By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“We're back in startup mode,” said Ron Gregory during a Sunday picnic sponsored by the party.
“I think were at the same point where we were 15 years ago when a handful of people would come to our meetings, but we need to put a few Republicans in office to show by a process of change that we have a real place in county government.”
Republicans were unsuccessful in their efforts to recruit candidates for county offices this year.
Three candidates are challenging Kathleen Kler, the preferred Democratic candidate for District 3 county commissioner, but have all declined to affiliate themselves with any party.
The party was also unable to find a candidate for treasurer to replace Republican Judi Morris, who retired.
About 65 people attended the event, to which all candidates were invited to speak regardless of party affiliation.
Amid optimism for the party's future, the attendance number was noted.
“With all that is going on right now, I'm disappointed that there aren't 300 people he right now,” said Jim Boyer, who ran for District 3 county commissioner in 2010.
Boyer said the Jefferson County government doesn't recognize individual property rights, something that would change if Republicans were elected to those offices.
“We have generated enthusiasm from independents,” Farr said prior to the speeches.
“We are working on issues in order to show people that our solutions are the best.
“If we can do that, we can turn people around to show this party has the right idea.
“The Democratic program isn't working. The people in power are doing everything they can to stifle growth.”
Seven candidates for county offices addressed the group.
Jefferson County Public Utility District Commissioner Kenneth McMillen, 81, and District Court Judge Jill Landes, 64, are both seeking re-election to their nonpartisan positions.
Sheriff candidate Ken Przygocki, 63, and county commissioner candidates Dan Toepper, 53, Alex Borgeson, 44, and Joe Baisch, 66, are all running either with no party preference or as a the member of the Independent party.
Party chair Gene Farr said that any candidate was welcome to attend, but Mike Haas, 53, who is challenging incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Scott Rosekrans, 62, was the sole Democrat present.
“I am a Democrat, but we really miss having Republicans in the race,” Haas said.
“Hopefully in the next set of elections, the Republicans will be able to field a candidate.
“The truth is not with either party, it is somewhere in the middle, and when we sit down and have respectful debates, we can solve some of our problems.”
Landes is challenged by former deputy prosecutor Cheryl Potebnya, who was not present.
“I always tell jurors that the justice system is flawed,” Landes said.
“The only perfect form of government has only one person in it.
“With more than one person you are going to get arguments and disagreements.
“It's important to treat everyone who comes before you as a judge with impartiality and kindness, good listening skills and to reach a determination that protects the safety of the public but is also equitable for the person who is standing before you.”
Kathleen Kler, who has received support from the Democratic party in her bid for commissioner, did not attend and was criticized in absentia.
Immediately prior to her candidacy, Kler co-chaired the board that explored the possible creation of a Metropolitan Parks District but failed to do so.
“We all need to make sure that she doesn't get in there,” Farr said.
“We saw what she did with the Metropolitan Parks District, trying to shove a big government solution with more taxes.
“We need to find a good candidate in this set of three to make sure that Kathleen Kler doesn't get in there.”
Both Borgeson and Baisch criticized the county commissioners' recent action to implement a pay raise in 2017 and said they would return the money or contribute it to charity, with Baisch saying he would do so until the economy improved.
Also addressing the gathering were Thomas Greisamer of Moclips in Grays Harbor County is challenging incumbent 24th District state Rep. Steve Tharinger's bid for a third term, and Marty McClendon, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of the 6th Congressional District in his bid for a second term.
Both are running as Republicans.
Two issue-oriented speakers also addressed the group.
Karen Page criticized Jefferson County government for lax marijuana permitting laws while Dennis Shultz said he expects elements of the Jefferson County Shoreline Management plan will be struck down by appeal.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.