PORT ANGELES — Candidates for the District 2 positions on the 15-person Charter Review Commission participated in a League of Women Voters forum in Port Angeles on Wednesday.
The top five people from each of the county’s three districts will be elected during the November general election to propose amendments to the Clallam County Charter. Voters would then vote on any proposed amendments.
District 2 candidates who attended the forum included Steven Wyall, William Kildall, Ian Nickel, Mary Doherty, Nick Spaeder, Patti Morris, Diane Haffner, Kraig Kyllo, Marolee Smith, Ron Cameron, Nina Richards, Jane Vanderhoof and Elizabeth Athair.
Allen Coleman, Wendy Clark Getzin and Jerry Weider did not attend. Norma Turner, who has served on all but one of the Charter Review Commissions, did not attend due to a family medical issue, but had a statement read for her.
Wyall, originally from Salt Lake City but moved to Port Angeles in 2004, told the crowd that he began his career as a mediator in Utah, where he handled cases in small claims court.
Wyall graduated from Peninsula College and had worked on the Elwha River Restoration project before earning a bachelor’s degree in urban planning.
“I’m not coming to the table thinking I have my own agenda, or plan, or know what’s best,” he said. “I really feel like it’s all of us that makes it happen.”
Kildall described himself as a lifelong resident of Washington state who was born in Tacoma and is now spending his retirement in Clallam County, where he has lived for 14 years.
He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a doctorate and has worked as a history and political science teacher, before becoming the director of negotiations and policy development for the Federal Way School District.
“That required me to draft and submit to the board policies, regulations and ordinances that the board would follow in managing the school district,” Kildall said.
He later became the superintendent of the Darrington School District before he started work as a counselor with crime victims in child abuse cases and as an expert witness.
Nickel, a member of Olympic Climate Action, said that though he is not originally from Port Angeles, he has lived in rural areas all his life, including in New Mexico and Nebraska.
He spoke about his experience in college, where he said he learned the importance of public service.
After college he moved to Washington state and moved to Port Angeles in 2014 to finish his service with AmeriCorps. He has worked building trails, planting trees during the Elwha River Restoration Project and helped during disasters such as the Oso mudslide.
“I believe I have an uncanny ability not only to build relationships and lead a diverse group of people, but if elected I would be a strong voice for the youth and help bridge that generational gap of understanding,” he said.
Vanderhoof said she has lived in Clallam County since 1991, when she moved from southern California to escape the development of the area.
She was a registered nurse in California and continued her nursing career in Sequim and later moved to a farm in Joyce, where her family farmed organic produce to be sold at the Port Angeles Farmers Market.
She serves on the county’s noxious weed control board.
“I’ve read the charter and I’m wondering why the prosecuting attorney is a partisan position,” she said. “I would like to learn why some of these things are happening and look at ways we can make a difference.”
Doherty told the audience she grew up in Port Angeles in a family that discussed civics and service at the dinner table.
She left Port Angeles, but returned 50 years later after being heavily involved in the community in Yakima, she said.
She worked more than 40 years in community colleges as a faculty member and as a dean.
She has served on a school board, hospital board and several terms on the governor’s council for people with disabilities.
“Charter review gives a citizen-driven voice as to how government works,” she said.
She said candidates should not come “loaded with self-serving issues,” and said it is “not a place for grinding axes.”
Spaeder, a former Navy SEAL, said he is running for Charter Review Commission because “I love the place we call home.”
“I wasn’t born here, but I made a choice to be here and I’ve called this place home longer than any other place I’ve lived,” he said. “Clallam County has been really good to me since I moved here in 1998.”
Spaeder talked about his time as a Boy Scout and his military service. When he moved to the area he became a volunteer firefighter with Clallam Fire District 3 but then worked as a firefighter at South King Fire and Rescue.
“Because of the work schedule I was able to continue living here and didn’t have to move to the other side of the Sound,” he said.
He now helps teach rescue swimming courses to first responders and has volunteered to help the fire district in the development of its water rescue program, he said.
Morris said she has lived in Clallam County for 20 years and that she is a member of the League of Women Voters. She spent her career working in the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office and the Port Angeles School District, but now owns a small consulting business and sells real estate, she said.
“I was elected to a prior Charter Review Commission, so I’m familiar with the process,” she said.
“I don’t come forward with any agenda at all because the charter is a listening session where you listen to what constituents say,” she said.
Haffner said she moved to Clallam County in 1994 and has raised her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren here.
She said she does not have an agenda, but she said the Charter Review Commission has asked voters to reconsider amendments they had already voted on.
“We have in the past put issues out for amendment to the voters that were on the vote last time and it wasn’t like it was a close little squeaky race … but we’re still asking voters to vote again,” she said. “They were consistent and they voted it in. We need to not do that again.”
Kyllo described himself as a lifelong resident of Port Angeles.
“The reason I decided to run for the Charter Review Commission is because of my concern for the people of Clallam County and the certain issues that could have a significant impact on quality of life,” he said.
Kyllo said he has worked to educate the public about the potential dangers of smart meters.
“Countywide, they are starting to be installed and residents are not aware of the potential privacy, health and security risks they represent to our families and businesses,” he said. “The language used by companies to promote smart meters … sounds reminiscent of what the tobacco industry did.”
Smith, a writer and researcher, told the audience she likes to read things most people avoid.
“I enjoy reading legal briefs, I like reading city and county ordinances, I like reading contracts and I have really enjoyed the county charter,” she said.
She said she has read the charter several times and that she doesn’t think the county prosecuting attorney should be a partisan position. She also doesn’t believe the prosecuting attorney should also serve as the coroner.
“The problem with having the county coroner also be the prosecuting attorney is that it’s a big job,” she said.
She suggested there should also be an office of citizen complaints and that the commission should consider increasing the number of county commissioners from three to five.
Cameron, county undersheriff, said he has worked in county government for 35 years and that he understands the inner-workings of the the county.
“I try to pay particular attention to the West End,” he said. “This is a diverse community we live in and one of the grassroots thing we can do is have the home rule charter.”
He said his experience in government would help commissioners proceed through charter review to fine tune the charter.
“I think that I can benefit the commission because I have had some experience through the county,” he said.
Richards, a high school librarian for more than 30 years, said she is running for charter review commission because she is a good listener.
“As a commissioner, one has to listen to all the citizens in the county as to what they want and they need,” she said. “I think I would be a good member of the charter review commission.”
Athair, a nurse, said she has always been in the background, but she is ready to stand up.
She said she is concerned for the well-being for everyone with the implementation of 5G technology.
“I want to give voice to the creatures and the animals and the vegetation that can’t speak for itself on these issues,” she said. “I’m pleased to hear so many voices that we can gather together and make this the best place for ourselves.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].