PORT TOWNSEND — More than 100 people heard from candidates for the House of Representatives 24th district positions 1 and 2 at a candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women.
The two-hour debate on Wednesday night was moderated by attorney Rick Shaneyfelt at the Port Townsend Community Center.
Position 2 incumbent Democrat Steve Tharinger of Sequim and challenger Jim McEntire, a Sequim Republican, and Position 1 candidates Democrat Mike Chapman of Port Angeles, the incumbent, and Republican challenger Jodi Wilke of Port Townsend took turns making their positions known.
The candidates will compete in the general election on Nov. 7. All four will appear on the Aug. 6 primary ballot but all will also advance to the general election. The 24th District encompasses Jefferson and Clallam counties and much of Grays Harbor County.
Tharinger, who was first elected in 2010, chairs the Capital Budget Committee and has served on the Appropriations and Health Care and Wellness committees.
McEntire, a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, retired as a captain. He spent six years in Washington, D.C., as a civil servant and retired from the federal government. He’s lived in Sequim since 2006. He served a term as a Port of Port Angeles commissioner and succeeded Tharinger on the Clallam County Board of Commissioners for one term.
Questions for the candidates focused on universal background checks, a carbon tax, comprehensive health care, single payer health care, public K-12 education funding, housing and mental health.
Linda Martin, a representative of the health care committee of the activist group PT Indivisble, said that Jefferson County lacks sexual assault nurse examiner services (SANE) and that if there is to be a rape kit and evidence taken, a victim has to drive to Kitsp County.
Said McEntire: “Seems like this is worthy of consideration by the Legislature as a state assist to local law enforcement when the cases arise of rape. We should take a hard look and provide additional help.”
Said Tharinger: “We’re following up right now and are in the process of particularly the kits themselves and the staff to do the exam. We are on this topic. I think all of us in this room want our loved ones, if they have this serious event happen in their lives, that they have the right medical facilities and kits and expertise to make sure the evidence is there to catch the perpetrator. “
Chapman was a 16-year Clallam County commissioner and had a 10-year law enforcement career.
Wilkie worked to defeat the Proposition 1 campaign. She is a licensed practical nurse, and has been a construction worker and a journeyman laborer, a boatbuilder, and worked in other industries.
Jon Cooke, a candidate for county commissioner, asked a question that suggested the growth management act is curbing growth in counties.
“The reality is that I could not get a Republican to co-sponsor a bill,” Chapman said. “We could have reduced some of the restrictions for affordable housing on faith-based pieces of property which could have expanded to other nonprofits. Churches want to help. I’ll bring it back. We’ll move it forward.”
Wilke countered: “Why limit to churches? We should give more local control to the use of the land and allow them to do more. Give incentives for builders to do things like partner with infrastructure for street building, the lights, power access that can be shared costs not just born by the developers.”
The next candidate forum will be at 7 p.m. July 9 at the Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St. Candidates for Jefferson County Sheriff incumbent are David Stanko and Joe Nole; and candidates for Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney are incumbent Michael Haas and James M. Kennedy.
The last of the forums on Wednesday, July 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. will bring together all four of the candidates for county commissioner, District 3: Greg Brotherton, Jon Cooke, Ryan McAllister and Craig Durgan at the Beach Club at Port Ludlow, 121 Marina View Drive .
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]