PORT ANGELES — Clallam County’s elected community development director — still the only elected DCD director in the U.S. — has a general election contender for her job.
One-term incumbent Mary Ellen Winborn, an architect, is being challenged by land-use planner Julieanna Gardiner of Port Angeles, according to state Public Disclosure Commission records.
Candidate filing week for the Nov. 6 election begins Monday.
Gardiner, who said Saturday much of her land-use planning experience is in the private sector, and Winborn are among 11 people who have registered as of Friday with the PDC as general election candidates for Clallam County positions on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Seats up for election are four-year terms for DCD director, county commissioner, sheriff, prosecuting attorney, auditor, assessor, treasurer, Port Angeles-area District Court 1 judge and West End-area District Court 2 Judge, and a six-year term for Clallam Public Utility District commissioner.
The commissioner and prosecuting attorney positions are the only partisan posts.
Winborn announced her intention to run for the position March 10 on her “Mary Ellen 4 DCD” Facebook page but did not register as a candidate until Thursday.
She said she was unaware until a Thursday interview that candidates must register two weeks after announcing they are running for public office.
“I love this job and the potential,” said Winborn, whose husband, Joel Winborn, is the county’s parks, county fair and facilities director.
“As a community development director, you can treat a lot of people fairly but usually you don’t make a lot of people happy,” she said.
“We have a lot of land with a lot of limits, so that’s a challenge,” Winborn added. “I’ve worked hard to keep rural lands rural.”
Gardiner was a frequent critic of Winborn’s actions that led to a federal lawsuit against Winborn and the county.
It alleges Winborn “may have improperly influenced or tried to skew how the International Code Council should be interpreted to suit her desires.”
In the lawsuit, Judy Lee of California, who was represented by Gardiner’s husband, Craig Miller of Port Angeles, alleges Winborn has worked to stymie her plans for a 32,000-square-foot, four-story structure at Sequim Bay that she says would be a bed and breakfast with five bedrooms and 27 bathrooms.
The county determined that what Lee wanted to build was a hotel, which is prohibited at the 695 E. Sequim Bay Road location.
“That building was so large and it didn’t have the safety component it needed to exit 160 people,” Winborn said.
“It was quite apparent to me what it was, and hotels are prohibited in that rural zone.”
Gardiner, who has a master’s degree in urban planning and worked for three tribal governments, consults with Miller on cases specializing in land use regulations, she said.
Gardiner said Clallam County has never had a qualified DCD director in the 16 years that the position has been an elected post, and that includes Winborn.
“It’s time that someone showed up that is qualified,” she said. “The code as it was written at the time it was applied did not discriminate against large structures.
“It was inadequate to address a mansion settling in a rural area.
“It’s grossly inappropriate to use the building code to interpret the zoning code, and that is basically what occurred.”
The following positions drew Clallam County residents who had registered as candidates with the state Public Disclosure Commission for the Nov. 6 election as of Friday:
County Commissioner, partisan: Incumbent Bill Peach, Republican, Forks, no contributions filed.
Sheriff, nonpartisan: Incumbent Bill Benedict, Sequim, no contributions filed.
Prosecuting Attorney (and coroner), partisan: Incumbent Mark Nichols, Republican, Port Angeles, $16,875 in contributions filed.
Treasurer, nonpartisan: Incumbent Teresa Marchi, Port Angeles, no contributions filed.
Assessor, nonpartisan: Incumbent Pam Rushton, Port Angeles, no contributions filed.
Department of Community Development Director, nonpartisan: Incumbent Winborn, Port Angeles, Gardiner, Port Angeles, both no contributions filed.
Port Angeles-area District Court 1, nonpartisan: Suzanne Hayden, Port Angeles; Dave Neupert, Port Angeles, both no contributions filed.
West End-area District Court 2, nonpartisan: John Black, Beaver; Erik Rohrer, Forks, both no contributions filed.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].