PORT ANGELES — Sequim business owner Todd Negus, who last week dropped out of the general election race for a Port Angeles City Council position against Jim Moran, said he has some advice for prospective future political candidates: Take full measure of the position being sought and don’t over-listen to your supporters.
But Marolee Smith, who finished third in the Aug. 1 primary to Negus and Moran, now the presumptive general election winner, said Friday she was shocked by Negus’ decision.
She said Negus should have dropped out before the primary to give voters a choice in the Nov. 7 general election.
Negus announced his withdrawal as a Position 1 candidate in the Nov. 7 election on Thursday night in an email to the Peninsula Daily News — just two days after he and Moran were certified as the Aug. 1 primary election winners, moving them to the general election ballot.
Negus said in the email that earlier Thursday he had “conceded” the race to Moran, the former Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce board president, who gained nearly half the primary votes.
“I have gotten to know my opponent Jim Moran personally and professionally and I believe he will do a fantastic job representing Port Angeles in Position 1,” he said Friday in a prepared statement to the PDN.
Negus explained Friday in an interview that he had underestimated the time and effort it would take to balance his full-time job with campaigning for office and fulfilling the responsibilities of being a City Council member.
Negus is president of OSP Sling. Inc., a manufacturer of cargo nets and web slings that employs 31 workers.
“I apologize,” Negus said. “I’m kicking myself in the butt.”
His advice for all political candidates: “Be sure you are personally committed before you enter the process.
“I would say, do your research on how much is involved and what the process is as far as a primary election and general election, [and on] all the forums you have to participate in and the time that it will take.
“It’s a big deal.”
Negus also urged potential future candidates to be careful about heeding people who urge them to run.
“I did get influenced a bit by people who encouraged me to run,” he said. “I shouldn’t have made that part of the reason I ran.”
In the primary, Moran garnered 45.4 percent of the primary election votes (1,635) to Negus’ 34.1 percent (1,228 votes) and Smith’s 20.49 percent (738 votes).
“I’m actually kind of shocked by all of this,” Smith said Friday upon learning of Negus’ withdrawal.
Negus should have dropped out of the race before the Aug. 1 primary, Smith said.
“He could have figured this out two weeks ago and made it easier for everybody,” she said. “I think it’s a complete slap in the face to the people of Port Angeles.
“Why wouldn’t you do your homework?
“The last thing we need is more unopposed races.”
In separate interviews Friday, Negus said he had spent at least $3,500 of his own money on his campaign, while Moran said he spent about that much.
“I still have a gazillion flyers,” Moran said.
He said he would cover the loan to his campaign with his monthly City Council salary.
The pay is $650 for the mayor, $600 for the deputy mayor and $550 for the other five council members.
Though headed for victory, Moran said he’s not done campaigning.
“I don’t want to take the folks for granted,” he said. “I feel an obligation to still do some doorbelling and make sure people know who I am.”
Moran said he was surprised that Negus is bowing out.
“To step away takes some personal courage, and I admire that,” Moran said. “Obviously, the guy has high moral character.”
In departing the race, Negus also praised Moran, calling him “a stand-up guy.”
“I feel that Jim Moran is in a position where he would represent the city of Port Angeles better than me as far as time he has to put on the council,” Negus said.
“He’s already ahead of me as far as what he’s researched and having the time.
“I like his opinions on what he wants to do for the city of Port Angeles.”
Negus said he would continue donating his time and money to community causes.
Negus’ name will remain on the general election ballot, which goes out to voters in about eight weeks, on Oct. 18.
Filing week was May 15-19. The deadline for candidates to withdraw their names and not be listed on the general election ballot was May 22.
The Position 1 seat that Negus had filed for is held by Brad Collins, who is not seeking re-election.
Three other City Council races — all contested — are also on the general election ballot.
Port Angeles business owners Mike French and Jake Oppelt will vie for the Position 2 seat held by incumbent Lee Whetham, who did not advance past the primary.
Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, a lawyer, and Artur Wojnowski, maintenance manager for the Dungeness Meadows Home Owners Association, are running for the Position 3 seat held by Mayor Patrick Downie.
Travis Berglund, a financial adviser, and Kate Dexter, who has a master’s degree in public administration, will vie for Position 4, held by Dan Gase.
Gase and Downie are not running for re-election to the four-year seats.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].