FORKS — Mike Gilstrap, candidate for Position 5 on the Forks City Council, was the only candidate out of three to participate in a League of Women Voters forum in Forks on Tuesday evening.
Gilstrap, a logger and veteran, said during the forum that he wants to serve the people of Forks, work with the state on management of trust lands and that he would like to see a greater police presence in the city.
Position 5 is currently occupied by Council Member Jon Preston, who is not seeking re-election.
Gilstrap’s competitors are Christina Kohout and Danny Smith, who did not attend the forum.
Those three are competing in the Aug. 6 primary election. The top two vote-getters will move on to the Nov. 5 general election. Primary election ballots will be mailed to registered voters July 17.
“I spend a lot of time in my truck and I leave home at 1:30 in the morning … and the one thing I never see is a police officer,” he said. “You drive around and you don’t see them. To me that’s not the way it should be,” Gilstrap said.
Gilstrap said that two years ago he would have supported disbanding the police department and contracting with the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office for services.
“At that time I was on board with that,” he said. “At that time the Forks Police Department was not doing a good job.”
He cited the FBI investigation into an allegation of rape by former Forks Police Officer Mike Gentry as an example. Gentry resigned last year for medical reasons and was not charged.
Gilstrap said that since then, in his view, the department has improved.
“Chief [Mike] Rowley is doing a good job right now,” Gilstrap said. “Me and Mike are friends … and that’s a big deal to me.”
When asked about his involvement in the community, Gilstrap said he is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and that he has helped with the Lions Club, though he is not a member.
Current City Council member Bill Brager asked Gilstrap about logging and how he feels about the city promoting the viability of logging on state lands.
“That is very important to me,” Gilstrap said. “You drive out of town 10 miles … and there is 127,000 acres of school trust lands. That should be logged and maintained and that money should go to pay for school systems across the state, not just here, the whole state.”
He said the state needs to start managing the trust lands properly.
“I will try to do what’s right for the citizens of Forks,” he said.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].