Clallam County incumbents look ahead to upcoming election

PORT ANGELES — Most of Clallam County’s elected officials said in recent interviews that they are mulling running for re-election to their positions.

After all, the May 14-18 candidate filing week for the Nov. 6 general election is barely 18 weeks away.

Those interviewed had good things to say about their jobs.

None said they were moving on to other endeavors.

And Sheriff Bill Benedict said Thursday he intends to run for a fourth term.

Only the county commissioner and prosecuting attorney positions are partisan posts.

Here’s a rundown of Clallam County elected officials and where they stand on taking another shot at public office:

Sheriff Bill Benedict: Benedict said he may have told people he’s been undecided on running for a fourth four-year term, but he was firm about his plans Thursday.

“It is my intention to run,” he said.

“I have some goals I haven’t yet attained with the office that will keep me interested and inspired, for sure.”

He said if he wins, it will be his last term, a decision he will make official in January 2022, the beginning of his final year in office, when he presents to the public his choice as his successor.

“We are doing a fair amount of succession planning,” Benedict said.

“That means I am grooming, if you will, a replacement for when I finish my run.

Benedict said it “would not be appropriate at this time” to announce that person’s name.

“The voters have to have a say in this,” he said.

County Commissioner Bill Peach, Republican: The first-term commissioner, whose District 3 includes western Port Angeles to the Eighth Street bridges, said he feels good about his tenure so far.

“One thing I really appreciate is the way the commissioners have worked together as a team,” the Forks resident said of Sequim-area District 1 Commissioner Mark Ozias and Port Angeles-area District 2 Commissioner Randy Johnson.

Peach, coming to the end of his four-year term, said he liked the idea of getting the word out in January about filing dates for the Nov. 6 election, although he hasn’t made up his mind yet.

Peach attends 75 percent of the commissioners’ weekly meetings to attend monthly state Board of Natural Resources’ sessions, but adds that key board meetings are often deferred so he’s present.

“I feel a little bit bad about that,” he said.

“We are doing some pretty important things at the Board of Natural Resources.

“They have a big impact on Clallam County.”

Department of Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn: Winborn is the only elected DCD director in the United States.

“I go back and forth,” on running for re-election to the four-year term, she said.

The former president and owner of Winborn Architects, Winborn defeated incumbent Sheila Roark Miller in 2014.

“I love this department, I love the job, I love the people here,” Winborn said.

“Five months is a long time,” she said of the filing deadline.

“You never know what’s going to happen.”

Prosecuting Attorney-Coroner Mark Nichols, Republican: Nichols said he is considering his options.

“I will make a decision in 2018 and go from there,” he said.

Nichols was first elected in 2014 to the four-year position, defeating appointed Prosecuting Attorney William Payne, whom county commissioners picked for the job over Nichols in January 2014 when Nichols was the acting prosecuting attorney.

“I love the job and I love the work,” he said.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had, and it may be the best job I’ll ever have.”

Port Angeles-Area District Court 1 Judge Rick Porter: Porter said he expects to make a decision in the next few weeks.

“I’m still in a little bit of limbo right now,” Porter said Thursday as he nears the end of his fourth four-year term.

Porter, who said he is the county’s longest-serving district court judges, added he is not looking for another job.

“This is the best job there is in the legal profession,” he said.

“I’m looking at some other options, but it’s not another job.”

Forks-area District Court 2 Judge John Doherty: Doherty did not return calls or emails for comment on if he is considering running for a second four-year term.

A former District Court 1 judge and Quileute tribal court judge, Doherty was appointed to the District Court 2 position in 2012 to fill the unexpired term of Erik Rohrer, who was elected to Superior Court.

Doherty was unopposed when elected to the position in 2014.

Auditor Shoona Riggs: Riggs is a former Clallam County elections supervisor who won election to her first four-year term in 2014, defeating Kim Yacklin.

“I am definitely considering running again,” she said.

“I enjoy the job, I enjoy what I do, I have worked and been in the office for over twenty years.

“I truly enjoy working here.”

Assessor Pam Rushton: Rushton has won three straight four-year terms unopposed.

“I’m not planning on retiring,” she said.

Her office administers the state property tax system, appraising all taxable real and personal property and placing a market value on that property.

Acting Treasurer Teresa Marchi: Marchi said she will decide whether to run for the four-year position if county commissioners pick her as interim treasurer.

Applications for the interim post are due Monday, when Marchi plans to turn hers in, she said.

She was deputy treasurer when commissioners picked her as acting treasurer Dec. 19 to succeed Selinda Barkhuis, who resigned.

A screening committee consisting of Rushton, Riggs and Human Resources Director Rich Sill will review the applicants before the commissioners make their pick.

“If I am picked, then I will decide if I’m going to run,” Marchi said.

Marchi, who has worked at the treasurer’s office for 35 years, said she has stayed in the office she had as deputy treasurer and expects to remain there if she is named to the interim post.

“I don’t mind waiting on the public,” she said.

“I think it’s part of the job.”

Clallam County Public Utility District 1, District 3 Commissioner Ted Simpson: Simpson said he is considering running for his sixth, six-year position.

“I have been thinking about it, but I have not really reached a decision,” he said.

“At this point, there are a few things I’m not quite sure of yet.”

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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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