SEQUIM — Sequim City Council candidates Dan Butler, Kathy Downer and Harmony Rutter, all backed by the Sequim Good Governance League (SGGL), were on hand Tuesday evening at SGGL’s election night party in the Holiday Inn Express celebrating a tentative sweep in their races.
After the second ballot count on Wednesday, in the Sequim City Council Position 1 race (four-year term), Downer, a retired nurse who currently holds Position 2 on the council, led with 2,089 votes, or 72.92 percent, over incumbent William Armacost, a Sequim business owner and former Sequim mayor, who garnered 732 votes, or 25.9 percent.
Downer said Tuesday evening that her focus on workforce housing seemed to resonate with voters.
“It’s a huge problem, she said. At least we’re chipping away at it.”
Downer said this campaign was a tough one, filled with a flurry of activities and events to get her message out.
“I tried to do everything,” Downer said, from forums and radio appearances to sign-waving and door-belling.
“It’s a lot of work; you have to want to do it,” she said.
Armacost, who was appointed in 2018 to council and later elected in 2019, could not be immediately reached for comment.
For Downer’s current council Position 2 race (four-year term), Butler, an administrator at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, had garnered 1,785 votes, or 63.12 percent, while Jim Black, a retired software engineer, earned 1,042 votes, or 36.85 percent.
Butler said he felt his campaign did everything it could do. He added that he ran to give voters a choice.
“Positions unopposed are contrary to my values,” he said. “That was my primary motivation for getting involved.”
Black, who could not be reached for comment, said one of his motivations for running was to prevent homelessness from growing in Sequim.
Butler said while serving on the city’s planning commission he realized the growing need for affordable, workforce housing.
“This isn’t a Sequim issue; it’s a national issue,” Butler said. “We’re not going to solve income and equity problems in the City of Sequim if we don’t begin to work on them in the state and nationally.
“We need to respond compassionately, recognizing I have not met anybody who has chosen to be unhoused,” he continued. “How do we listen to those stories and deal with them as individuals instead of a class of unhoused people?”
Butler said the city’s Comprehensive Plan update is the biggest issue ahead as it ties into many of the issues the city is facing.
In the Sequim City Council Position 6 race (four-year term), Harmony Rutter, a self-employed horticulture specialist, earned 1,851 votes, or 66.08 percent, while Day, a retired law enforcement and security officer, garnered 948 votes, or 33.85 percent.
Day could not be immediately reached for comment.
Rutter said in an interview she had a lot of community and family support and believes the city can work together and bring people together in a cohesive way.
She felt people were attentive to her sensitivity for the environment.
“I specifically chose biodegradable signs and rack cards because I think of the future of our planet a lot,” Rutter said.
“I have two small kids and I think to myself, ‘How can I help make sure our climate and world will be able to sustain life for them, their kids and their grandkids?” she added.
Rutter said she plans to encourage fellow council members to think more about residents who “don’t have a lot” and keep moving forward on initiatives for affordable housing and supporting community services.
Echoing Butler, Rutter said the Comprehensive Plan update is a key priority too, and she invites community members to reach out to her and other council members so they can be represented in the city’s plan.
“I’m here to serve you and be a servant of the community,” she said.
Tom Ferrell, Sequim’s mayor, is running unopposed for the council’s four-year, Position 7 seat, and received 99.12 percent of the vote.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, Reach him at email@example.com.