PORT ANGELES — Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp will headline what his campaign alternately describes as a speaking engagement and a protest event Saturday at the Extreme Sports Park.
Gates at the park, 2917 W. Edgewood Drive, will open at noon, The outdoor rally is set for 1 p.m., with four Republican candidates for federal, state and local elections set to speak.
“We have 101 acres, so there is plenty of room for social distancing,” said Extreme Sports Park co-owner Keli Morrison. “We will respect people who are wearing masks, and we will respect people who choose not to wear them.”
According to the Facebook page, other speakers will include Connie Beauvais of Joyce, Port of Port Angeles commissioner and state Senate candidate; Carlsborg resident and state House candidate Brian Pruiett; Clallam County GOP chair and candidate for state Representative Sue Forde of Sequim; and Gig Harbor’s Elizabeth Kreiselmaier, who is running for the 6th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Port Townsend’s James Scarantino also is expected to discuss state election issues.
Live music, a beer garden and food vendors will be on site for the event at the property west of Port Angeles. Classic cars, trucks, muscle cars and motorcycle enthusiasts are invited to show their vehicles.
Morrison said two stages will be set up. Speeches will be made from the sprint boat announcing tower and broadcast throughout the park via the public address system.
The event contradicts the governor’s office’s state guidance on gatherings for counties in Phase 2 of the state’s Safe Start reopening plan.
That plan allows gatherings with no more than five people outside a household per week.
“We did not try to get a permit for this event,” Morrison said. “This is a political rally on private property, and that’s why we are holding it. We are tired of being railroaded by our government. We’re ready to get back to work and tired of the control.”
During Tuesday’s Clallam County Board of Health meeting, Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank was asked why large parties and other gatherings can’t be shut down or their hosts fined or ticketed.
Unthank said the county lacks a “legal citation mechanism,” i.e. a nuisance ordinance.
“We have relatively little legal authority around gatherings as a county,” Unthank said. “Jefferson County has the ability to use nuisance ordinance for gatherings. They can cite people if they gather counter to COVID safety guidelines. The governor’s order is not something we have the ability to enforce if people challenge us on it.
“We do attempt some education toward voluntary compliance, but if someone says no, we don’t have a lot more we can do without a nuisance ordinance in place. You can call law enforcement, but our local law enforcement has said the order is not very enforceable.”
Morrison said organizers have spoken with representatives of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction over the event.
“We have talked to the sheriff’s department to let them know we want to honor them,” Morrison said. “All those who wear the black and blue and all first responders will be welcomed and honored at the event.”
Morrison said she didn’t have an estimate of attendance.
“It is starting to look pretty promising,” Morrison said. “There have been lots of calls and a lot of interest. I wish I did know how many were coming.”
Sprint boat races at the track routinely draw attendance in the low thousands. Morrison said organizers haven’t discussed capping attendance for Saturday’s event.
“We haven’t thought that far ahead,” Morrison said. “I think the facility could potentially hold 10,000 people, but I don’t think it will draw that many.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at [email protected].