Jefferson County candidates start thinking about fall voting

Candidate-filing week for the Nov. 8 election is still four months away, but elected office-holders and those who follow their comings and goings are already stirring the political stew.

For them, July 25-July 29 is just around the corner.

With 86 positions open on city councils, school boards, hospital boards, port commissions and fire district commissions across the North Olympic Peninsula, politics this fall will be massively local.

There are 44 positions up for election in Jefferson County, and 42 in Clallam.

Most incumbents interviewed by the Peninsula Daily News said they intend to run for re-election, or are leaning in that direction.

PT City Council quiet

In Port Townsend, City Council member Freida Fenn is not seeking re-election.

Instead, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology.

But she has “casually encouraged citizens” to think about running for her position, she said.

Fenn and two other incumbents, Michelle Sandoval and Kees Kolff, were supported four years ago by many members of the land preservation group, People for a Livable Community, a group Fenn chaired before she ran for City Council.

“It’s not as active as it was a few years ago,” Fenn said.

“Would they put up a candidate, per se? I doubt it.”

It may not be necessary for the upcoming election, she suggested.

“This is a pretty progressive community,” Fenn said.

“There’s a strong and active minority of conservatives who are a regular part of the dialogue.”

Sandoval added: “It has been very quiet.”

Against Hollywood Video

But members of a group trying to stymie Hollywood Video’s effort to open a chain store outlet in Port Townsend may throw their support by candidates who support restrictive land-use zoning for chain stores or “formula retail establishments,” Stop Hollywood Video spokesman Ian Hinkle said.

He said his group has about 100 “core supporters.”

“We will be looking for support from the City Council and to support the council members in the upcoming election,” Hinkle said.

The Sept. 20 primary election will have an impact on only one race: the partisan position of Jefferson County Superior Court clerk.

But county Auditor Donna Eldridge said she’s still waiting for state Secretary of State’s Office to issue rules on how the new, “Top Two” election primary should be run.

The primary was put in place by voter-approved Initiative 872, which allows the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation to advance to the general election.

This election season, I-872 affects only Jefferson County’s partisan position of Jefferson County clerk, vacated by Marianne Walters, who retired.

Her seat, now occupied by appointee Ruth Gordon, is up for election.

It is the only partisan position open in both counties.

Eldridge said she expects the state Republican and Democratic parties to file suit in April to question I-872’s constitutionality.

“You need to have the rules to tell you how to do it,” Eldridge said.

“If we don’t get that, we are afraid of setting ourselves up for a lawsuit.”

On the ballot

Here’s a rundown of seats in Jefferson County up for election — and the response of incumbents the Peninsula Daily News was able to contact on whether they intend to run for re-election.

The Superior Court clerk position and all School Board, City Council, Port and parks and recreation districts positions are for four-year terms unless otherwise noted.

All hospital, fire protection, water and cemetery district positions are for six years unless otherwise noted.

Jefferson County clerk.

* Ruth Gordon: Yes, as a Democrat.

“In the appointment process, there was a condition we would be willing to run, and I had said yes to that, and nothing has changed.”

Jefferson County Public Hospital District 2 (Jefferson Healthcare hospital)

* Anthony DeLeo: Yes. “We’ve got a lot of projects going, and I hate to walk out on the middle of them.”

Port Townsend City Council

* Freida Fenn: No.

* Kees Kolff: Undecided. “I’m seriously thinking about it.”

* Michelle Sandoval: Undecided. “I haven’t thought about it.”

Port of Port Townsend

* Conrad Pirner, Port Townsend: No. “I’ve been ‘districted’ out,”‘ he said, explaining he no longer lives in the district. “I’m 71 years old, and I’ve got to retire and do something else.”

* Herbert Beck, Quilcene: Yes.

Port Townsend School Board

* John Eissinger: Yes.

* Rita Beebe: Yes. “To hire a new superintendent and desert the ship is not right.”

Chimacum School Board

* Ted Friedrich: Yes.

* Cammy Brown: Yes. “I think I am really making a difference. We have a great School Board. We really get along well, and you don’t find that too often.”

* Dave Robocker (two-year unexpired term): Yes.

* Kevin Miller: Not available for an interview on his plans.

Sequim School Board (includes Jefferson as well as Clallam County)

* Elna Kawal: Undecided. “I’m leaning toward not running because of other family obligations,” she said.

* David Blake: Not available for an interview on his plans.

Quillayute Valley (Forks) School Board (includes Jefferson as well as Clallam County)

* Sue Gibbs: Yes. “At this point, I probably will.”

* Sharon Penn: Yes. “I assume I will,” she said.

* Jefferson County Public Hospital District No. 1 (Forks Community Hospital and Quinault-Grays Harbor Fire District 4)

* Kathy Dickson: Leaning toward running.

Other positions and their incumbents:

* Quilcene School District — Craig Richbourg and Daryle Starnes

* Brinnon School District — Valerie Schindler and Robert (Bob) Mollerus.

* Queets-Clearwater School District — Lyle Pfeifle, Clifford Hay Sandra Wells-Kalama.

* Chimacum Fire Protection District No. 1 — Edward Davis.

* Quilcene Fire Protection District No. 2 — Julie McClanahan.

* Port Ludlow Fire Protection District No 3 — Bob Pontius, Mike Porter, William Hansen.

* Brinnon Fire Protection District No. 4 — Ronald D. Garrison.

* Fire Protection District No. 5 — C. Randy Okerman.

* Port Townsend Fire Protection District No. 6 — Mark Bowes.

* Forks Fire Protection District No. 7 — Fred Emmett (two-year unexpired term); Howard Rotter (short and six-year term to 2011); Steve Martin (four-year unexpired term).

* Quilcene Parks and Recreation District — Cy Heffernan and Joseph T. Lesh.

* Water District No. 1 — Ray Carlson.

* Water District No. 2 — Barbara Schuman.

* Water District No. 3 — Joseph Govaert and James Reeves (four-year unexpired term).

* Brinnon Cemetery District No. 1 — Charles Robinson.

* Quilcene Cemetery District No. 2 — Dave Knox.

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