Candidates for Charter Review Commission, District 3, participate in a League of Women Voters forum in Forks on Tuesday. Candidates Brian Hunter, Kenneth Reandeau, Rod Fleck, Nina Sarmiento, Therese Stokan and Andrew May attended, while others either did not attend or sent surrogates. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Candidates for Charter Review Commission, District 3, participate in a League of Women Voters forum in Forks on Tuesday. Candidates Brian Hunter, Kenneth Reandeau, Rod Fleck, Nina Sarmiento, Therese Stokan and Andrew May attended, while others either did not attend or sent surrogates. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Charter Review Commission hopefuls speak in Forks

FORKS — Candidates for the District 3 positions on the 15-person Charter Review Commission participated in a League of Women Voters forum in Forks on Tuesday, with some candidates proposing issues that the commission should consider while others said amendment suggestions should come from the people.

The top five people from each of the county’s three districts will be elected during the November general election to propose amendments to the Clallam County Charter. Voters would then vote on any proposed amendments.

Attending

Those who attended the forum Tuesday included Brian Hunter, Kenneth Reandeau, Rod Fleck, Nina Sarmiento, Therese “Tree” Stokan and Andrew May.

Candidates Lisa Unger, Joseph Murray and Deborah Cooke sent surrogates in their place. Mike French and Don Corson did not attend or send surrogates.

Clallam County is one of a handful of charter counties in the state, which allows it to operate differently than counties like Jefferson County, which does not have a charter.

Two examples of differences is that Clallam County’s charter allows it to have the only elected Director of the Department of Community Development and, unlike many other counties, the Superior Court Clerk is appointed. The charter also makes it so that county commissioners are elected only by the voters in the district in which they are running.

Reandeau said his two biggest areas of interest include the county’s transition to developing a Finance Department and the autonomy department heads, particularly with the Department of Community Development.

“What I see in the charter, it speaks to an administrative assistant, but it does not speak to a finance department or a CFO so much,” he said.

Reandeau said he wants to look closer at the county hiring a third-party in Oregon to review a permit application for a proposed bed and breakfast. The developer, Judy Lee, sued the county and DCD Director Mary Ellen Winborn when Winborn determined the proposed building was actually a hotel and could not be built on property Lee purchased.

Lee and the county entered into mediation Monday.

Hunter said he has a list of issues he is interested in, but spoke mostly of trust lands and process.

“I’m not sure from reading the charter itself how much detail you get into,” he said. “I want to make sure there’s an understanding of how that process works.”

Stokan said the top issue she would like to see addressed is potable water in the county and also look for ways to ban smart meters and 5G technology.

She said there are health and safety concerns with smart meters and 5G.

“I want you to remember that years ago when the tobacco companies were trying to tell us there was no harm, this is very reminiscent of that,” Stokan said.

Stokan said she is also committed to seeing representation from all of the county’s tribes at the county.

“I live in Neah Bay, I work in Port Angeles, but I’m very aware of the perspective of Native Americans and this is long overdue,” Stokan said.

Rod Fleck, Forks city attorney and who has served on the commission in the past, said he doesn’t have any specific issues that he wants the Charter Review Commission to consider, but that he wants to hear from citizens.

“The amendment process to the charter should be driven by the public saying … versus the commissioners saying “I want to write the charter in my own image,’” Fleck said.

Fleck said he is less interested in the commission proposing amendments on issues citizens have already voted on, such as whether the DCD director should be an elected position

He said it would not be appropriate to ask voters to reconsider measures they have already decided on.

“I suspect we will hear people talk about the DCD director and we will hear people talk about changing the way county commissioners are elected back to the former system,” he said. “The voters made their decisions so our job is to empower that.”

May, of Port Angeles, said he is interested in canvassing the district to see if there are popular views on changes.

“It is our job not to have our individual agendas and to speak for our district,” May said. “That’s not to say, certainly I’ll vote one way or another if these issues make it in front of us, but now I’m interested in finding out if there are issues unique to this district or in common with the other districts.”

May said he anticipates hearing about new technology, water and climate change. He expects to see “housekeeping” measures as well.

Sarmiento, of Port Angeles, described her candidacy as her introduction into politics and said she is interested in hearing what people have to say.

She said she wants to look for opportunities to be proactive in mitigating climate change.

She said she is interested in learning more about trust lands and water supplies.

“These are all things I hope to create conversations about in the future.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

Editors Note: Andrew May writes a gardening column for the Peninsula Daily News

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