Another candidate drops out of Aug. 1 primary election

PORT ANGELES — Another candidate has dropped out of an Aug. 1 primary race.

Allen Hunt, a Port Angeles-area Clallam County Fire District 2 firefighter-paramedic, said this week he is no longer a candidate for the Position 1 seat on the District 2 board of commissioners.

Hunt said he could not avoid conflict-of-interest issues if he became a fire district commissioner and kept his fire district job — and could not find new employment.

Hunt’s departure leaves remaining District 2 fire commissioner candidates Tom Martin and Patricia Reifenstahl in the contest in the general election. Only races with three or more candidates are on the primary election ballot.

“I was testing [for a new job] at the time I put my name in to run for commissioner,” Hunt said Tuesday.

“Like anything else, you make plans for your future, but some things change in the way that it goes.”

Bill Paul, the Forks-area county Fire District 1 chief, last week dropped out of the three-way Forks City Council Position 3 race, citing personal reasons.

His departure left Joe Soha and Mike Gilstrap to vie for the position in the Nov. 7 general election.

Hunt’s and Paul’s names will remain on the primary election ballot after they failed to withdraw by the state-mandated deadline of May 22.

Hunt said he received a letter from District 2 Fire Chief Sam Phillips after he filed for the position warning him that he could not be paid to work for the district and also serve as a fire district commissioner, also a paid position.

After fire district officials saw that Hunt was running for office, the fire district legal counsel in Gig Harbor “determined a person can’t be a supervisor of themselves,” Phillips said Wednesday.

“We informed him he has a choice to make if he is elected to the commission.”

In the June 1 letter, Phillips told Hunt he could be subject to recall if he were elected as a commissioner and kept his firefighter job.

“Under Washington law, no public officer [such as a fire commissioner] may have a beneficial interest in a contract that they administer as a commissioner,” he said.

“The precise question is free of any debate at this point among well informed municipal attorneys: A paid firefighter in a district cannot also serve as an elected commissioner.”

Primary races remain in Clallam County for two positions on the Port Angeles City Council and a single spot on Sequim-area Fire District 3.

In Jefferson County, there are primary races for single seats on the Jefferson Healthcare hospital board of commissioners and the Chimacum School District board.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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