McEntire announces candidacy for Clallam County commissioner

SEQUIM — Jim McEntire, a Sequim Republican, announced Tuesday that he would run for the Clallam County commissioner seat now held by Steve Tharinger.

McEntire, 60, who is a Port of Port Angeles commissioner, said he wanted to move into a more regulatory role to help impact the future of Clallam County.

If elected, he would resign his position on the Port of Port Angeles Commission, he said.

“I am a proven and effective leader,” he said. “I know what it takes to make the right decisions for the benefit of our citizens.

“I know I can serve the people of Clallam County wisely and well — just as I’m doing right now.

“My record as a port commissioner shows that I know how to take on hard issues and achieve results.”

McEntire is the second candidate to announce for the position.

Linda Barnfather, a Sequim Democrat, announced her candidacy last month.

Tharinger, a Sequim Democrat who also is a state legislator, will not seek a fourth term to continue representing the county’s east-side district after his term expires at the end of this year.

McEntire won the vote in Clallam County when he ran against Tharinger in November for the seat representing District 24, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

Tharinger won the districtwide vote in the close race.

Election last year

“After the election last year, a lot of people encouraged me not to foreclose any opportunities that might present themselves,” McEntire said.

“At that time, I hadn’t even thought about [running for commissioner] because I was focused on the legislative race, and it took me awhile to come down from that.

“But after listening to a lot of people, I started to think really seriously about it. I thought I ought not to pass it up,” he said.

“I am not in any way dissatisfied with my current office, but I think I need to think very carefully about opportunities that are present.”

Prior to his election to the Port of Port Angeles in 2007, McEntire was in the Coast Guard.

He retired with the rank of captain in 2000. He also has worked as a consultant for the departments of Transportation, Labor and Homeland Security.

GOP to meet Monday

Dick Pilling, chairman of the Clallam County Republican Party, predicted that at the party meeting Monday, the leadership committee would likely vote to endorse McEntire for the GOP nomination.

“He is a measured and capable candidate and is of a conservative nature,” Pilling said.

“He will be a good steward for the taxpayer, and we are delighted that he has elected to run — because running for office is an exercise in masochism, and I admire anyone for any political group that decides to put their personal life on hold and run.”

Barnfather said she likes McEntire but still feels she is the woman for the job.

“He is a very nice man, and I’m glad it’s him,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to a good race, and I think that Jim McEntire is a good man, but I think I’ll be a better Clallam County commissioner.

“I’m very in touch with the constituency that we have, and I talk to people every day in the county and know what we’re facing.”

Matthew Randazzo, Clallam County Democratic Party chairman, said he was concerned about McEntire’s voting record.

“I welcome Jim McEntire into the race for county commissioner, but, like a lot of voters who rejected Mr. McEntire as a potential state representative just last year, I am troubled by his record of wasteful spending,” he said.

“I’m not sure Clallam County can afford the sort of budget management skills Mr. McEntire displayed on the Port [of Port Angeles] Commission by passionately supporting the fiscally disastrous Harbor-Works Development Authority, which wasted around $1.3 million in public funds — including $350,000 just on attorney fees — to issue bureaucratic reports and conduct failed negotiations for a real estate purchase.

“Imagine what that money could have done for the struggling people of Clallam County.”

Both the port and the city of Port Angeles loaned Harbor-Works $650,000 in 2008.

The public development authority, formed to speed the cleanup of the Rayonier Inc. pulp mill site and explore development of the 75 acres on Port Angeles Harbor, was officially dissolved in October after Rayonier said it would not work with the agency.

Each agency received back about $85,950. Port commissioners forgave $564,053.86 in loans while the Port Angeles City Council forgave $570,450.

Tharinger said he was not surprised by McEntire’s announcement.

“I think it was expected he would throw his hat into the ring,” he said.

“I think we’ll see how it goes for a little while.”

Tharinger has not endorsed a potential successor.

He reiterated that he saw Barnfather as a good candidate.

“I think Linda Barnfather is a balanced and knowledgeable candidate, and I’m a little bit concerned about McEntire‘s ideological balance,” he said.

_________

Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladailynews.com.

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