PORT TOWNSEND — The race to replace retiring District 1 County Commissioner Phil Johnson will most likely have a primary contest since three people have expressed interest in the position.
Cynthia Koan announced Tuesday her intention to file for the seat in a race for which Kate Dean, North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation & Development Council manager, and contractor Tim Thomas have said they will be candidates.
All three are running as Democrats.
The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 2 primary will advance to the Nov. 8 general election regardless of party affiliation.
“I’m running because there are some big challenges coming our way,” said Koan, 53.
“I’m worried about the comprehensive plan process and how the county’s human and monetary resources might be in the way of doing the real innovative and evolutionary and revolutionary things we need to do in the county.”
Koan said she will address water issues and global warming, pointing out that the county commissioners can look at such issues because they have a say about how land is being used.
“We have a lot of water issues. We have too much in some areas and not enough in others,” she said.
Koan is currently a computer consultant and serves as chairwoman of the Jefferson County Planning Commission, which she joined in 2015.
Both jobs provide her with background that would help her as county commissioner, she said.
It is important to have the right computer equipment, she said, saying it is essential the equipment match employees’ work routine.
“This is a very large county with the county seat tucked into one corner,” Koan said.
“We could benefit from a system like what the city of Port Townsend has, where meetings can be recorded and streamed for later viewing, which will give more people direct access to their government.”
Koan said she intended to run for the county commission before she joined the planning commission, using that experience as preparation for moving up.
Throughout the past year, she has attended several county commission meetings to help her understand the job and what it requires.
“I think I understand their jobs as well as anyone on the outside could,” she said.
During this planning period, Koan suspected that Johnson would not run for a fourth term.
It wasn’t a certainty until Johnson’s announcement last month.
It was also uncertain if she would have challenged Johnson.
“I’m not sure I would have run against him,” Koan said.
“He was a student in my mother’s English class the year she became pregnant with me,” she said.
“I’ve known him all my life and have a great deal of respect for him.
Koan, who graduated from Port Townsend High School in 1981, is the daughter of Richard Wojt, who served three terms as commissioner from 1990 to 2002.
She plans to campaign in an “old school” way by knocking on doors — and plans to do this while riding her bicycle, at least before the primary where she campaigns outside of her district.
Koan didn’t intend to announce her candidacy until filing week, May 16-20, but changed her plans to speak at a Democratic Party meeting Tuesday where both Dean and Thomas were expected to speak.
Koan said she still plans to delay campaigning until all candidates have filed.
“Our election season is long enough,” she said.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or [email protected]