State Rep. Mike Chapman, left, and Don Hall of Sequim, representing Chapman’s challenger, Jodi Wilke, debated 24th District legislative issues Tuesday at an election forum. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

State Rep. Mike Chapman, left, and Don Hall of Sequim, representing Chapman’s challenger, Jodi Wilke, debated 24th District legislative issues Tuesday at an election forum. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Legislative candidates’ views aired at Port Angeles forum

PORT ANGELES — Incumbent Democratic State Rep. Mike Chapman of Port Angeles and the campaign manager for his opponent Jodi Wilke painted differing pictures of what makes a good politician at a campaign forum Tuesday.

Don Hall, a stand-in for the Port Townsend Republican who said in a later interview that she was unable to attend, touted Wilke’s populist, anti-tax and anti-firearms control views and antipathy toward carbon fee Initiative 1631 to two dozen Port Angeles Business Association breakfast meeting participants.

Chapman is a one-term incumbent and former Republican Clallam County commissioner.

He expressed a why-change-things view, ticking off a list of millions of dollars in capital projects he’s helped direct the 24th legislative district’s way and lauding the bipartisan nature of the 2018 legislative session, which he said more than once had 556 bipartisan votes compared to the 18 purely partisan tallies.

“Let’s be grateful for a government that still works in a bipartisan manner,” Chapman said.

The 24th District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and the northern half of Grays Harbor County, including Hoquiam.

Ballots for the Nov. 6 election will be mailed to voters Oct. 17, two weeks from today.

The Peninsula Daily News’ 2018 Voter Guide will be inserted in the newspaper’s Oct. 14 edition.

In an interview later Tuesday, Wilke said she had to tend to a pet that was suffering side effects from medication, contrary to the message she said was mistakenly delivered to the PABA shortly before the forum that she was stuck in traffic.

The licensed practical nurse, who moved to Port Townsend in 2013, rose to public prominence as a leader of the “No on Prop. 1” campaign in Jefferson County.

The effort fueled the Nov. 7, 2017 election defeat of a property tax hike to fund housing for low- and very low-income residents.

She believes regulations “are placing a burden on the job creators and the home builders, and that burden is money, and it’s making housing expensive,” Hall said.

Wilke, a licensed practical nurse making her first foray at elective public office, said in the interview that she opposes I-1631 (tinyurl.com/PDNI-1631), noting that labor groups have come out against the measure.

“I’m going to approach all those people for endorsements,” Wilke said later in a telephone interview.

She believes the measure would hit rural areas especially hard, Hall said Tuesday morning, adding Wilke would vote to repeal it if she’s elected.

“It’s not a disrespect to voters in the district, it’s a denial to voters in the I-5 corridor,” he said, adding that those voters’ exert undue influence on state policies to the detriment of rural Washington.

Chapman did not say at the meeting if he was for or against the carbon-fee measure.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Chapman said after the meeting.

“I’m just one voter against many.”

But he did take issue at the meeting with reversing an initiative approved by voters.

“It’s interesting you are going to override the voters,” Chapman said.

“I believe in climate change is real,” he added, calling Pacific Coast forests “a major carbon sink” for sequestration, or storage of carbon dioxide that offsets greenhouse gas emissions.

“Part of my strategy is making sure we have programs in place for forest health,” he said.

Hall agreed that managed forests offer “the best chance for survival of the forest,” suggesting that “we’ve gone too far” protecting potentially threatened species instead of solely species that are threatened outright.

More land should not be set aside and prevented from being developed, he added.

Chapman said he voted against tax increases.

“Special interests would like us to get an income tax,” Hall insisted.

“I don’t trust politicians from either party.

“That’s why we need new blood.”

Hall described Wilke as a “pro-Second Amendment” candidate.

Wilke was at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Monday supporting the Jefferson County Sportsmen’s Association, which has an outdoor shooting range over which residents have expressed noise and safety concerns but which are under scrutiny by county commissioners for additional restrictions.

Such well-intentioned regulations “go wild, then all of a sudden, we have a Second Amendment and we can’t use it, we’ve regulated ourselves out of it,” Hall said.

“She thinks that if she’s in the Legislature, the NRA [National Rifle Association] will give her an A-plus-plus.”

Chapman said he’s earned re-election after travelling 30,000 miles by car within the 24th district to serve his constituents.

He said he helped secure nearly $30 million for a new Elwha River bridge on U.S. Highway 101 west of Port Angeles, $600,000 for a new access point on the Hoh tribal reservation in western Clallam County and $350,000 for suicide barriers on the Eighth Street bridges in Port Angeles, tipping his cap to community members who also funded the project.

“I think I’ve done a good job, I think I’ve worked hard for this district,” Chapman said.

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

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