Jefferson County incumbents look ahead to upcoming election

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County’s elected officials said in recent interviews that they are mulling running for re-election to their positions.

After all, the May 14-18 candidate filing week for the Nov. 6 general election is barely 18 weeks away.

They all had good things to say about their jobs.

Only District Court Judge Jill Landes is not running for re-election.

Landes, a three-term incumbent, is retiring, she said Jan. 3 in a move that she’s been contemplating for some time.

And for Sheriff Dave Stanko, there’s no doubt he’ll run for re-election.

All but two countywide positions — Landes’ and Wayne King’s Jefferson County Public Utility District 1 Position 3 seat — are partisan, with Democrats dominating the field of incumbents.

Here’s a rundown of Jefferson County elected officials and where they stand on taking another shot at public office:

District 3 Jefferson County Commissioner Kathleen Kler, Democrat: The Quilcene resident — the first female chair of the Jefferson County board of commissioners — is completing her first term after defeating Daniel Toepper, an Independent, in 2014.

She said she knows her decision on whether to run will have implications.

“I fully understand the importance of making the decision and the timing of it and what it means for those who are going to choose to run or not on the basis of my decision,” Kler said.

Kler is an artist and retired registered nurse.

“I could look foreword to serving another four years,” she said.

“Without a doubt, I am the best candidate for the job, because I bring into it everything I’ve learned, all the relationships I have established,” Kler said.

“Having said that, I am still weighing the decision.”

Sheriff Dave Stanko, Independent: “I am going to run for re-election, period,” Stanko said last week.

“Everything I promised the voters in 2014 I have either started or accomplished.”

That includes establishing a citizens advisory committee and moving forward with a strategic plan and with gaining accreditation through the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, he said.

“I want to be re-elected to continue that and to see those through to fruition.”

Wendy Davis of Port Ludlow, who oversees security as regional facilities operations manager for Uber Technologies in Seattle, said she won’t be running again against Stanko, although she has had inquiries about her intentions.

“I miss law enforcement, don’t get me wrong, but I’m in a better place right now,” she said Friday. “It’s good.”

Prosecuting Attorney-Coroner Michael Haas, Democrat: The first-term incumbent has the mind-set of someone preparing for a second term.

“We have one of the best, if not the best, legal team this county has ever had,” said Haas, a former defense attorney who as a political newcomer defeated incumbent Democrat Scott Rosekrans in 2014.

“I very much feel good about proceeding.

“We’ve had some turnover in the office, but we’ve come out of it strong.”

What voters have to say will determine if he gets to keep his position, he said, “but I really love the job,” Haas added.

County Clerk Ruth Gordon, Democrat: Gordon, a three-term incumbent appointed to the position in 2005, ran unopposed in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 general elections.

“I am seriously considering running,” Gordon said. “I don’t think this is a good time to leave.”

She said she already knows people who are thinking of running for public office.

“The field is beginning to form.

“Five months is not a lot of time to put things together.”

Auditor Rose Ann Carroll, Democrat: Carroll is a 22-year county courthouse veteran who worked at the treasurer’s office and department of community development before joining the accounting staff at the auditor’s office in 2012.

As deputy auditor-chief accountant, Carroll narrowly defeated Democrat Judy Maves-Klatt to win her first term, succeeding Donna Eldridge, who retired. Carroll hasn’t decided if she will run again.

“I love my job, and I look forward to coming here every day,” Carroll said.

It’s not the kind of job that makes her watch the clock.

“I like it because of the variety of things I’m dealing with,” Carroll said.

“I’m running up and down the [courthouse stairs], checking this, checking that.

“I do enjoy coming here and making sure everything is running well.”

Assessor Jeff Chapman, Democrat: Chapman won election to his first term unopposed in 2014 after he was appointed to succeed longtime Assessor Jack Westerman, who retired after 35 years with a year left on his term.

“I’m certainly considering running again,” Chapman said.

“I haven’t decided to retire, let’s put it that way.”

Chapman, the county’s former deputy assessor, said there has been lots of talk at the courthouse about who will sign up in May to run for office.

When Landes told Peninsula Daily News Jan. 3 that she was not running for re-election, she called her decision “the worst kept secret in the courthouse.”

The treasurer’s office job is “a pretty good fit for me,” Chapman said.

When he took office, his goal was to implement an annual on-site-visit review of properties for taxing purposes to replace the six-year cycle, which he said he’s done.

“For me, I feel like I’ve done the job I was hired to do, which was to implement a smooth annual system.”

Treasurer Stacie Prada, Democrat: Prada said she is “definitely” mulling running for re-election.

The former department of community development director won her first term in 2014 without opposition.

She succeeded Republican Judy Morris, who recommended the Democrat as her replacement.

“I am really enjoying the work and feel like I am contributing in my role there,” Prada said.

“We had a few things that were pretty big projects that the office hadn’t done before, and I feel good about how everyone has gone through that.”

Those projects included changing banks when Bank of America left the North Olympic Peninsula, Prada said.

Jefferson County Public Utility District 1, Position 3 Commissioner Wayne King: King is ending his third, six-year term.

He was opposed in 2000 and unopposed in 2006 and 2012.

King, who owns a machine shop, said “of course” he’s considering another run, “but it’s a long way off.”

King said he is “feeling pretty good” about his nearly 18 years in the office, The PUD had 2,100 customers when he started and now has 19,000.

The PUD severed a century-old relationship with Puget Sound Energy in 2013 that resulted in the PUD offering electrical power service to its East Jefferson County customers.

“It’s a job that people would not work this hard for this little bit of money,” King said.

The position pays $1,800 a month and includes health insurance, which he admits he likes.

“I really look at this as a public service,” he said.


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

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