Community development director candidates emphasize experience at forum in Forks

EDITOR’S NOTE — This is the last of a two-part series on a candidates forum in Forks this week.

FORKS — Candidates for Clallam County’s community development director emphasized their experience as they addressed an audience of about 75 at a forum earlier this week.

Attending Monday’s forum in Forks were four of the five who are on the Aug. 17 primary ballot: incumbent John Miller, 61, of Port Angeles, who is seeking a second term; Sheila Roark Miller, 51, of Carlsborg, a code compliance officer and deputy fire marshal; Alan Barnard, 65, of Port Angeles, a real estate broker and firm co-owner; and Tim Woolett, 54, of Port Angeles, a former county senior land-use planner.

Sean Ryan, 48, of Port Angeles, a business owner and volunteer firefighter, was invited but did not attend.

The forum, sponsored by the Forks Chamber of Commerce and the Forks Forum, the weekly newspaper, will be followed by another in October, after the Aug. 17 primary narrows the candidates to two in each race.

In Washington state’s top-two primary, the candidates who receive the most votes will, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

Primary ballots were mailed July 28.

The community development director position, which pays from $64,2111 to $70,877 annually, consists of enforcing and advising county commissioners on laws related to land use permits, land and shoreline development, natural resources, zoning, building and fire codes, mining and agriculture.

It is one of the few, if not the only, community development director positions in the nation that is elected.

Experience

John Miller, who seeks a second term, said that he has had 3 ½ years’ experience managing a department of 32 people.

“I have the track record. I’m proud of what I’ve done,” he said.

Among his accomplishments, he said, was helping to renew the processes for Water Resources Inventory Areas 19 and 20 — the Lyre-Hoko watershed and the Sol Duc-Hoh watershed, respectively, although with more success in WRIA 20.

Roark Miller, who is not related to John Miller, told the group she has been in the county’s building division for 20 years, and is a certified building code and fire code officer. She also is an accountant, she said, and worked six years as a stock broker.

She has roots in the North Olympic Peninsula, she added.

“You want to have somebody there who knows the area and who will encourage staff to take you seriously,” she said.

Woolett said his seven years’ experience in county land-use planning means that he understands the system.

“I know where it’s broke and how to fix it,” he said.

He said that if he were elected, “I can guarantee you that the West End won’t be orphaned.”

Barnard emphasized that his career has been in the private sector and said he would bring an “entrepreneurial approach.”

“The department needs a change in culture . . . there is some controversy about the service level,” he said.

“We will benefit from more successful outcomes.”

Questions

Asked what could be done about setbacks — which is the minimum distance permitted between a structure and the shoreline — in the update of the county’s Shoreline Master Program, candidates said.

John Miller: Setbacks in the plan, which is now in the process of being updated, are likely to be heavily influenced by the federal flood insurance program, he said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency “will probably rule this fall on what setbacks are needed to qualify for federal the flood insurance program,” he said.

Woolett: Setbacks must be consistent with the critical areas ordinance, he said.

Roark Miller: Under her management, the staff would know different areas well and be able to provide specific information about regulations.

Barnard: He said he would have to defer to others on the question.

Asked how they would prevent “the further down-zoning of land in the West End,” saying some areas were limited to one home on a 5-acre parcel, the candidates said:

Woolett: It is the county commission that adopts zoning ordinances, he said, adding that he wasn’t aware of down-zoning in the West End.

Barnard: He referred to the effect of the state Growth Management Act in Carlsborg and also said he was not aware of down-zoning in the West End.

Roark Miller: She was affected by down-zoning on her small farm in Sequim and was “upset that I was having something taken away from me,” she said. “It’s nice to have options.

“I would do as much as I could,” she said, adding that she would not choose down-zoning.

John Miller: He said he sympathized with his three challengers because the “complexity of the Growth Management Act is daunting.”

He said that the county had prevailed in Superior Court on the issue of zoning, and the case is now before the state Court of Appeals, with a ruling expected next year.

“I think we did everything we could to defend property owners with R2 and Rw2 zoning,” he added, saying that the county now has 37 rural conservation zones.

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Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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