PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles business owner Bob Stokes said Sunday evening he misidentified Port Angeles City Council candidate Jena Stamper as the woman who approached him last week and offered to cover his fines if he violated COVID-19 mandates.
“I was wrong,” Stokes said Sunday.
“I [messed] up.
“I made a false assumption.”
Stokes told Peninsula Daily News for a story that ran on Page A1 Sunday that Stamper had made the offer from a campaign by opponents of a health mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations. The opponents want to help scofflaws of the mandate at restaurants in Port Angeles and Sequim, according to restaurant owners.
Stamper said she has had nothing to do with the campaign to encourage businesses to defy the mandate issued by Dr. Allison Berry, North Olympic Peninsula health officer, requiring proof of vaccination from customers before they can sit indoors in bars and restaurants in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
“I have not canvassed any businesses or told people to violate the mandate,” Stamper said Monday morning.
“I have gone out and purchased gift cards from local restaurants. I have ordered takeout from local restaurants. I’m doing everything I can to to support our local restaurants.”
Stamper said by email on Monday that she had never met Stokes until Monday morning. “I only go downtown for very specific things,” she said in the email. “Not just to walk around.”
Stamper is running in the Nov. 2 general election for the Position 3 seat on the Port Angeles City Council, challenging incumbent Lindsay Schromen-Wawrin.
Stokes said the woman with whom he spoke did not introduce herself.
It is not clear who the woman was.
Stokes said Stamper visited his business Monday to find out how he identified her as the woman who made the offer.
“I apologized and said I was just thinking about reaching out to you, and you beat me to it,” Stokes said Monday.
“I said I just had wrong information. She was fine” with the explanation, Stokes said.
Peninsula Daily News left two voicemail messages for Stamper prior to the Sunday story asking her if she was offering to pay the fines of businesses which violated vaccination and masking mandates, one specifically including Stokes.
The calls were not returned.
Stamper said Monday by email that she checks her campaign phone only periodically and did not hear the messages until Monday. She said she received no messages on her cell phone. The voicemail was full on that phone.
Stamper said Monday she thought that since she had not confirmed Stokes’ report, the story should not have included her name.
The story was run because it quoted a local businessman and attempts had been made to reach Stamper, said Executive Editor Leah Leach.
“Upon reflection, it could have been handled differently,” Leach said. “The Peninsula Daily News could have done more to confirm Stokes’s statement in light of Stamper’s lack of response.”