Former planner eyes Clallam County Department of Community Development

Open position draws four hopefuls, who are expected to debate in Forks today

Bruce Emery.

Bruce Emery.

PORT ANGELES — A former member of planning staff for the Clallam County Department of Community Development seeks to be elected the office’s director.

Bruce Emery is the fourth person to have filed for the position of director of the county’s Department of Community Development (DCD). The position is now held by Mary Ellen Winborn, who is not seeing reelection.

Others who seek the post are Jesse Major, Cherie Kidd and Kevin Russell.

All four hopefuls for the post will debate at noon today at the Forks Chamber of Commerce. The in-person meeting will be at Blakeslee’s Bar & Grill, 1222 S. Forks Ave., Forks.

A top-two primary election on Aug. 2 will narrow the field to two before the general election on Nov. 8.

Emery, 58, previously served 14 years on the planning staff of the Clallam County Department of Community Development and is currently a project manager for North Pointe Construction.

“Those of us fortunate enough to live on the Olympic Peninsula understand that our quality of life must be protected now and for future generations,” Emery said.

“This is the key mission of the DCD, and my training and professional experience make me uniquely qualified to fill this most important position.

“I have worked on both sides of the counter, which will allow me to effectively lead the department while supporting responsible building and development in Clallam County.”

Clallam is the only county in the nation to elect its community development director. In other counties, it is an appointed post.

“I just didn’t want to see another term come with someone in there who didn’t understand or have the experience to operate that department,” Emery said in an interview.

Emery has worked in the field of land use planning and development for 30 years. In his position at North Pointe, Emery oversees management of subdivisions, legal document research and formation, stormwater reporting and is a liaison with homeowners associations, he said.

Emery said top priorities for the department are affordable housing, fair and consistent enforcement of the county’s land use codes and reestablishing departmental leadership.

“Clallam County is unique in the nation because we have an elected position specifically dedicated to promoting sound, sustainable growth,” Emery said.

“We all want our county to prosper, while at the same time protecting our unparalleled quality of life.”

Emery said his training and background make him the best choice for the post.

“During my time at DCD, I worked with all stakeholders — builders, developers, the planning commission, county commissioners and members of the community — to ensure that planning was expedited competently and correctly.

“My MBA and work in the private sector have given me additional training and experience to successfully do this job with skill and compassion.”

Emery has lived in Port Angeles since 1992. His wife, Victoria, is a school counselor at Jefferson Elementary in Port Angeles. They are active at First Presbyterian Church of Port Angeles, where Bruce serves as a congregational Elder.

“The North Olympic Peninsula has given us so much, and I am very grateful,” Emery said.

“Serving as your next director of the DCD will enable me to use my experience and skills to give back to our community.”

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].