Former Clallam County commissioner aims at old seat; sheriff now faces opposition

Mike Doherty

Mike Doherty

PORT ANGELES — Former Clallam County Commissioner and Democrat Mike Doherty is making another run at his old position in the Nov. 6 general election against incumbent Republican Bill Peach.

And county Sheriff Bill Benedict now faces opposition from his own former detective, Jim McLaughlin, who retired in 2016.

That’s how Day 4 of the five-day candidate filing week shaped up Thursday.

Filing ends today at 4:30 p.m.

Bill Peach

Bill Peach

McLaughlin, 61, a former detective under Benedict who was in the department for 13 years before retiring in 2016, is running “to provide something proactive, something more than what we’ve got,” he said Thursday.

“I believe the Sheriff’s Office has been complacent,” said McLaughlin, a real estate broker with Town & Country real estate in Port Angeles.

“I believe the Sheriff’s Office can do more in the community than we do now, we can do crime control better, we can appear in the community better.”

McLaughlin said he believes Benedict is a good sheriff.

“I just believe I can do the job better,” he said.

Benedict, 67, who was a Clallam County sheriff’s sergeant when he defeated incumbent Sheriff Joe Martin in 2006, ran unopposed in 2010 and 2014 and would retire at the end of his next term in 2022 if he wins re-election, he said.

He said he has not spoken to McLaughlin in at least a year and learned from a text message Thursday afternoon from 24th District state Rep. Mike Chapman of Port Angeles that McLaughlin was running against him.

Benedict touted the county jail and his department’s operations as being the only accredited jail and sheriff’s department operations in the state.

“I don’t think we’re complacent at all,” he said.

“In terms of complacency, I’m on the neighborhood watch circuit at least twice or three times a month, so I wouldn’t accept that.

“We’re probably the most active sheriff’s office when it comes to neighborhood watches probably in the state.

Doherty, 75, a Port Angeles Democrat who cited “dysfunction” on the board of commissioners when he did not seek re-election in 2014, filed Thursday for Peach’s District 3 position, which Doherty held for four consecutive four-year terms before Peach, a Forks resident, was elected that same year.

A frequent speaker at public meetings on the dangers of climate change, Doherty said he does not see the dysfunction on the present board, which also consists of Democrat Mark Ozias and Randy Johnson, an independent from Port Angeles, compared to the board that Doherty served on, which had Republican Jim McEntire of Sequim and Democrat Mike Chapman of Port Angeles.

“I’ve observed the board at some meetings, so I think I could work with both commissioners,” Doherty said.

Doherty is on the executive board of Clallam County Democrats and a member of the county Marine Resources Committee.

“I would kind of disagree with Bill on a few things that we’ll talk about during the campaign, mostly the potential you can do as a county commissioner,” Doherty said.

“I would be a lot more active on a lot more issues.”

Peach, 62, a former Rayonier timber company manager, is on the state Board of Natural Resources.

Peach unsuccessfully challenged Doherty for the District 3 position in 2010, not making it out of the top-two primary.

Doherty attends a lot of commission meetings, “so it doesn’t come as a big surprise” that he’s running again, Peach said Thursday.

“Mike wants to be active, and that’s the reason he’s running.”

Peach added that he is “very committed to is transparency and collaboration.”

Department of Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn of Port Angeles is the only other countywide incumbent with a challenger so far — private-sector land use planner Julie Gardiner of Port Angeles.

Other incumbents who have filed include Republican Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols, Assessor Pam Rushton, Treasurer Teresa Marchi, all of Port Angeles.

Incumbent Clallam County Public Utility District 1, District 3 Commissioner Ted Simpson filed for re-election and is being challenged Jim Waddell of Port Angeles.

Port Angeles-area District Court 1 Judge Rick Porter and West End-area District 2 Judge John Doherty — Mike Doherty’s brother — are not running for re-election.

Port Angeles lawyers Dave Neupert, Pam Lindquist and Suzanne Hayden have filed for District Court 1.

Beaver lawyer John Black and county Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer of Forks have filed for District Court 2.

Candidates also include Chapman, who is being challenged by Port Hadlock Republican Jodi Wilke, a licensed practical nurse who filed for Chapman’s state House Position 1 seat.

McEntire, also a former Port of Port Angeles commissioner, is trying again to unseat four-term Democrat Steve Tharinger of Sequim, a 24th District Position 2 state representative who defeated McEntire in 2010 for the two-year position.

The 24th District covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and the northern half of Grays Harbor County.


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

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