Conservative group recruiting candidates in Clallam County

Sequim, Port Angeles council elections the focus of training effort

PORT ANGELES — As candidate filing week reached its midpoint Wednesday, a Sequim-based conservative political group was recruiting and training candidates for up to nine nonpartisan Port Angeles and Sequim city council races up for election Nov. 2.

“We are active in both those city council races,” Independent Advisory Association organizer Jim McEntire of Sequim said Wednesday.

“We are active in most, if not all, of the Port Angeles City Council races,” he said.

“There’s a fair bit of sentiment in Port Angeles that the things they are worrying about are national matters too much and not enough about local matters,” said McEntire, a former Republican Clallam County commissioner and former Port of Port Angeles commissioner.

“We try to find and help centrist candidates or center-right candidates or center-populist candidates,” McEntire said, adding Libertarians to the list.

McEntire said the group, which includes co-organizer and longtime political activist Donnie Hall of Sequim, does not take money for its services or conduct lobbying. The group’s website is restoreclallam.com.

“We’re just a couple of guys who are able to help out,” McEntire said.

McEntire confirmed the IAA’s support of Sequim City Council candidate Sarah Kincaid but said he would not discuss ties with others vying for office until Friday, when the filing period ends.

Candidates filing for 37 offices grew to 51 as of late Wednesday afternoon, including Virginia R. Sheppard. She is running for the at-large Sequim School Board Position 4 seat held by School Board President Brandino Gibson.

Derek Huntington filed late Tuesday afternoon, joining candidate Rachel Tax and creating Clallam County’s first three-way race for the Aug. 3 primary ballot.

Gibson had not filed for the position as of Wednesday afternoon and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Jon Bruce, enrolled in the Peninsula Community College nursing program and a one-year Port Angeles resident, filed late Tuesday for the Port Angeles City Council position held by Mayor Kate Dexter, a PCC nursing program assistant.

Bruce, characterizing himself as an independent who “has been on the conservative side of issues,” said he had not heard of the IAA and did not know Dexter was running.

One of the IAA’s first clients was Sequim Mayor William Armacost.

“We kind of got him started,” McEntire said.

Armacost disavowed any affiliation with the far-right conspiracy group QAnon when pressed in a Jan. 29 CNN interview after saying in an Aug. 27 radio interview that QAnon is a “movement that encourages you to think for yourself.”

He has written on his Facebook page, “WWG1WGA,” which is an abbreviation for the QAnon motto “Where we go one, we go all.”

McEntire said the IAA would not help a candidate it knew was affiliated with or sympathized with the movement and that Armacost had made clear his opposition to QAnon, which he compared to neo-Nazis and the far-right Proud Boys.

Steven C. Blackham filed Wednesday for the Olympic Medical Center commissioner position held by longtime board member Jim Leskinovich, who said Tuesday he will decide by Friday whether to seek re-election. Heather Jeffers also has filed for the six-year at-large Hospital District 2 seat.

Four of five Sequim City Council positions had contested races as of Wednesday afternoon, including Position 6, which Lowell Rathbun filed for Wednesday.

Appointed incumbent Keith Larkin registered Tuesday for the position with the state Public Disclosure Commission and has issued a press release announcing his intention to run but had not filed as of Wednesday afternoon.

Duane Chamlee also filed Wednesday for Sequim-area Fire District 3, Position 1, joining Jeff Nicholas to make it a contested race.

All three Forks City Council races are contested. Incumbent Joe Soha filed late Monday to run against Sarah Holmes.

McEntire said the IAA has not recruited or helped the Forks candidates.

Below is a complete list of those who had filed for the Nov. 2 election as of mid-afternoon Wednesday:

• Port of Port Angeles commissioner: Colleen McAleer, Sequim-area District 1; Steven Burke, Port Angeles-area District 2.

Port Angeles City Council: LaTrisha Suggs, Adam Garcia, Position 1; Mike French, Position 2; Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, Jena Stamper, Position 3; Kate Dexter, Jon Bruce, Position 4.

Sequim City Council: Sarah Kincaid, Kathy Downer, Position 2; Vicki L. Lowe, Mike Pence, Position 3; Rachel Anderson, Position 4; Brandon Janisse, Patrick Day, Position 5; Lowell Rathbun, Position 6.

Forks City Council: Tim Fletcher, Steve Wright, Mayor; Barbara Neilhouse, Clinton W. Wood, Position 2; Sarah Holmes, Joe Soha, Position 3.

Clallam County Hospital District 1 (Forks Community Hospital): Donald Lawley, Position 3; Sarah Huling, Linda Offutt, at-large Position 5.

Clallam County Hospital District 2 (Olympic Medical Center): J. Thomas Oblak, District 1, Position 2; Thom Hightower, District 3, Position 1; Heather Jeffers, Steven C. Blackham, at-large.

Port Angeles School Board: Sarah Methner, Position 1; Jean M. Stratton, Position 2.

Cape Flattery School Board: Janine Ledford, District 1; Michael Lawrence, District 2.

Sequim School Board: Patrice Johnston, Position 2; Rachel Tax, Derek Huntington, Virginia R. Sheppard, at-large Position 4.

Crescent School Board: Sandy Middleton, Position 1; Joey Currie, Position 2.

Forks-area Fire District 1: Tony Romberg, Position 5.

Port Angeles-area Fire District 2: Keith Cortner, Position 2.

Sequim-area Fire District 3: Jeff Nicholas, Duane Chamlee, Position 1.

Joyce-area Fire District 4: Terry Barnett, Position 4.

Clallam Bay-area Fire District 5: Greg Bellamy Sr., Position 2.

La Push-area Fire District 6: Tom Rosmond, Position 3.

Clallam County Park and Recreation District 1 (Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center-YMCA): Ray L. Henninger; Position 1; Frank Pickering, Position 2.

Quillayute Park and Recreation District: Donald Grafstrom, Position 1.

Sunland Water District: Alan Frank, Position 3.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

EDITOR’S NOTE: The nighttime closure of the Hood Canal Bridge has necessitated earlier deadlines to allow the Peninsula Daily News to get printed newspapers back from the press in Everett in time for delivery this morning. That means all filings on Wednesday may not be included in this story. They will be picked up on Thursday for Friday’s paper. An overnight closure of the bridge also is planned tonight.