Contested race shapes up for Port Angeles City Council election

Jake Oppelt

Jake Oppelt

PORT ANGELES — The first contested race for a Port Angeles City Council position has emerged with the approach of filing week for the Nov. 7 general election.

Port Angeles businessman Jake Oppelt, 34, announced his candidacy Friday for the four-year Position 2 seat held by Lee Whetham, who reiterated Saturday that he intends to run for a second term.

Candidates will file for office May 15-19.

Oppelt, co-owner of Next Door Gastropub, the Maurices building, Moss clothing store, the Lincoln Theater and the West Coast League Port Angeles Lefties baseball team, “looks forward to helping lead our community in a positive and healthy direction,” he said in a prepared statement.

“From my experiences growing up in Port Angeles and moving into local business and community involvement, I have made the decision to direct my efforts to improve and promote Port Angeles from not only a private sector standpoint, but public service as well.”

The Port Angeles native said Saturday he picked Position 2 because financial adviser Travis Berglund, lawyer Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin and Jim Moran, owner of a third-party administration firm for pension and profit-sharing plans, have already announced for the other three council positions up for election.

“I’d like to be part of creating some new candidacies, so I chose Position 2,” said Oppelt, a class of 2002 Port Angeles High School graduate.

“I’d like to bring some new blood, and I thought this was a better chance to get as many people with new blood as possible.”

Oppelt, who has never run for or held elective office, said he will vote against fluoridating city water in a Nov. 7 advisory ballot, adding that he does not believe municipalities should “medicate” residents through the water supply.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” he said. “We as a city need to get this voted on and move on.”

Fluoridation of water was halted in August and the advisory vote will give the council guidance on future action.

Oppelt also will vote against changing the city’s form of government from a code city to second-class status, which the city council voted to put on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The change could be “detrimental” to the city, he said.

“I’d like us to stay a code city,” Oppelt said.

Oppelt joins Berglund, Schromen-Wawrin, Moran — and Whetham — in opposing second-class-city status.

Whetham would not comment Saturday on Oppelt’s candidacy.

He still intends to run for re-election, he said, and will have more to say when he files for the position.

“I’m not ready to get in the ring yet,” Whetham said. “I’m glad to see the volume of folks that want to help our community.”

Mayor Patrick Downie and council members Brad Collins and Dan Gase have said they will not run for re-election.

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

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