PORT ANGELES — Candidates John Madden and Mike French differed at a Port Angeles City Council election forum Tuesday on the proof-of-vaccination mandate for restaurants and bars in Clallam County and the role of government grant programs.
The two business owners are vying for Position 2 in the Nov. 2 election. Ballots will be mailed to more than 13,600 city voters in three weeks, on Oct. 13.
Madden and French, the one-term incumbent, echoed views they expressed Friday at a Nor’Wester Rotary forum.
French, a one-term incumbent, supports the health order while Madden is opposed.
“This is something that has to be done with support from the public, and cannot be foisted on people, especially by dictatorial means,” Madden, owner of Ready Remodeling, told Port Angeles Business Association members, using the same description he had used on Friday.
“I’m very sensitive about breaches of the Constitution, and I would just like to see us return to a model that honors the individual choice of the human being,” Madden said.
“The government overreach we are experiencing right now is contrary to the 10th Amendment of the Constitution,” he told Rotary members, referring to states rights and citing Marbury v. Madison, the U.S. Supreme Court case allowing courts to strike down unconstitutional laws — and which he also referred to Tuesday.
He said Friday he felt “discriminated against” by the order, since he has had COVID-19, which does not guarantee that a person won’t get the disease again.
French, owner of First Street Haven restaurant, said Tuesday “a mass vaccination effort” is the only way to stamp out the pandemic.
“Our choices affect other people,” he said.
“We need to be responsible for those choices.
“The policies that the government enacts during a pandemic is based on that simple fact,” he said.
“We had hundreds of thousands people die because of this pandemic, and I think that we all probably thought we were coming out of it a couple months ago, and then the delta spike happened.”
French said Berry “definitely” has the authority to issue the proof-of-vaccination mandate, but he felt she should have given more notice than a few days.
“I hear Mike saying that Allison Berry was within her rights to dictate,” Madden responded.
“I don’t believe she’s a dictator, and I believe that the proper protocols were not followed in order for her to make those demands of free individuals in this society. Laws need to be passed by legislatures,” he said.
“You have to really think about what you’re allowing here.”
The candidates were asked Tuesday how they would address the lack of affordable and available housing.
French said he has focused for four years on keeping government “out of the way” by favoring relaxed setback and density requirements.
Madden emphasized free-market economics.
“There are people who will not be well-fitted toward the situation of owning a three-bedroom, two-bath house with a white picket fence,” he said.
“The American Dream is not available to every single person, and it probably never will be.”
He said lower-income housing should be available, but with the market dynamic of homeowners renting Airbnbs and vacation rentals for profit, there is a limited stock of available rooms.
“Free market society does that, and I don’t think it’s the purview of the city council to interfere with that,” Madden said.
“I believe more people will open up their homes to low-income housing, and that’s going to take some guidance,” he added.
“There are some considerations that need to be addressed in terms of health, community safety and, most of all, contamination of our environment. We’re seeing this in places where the homeless are encamping in different locations in town.”
French said with low-income housing not considered profitable to the private sector, government can play a positive role, citing federal Community Development Block Grants, overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I believe here that we have a belief that the answer is government, government housing, that’s what I hear Mike saying,” Madden responded.
“You have these Community Development Block Grants that come out, and they’re administered to a point, but not as intensively as they need to be managed,” he said.
“Money is thrown at programs. Programs actually promulgate problems in societies,” Madden said.
“There has to be some kind of condition if you’re passing out sleeping bags and free food and all the freebies these people are getting, and they’re just letting garbage pile up around them, and it’s affecting the environment and the safety of the individuals who are the taxpayers.”
Responded French: “My opponent just said CDBG grants are giveaways and equated them to homeless people ruining our community.”
He said that one of the bigger CDBG grants administered by the city in recent years was for a Shore Aquatic Center child care program.
“That is not a freebie or a giveaway,” French said. “That is an asset to our community that helps working families work.”
“I think that’s wonderful,” Madden said.
A video of the PABA forum will be posted by today here.
Voter guides will be published by the state Secretary of State’s Office and the Clallam County elections office.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].