsend attorney Michael Haas, 53.

Rosekrans prevailed over Paul Richmond in 2010 to succeed Juelie Dalzell, who retired.

Haas came in third in the 2012 race for the sole Jefferson County Superior Court position.

Both will file as Democrats.

Assessor

Jeff Chapman, 62, was nominated by the Democratic Party and appointed by the county commissioners to succeed Jack Westerman, who retired at the beginning of 2013.

Chapman has no declared opposition.

PUD

Incumbent Ken McMillen, 81, faces a challenge from Marrowstone Island winemaker Kenneth Collins, 67, for the nonpartisan seat.

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

Last modified: May 11. 2014 7:12PM
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