By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“I have withdrawn from the race, but I’m on the primary ballot. If the citizens of Jefferson County want me to go into the general election, I would reconsider,” Stanko, one of three sheriff candidates on the Aug. 5 primary election ballot, said Friday.
Stanko, 66, suspended his campaign Thursday after members of the county Democratic Party voted June 10 to endorse Wendy Davis, 47, for the position.
Stanko and Davis are Democrats. Another candidate for the position, Ken Przygocki, 63, filed with no party affiliation.
“I’m withdrawing from the campaign because I’m very disappointed that the Democrats endorsed my opponent, but I’m on the primary election ballot, and we’ll see what happens,” Stanko said.
He said he was disappointed by the endorsement decision and that he perceives the Sheriff’s Office as a nonpartisan position.
“I’m disappointed there is a party presence in this selection process,” he said.
He will not actively campaign for the primary election because “I’m not willing to fight an uphill battle knowing the Democrats have picked my opponent,” he said.
However, “if the voters pick me to go forward, I would consider running in the November election,” he added.
August’s primary will winnow contenders down to the top two who get the most votes. Those two will advance to the Nov. 4 general election regardless of party affiliation.
Primary election ballots will be mailed to registered voters July 18.
About 120 people — 103 of them voting party members — gathered at the Tri-Area Community Center in Chimacum last week to consider endorsements.
The motion to endorse Davis, a former Bremerton and Poulsbo police officer, carried with 72 votes, with 29 opposed.
Since Stanko is suspending his campaign, he feels it is unlikely that he will place in the primary “because both Wendy and Ken will be campaigning hard,” but if he advances to the general election, “I will make a decision what to do at that time.”
Stanko said he will endorse neither Davis nor Przygocki, who is retired from the State Patrol, prior to the primary election.
He also said he did not know whether he would participate in candidate forums prior to the August primary.
The present sheriff, Tony Hernandez, decided not to run for re-election.
The Democratic Party had expected Hernandez to seek another term and was surprised by his withdrawal in April, according to George Yount, county Democratic Party chairman.
The party then sought to recruit a candidate to oppose Przygocki, who had intended to declare whether Hernandez ran or not.
The Democrats recruited both Davis and Stanko in the hope they would come in first and second in the primary and eliminate Przygocki, Yount said.
Yount said he’d still like to see that happen.
“I’d still love to see Dave knock Przygocki out of the race,” he said.
“He is still a good candidate with excellent qualifications and a lot of experience.”
Yount said he was surprised by Stanko’s decision but “can understand his frustration.”
Davis and Przygocki are now preparing for a one-on-one challenge, although both said that Stanko’s withdrawal would not change their campaign strategy.
“I don’t know how I would feel if I was in his position,” Davis said of Stanko.
“It won’t change anything for me. I still need to go out and do my due diligence and talk to people in the community about what they expect from a sheriff.”
“I feel bad that Dave was treated that way,” Przygocki said.
“But I am going to go forward and stay focused on my own campaign.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Democrats also endorsed Judy Maves-Klatt, 52, over Rose Ann Carroll, 63, for the Jefferson County auditor’s position, 91 votes in favor to nine opposed.
After the endorsement, Carroll said she intended to continue her campaign.
“It happened, it’s over, it’s done with,” she said Wednesday,
“I’m not taking it personally. I’m going to move forward and run my campaign exactly as I planned to, and I’m going to push forward.”
The party declined to endorse either Prosecuting Attorney Scott Rosekrans, 62, or challenger Mike Haas, 53, until after the primary.
No Republicans filed candidacies for county partisan offices.
Stanko, who was selected the 2012 Business Leader of the Year by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, retired as a lieutenant at the Fullerton, Calif., Police Department in 2004 and moved to Cape George.
He is past president of Port Townsend Rotary, a driver for Ecumenical Christian Helping Hands Organization — known as ECCHO — as well as a member of the United Good Neighbors board of directors, a member of Calvary Church and a participant in the work of the Community Outreach Association Shelter Team, or COAST, at the Port Townsend homeless shelter.
“I’ll still be around,” he said Friday.
“I’m still involved with Rotary, I’m still driving for ECCHO, and I’m still in the community.”
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.