Incumbent draws two challengers for legislative race

Chapman faces Forde, Svoboda in primary

Mike Chapman

Mike Chapman

A woman who heads the Clallam County Republican Party and a man who doesn’t believe in women’s suffrage are running in the Aug. 4 primary against two-term incumbent state Rep. Mike Chapman of Port Angeles.

Chapman, a Democrat, drew Sue Forde of Sequim and a self-described “Trump Republican,” Daniel Charles Svoboda of Port Hadlock, as opponents for the two-year, 24th Legislative District Position 1 seat, which will pay the Nov. 3 general election winner a salary of $52,766 a year.

The top two vote-getters in the primary will proceed to the Nov. 3 general election. Ballots were mailed Wednesday and are due at county auditor offices and drop-boxes by 8 p.m. Aug. 3 or be postmarked by that date to be counted.

The district, which has more than 132,000 voters, covers Clallam and Jefferson counties, where the majority of voters live, and the northern half of Grays Harbor County.

Sue Forde

Sue Forde

Forde ran unsuccessfully for Clallam County commissioner against then-Commissioner Steve Tharinger in 2003.

Svoboda, who has never run for elective office, said he “definitely” does not support a woman’s right to vote, which he also asserts in the voters guide produced by the state Secretary of State’s Office.

“I believe the female should be in the supportive role to the male,” he said in an interview, adding he would make it more difficult to get a divorce.

Daniel Charles Svoboda

Daniel Charles Svoboda

“This whole idea about being independent is a really, really bad idea.”

During interviews Wednesday and Thursday, we posed four questions to the candidates.

What is the main issue you will focus on if you are elected?

Chapman: Rebuilding the rural economy has been, and will continue to be his main focus, Chapman said.

“We were making good progress, and then the coronavirus hit.”

Chapman said he will work to ensure Morse Creek and Elwha Bridge improvements in Port Angeles will move forward.

He opposes raising sales and property taxes.

He also is opposed to increasing business and occupation taxes on small businesses and will work to raise the threshold for when entrepreneurs must pay the B&O tax, favoring its imposition on net, not gross, receipts.

Forde: Forde criticized the $10 billion in 2019 tax increases that were approved by lawmakers in 2019 with a fiscal impact between 2021-25, as described on the House Republicans’ website.

They include a long-term-care payroll tax, a B&O tax on large businesses for workforce education and a graduated real estate excise tax.

She also said $2 billion taken from the state’s rainy-day fund should have been returned to taxpayers.

She said lawmakers should “roll back the budget” by $8.8 billion in ways she said she could not cover in a brief interview, referring voters to her website for specific information.

If Democrats win in November, “they will have more taxes planned,” she predicted, and which she pledged to oppose.

Svoboda: Svoboda said he would focus on issues such as gay marriage, which he said he opposes.

“I want to restore marriage equality back to the state,” he said.

“I believe marriage is defined as one man and one woman.

“It always has been.”

He said gays are looking for “special rights” that, when bestowed, could lead to men marrying multiple men and women.

He said he favors rolling back state spending, possibly in public education and public employee pensions, but said he could not give more specifics on the budget.

Svoboda would have to get elected to “just kind of understand that better,” he said.

He said he also is opposed to abortion.

How should the state budget be adjusted to address revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Chapman: Chapman favors reverting to spending levels of two years ago and cutting rate increases.

“That’s manageable and doable while hopefully leading to a restructuring of the tax system that will benefit districts like ours,” he said.

When state workers retire, “we probably don’t need to hire new state employees,” he said, noting Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has imposed a hiring freeze.

“There’s no reason to touch basic education,” Chapman added.

Forde: Lawmakers should start by looking at how money is being spent “and start streamlining where it’s indicated, and that comes from within the agency,” she said.

She compared the approach to a household that suffers a cut in pay.

“You look at your spending and find out what’s necessary and what’s not necessary, and kind of go through and trim your budget,” Forde said.

Svoboda: He said he did not know enough about the budget to know what it’s spent on.

He said it’s wrong to shut down the state economically to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s not the plague,” he said

“People aren’t dropping dead in the streets.

“It’s ridiculous.”

How would you assess the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Chapman: The state has done some things right and some things wrong, Chapman said.

He supports Inslee’s edict that, as of June 26, face coverings must be worn in indoor public spaces and outdoors if social distancing cannot be maintained.

“If you support the rural economy, you should support masks because that keeps us from going into lockdown,” he said.

The state closed too many businesses initially but downplayed the importance of masks, which should have been mandated “from Day 1,” Chapman said.

He said the Legislature should have held a special session to deal more directly with the pandemic and build a broader bipartisan consensus on a plan of attack.

Forde: She criticized Inslee for using a “one size fits all” approach without taking into account the lack of rural-area fatalities and said there should have been a special legislative session to deal with the pandemic.

Forde said she is against the mandate to wear face coverings in public and said businesses who do not comply should not be threatened with fines.

“That’s just pile on,” she said.

Forde, who does not wear a face covering unless it’s required, said the pandemic initially was overblown by officials who said “millions were going to die, and it was a horrible, horrible pandemic.”

More responsibility to respond to the virus should have been placed with local health officials, Forde said.

Svoboda: He said he opposes all state mandates to stop the spread of the virus and said stopping its transmission should be a matter of personal choice.

“If you realize there’s a virus out there, you take a risk when you leave your house,” he said.

“We can’t live in fear.

“My rights do not end where your fear begins.”

Svoboda blames the spread of the virus on mass protests against racial injustice that swept the nation earlier this summer.

“They threw caution to the wind,” he said.

What can the state Legislature do to help the economy recover from measures imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19?

Chapman: Taxes on property, sales and small businesses should not be increased, Chapman said, urging a bipartisan approach.

Reforms should be imposed at the Employment Security Department to ensure recipients are receiving benefits as quickly as possible, he added.

In addition, lawmakers should appropriate $100 million in small business loans and grants to revive rural areas such as Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Forde: Forde would extend business and occupation tax “forgiveness” to small businesses, defer taxes and give businesses a sales tax holiday.

She also favors waiving minimum wage increases for at least a year.

Small businesses “are on life support,” she said.

Svoboda: The state should immediately drop COVID-19-related restrictions and “open back up,” he said.

“Issue an advisory that there’s a virus out there,” Svoboda said.

“Give the public details of the virus and the specifics of it.”

Mike Chapman

Age as of the Nov. 3 general election: 57.

Occupation: District 24, Position 1 state representative.

Education: Associate of Arts and Sciences degree, Shoreline Community College; bachelor’s degree, organizational management, Northwest College, Kirkland; master’s degree, leadership and liberal studies, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Party preference: Democrat.

Campaign website or Facebook page: Facebook page.

State voter guide profile:

Residence: Port Angeles.

Sue Forde

Age as of Nov. 3 general election: 73.

Occupation: Self-employed web designer and consultant.

Education: Two years of classes focusing on journalism, Ventura College, Ventura, Calif.

Party preference: Republican.

Campaign website or Facebook page: Website.

State voter guide profile:

Residence: Sequim.

Daniel Charles Svoboda

Age as of Nov. 3 general election: 41.

Occupation: Commercial truck driver.

Education: High school diploma, Clackamas High School, Clackamas, Ore.

Party preference: Trump Republican.

Campaign website: None.

State voters guide profile:

Residence: Port Hadlock.


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