Port Angeles City Council races line up

Incumbents score top votes in primary election

Jena Stamper.

Jena Stamper.

PORT ANGELES — All four Port Angeles City Council members who are up for election this year apparently will face off against challengers in the Nov. 2 general election.

Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin.

Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin.

Office-holders Mike French, Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, LaTrisha Suggs and Mayor Kate Dexter will square off against John Madden, Jena Stamper, Adam Garcia and John Procter, respectively, if Wednesday’s primary results hold. Madden, Stamper and Procter are all supported by the Independent Advisory Association.

Samantha Rodahl, Jason Thompson, John DeBoer and Jon Bruce — who had suspended his campaign — were in distant third after the Clallam County Auditor’s Office processed a second batch of 240 election ballots Wednesday. Another count in the all-mail election will be held today.

The top-two vote getters in each primary contest advance to the general election.

“I think the results show that the people of Port Angeles support the policies that the current council has been putting in place, and I look forward to that work continuing,” Schromen-Wawrin said Wednesday.

Schromen-Wawrin had 1,661 votes, or 41.7 percent, to Stamper’s 1,486 votes, or 37.3 percent, and Thompson’s 840 votes, or 21.1 percent, as of Wednesday.

“It was a good, strong showing,” Stamper said.

“It’s very exciting to see that there’s options in this race.”

Stamper said she would continue to advocate for cleaning up the city’s finances and restoring neighborhood parks.

“Homelessness is always going to be a big concern,” said Stamper, a licensed massage therapist who will be 37 on General Election day.

“But I am more concerned about the crime and the lack of response and accountability on the part of the city and the police.”

Schromen-Wawrin, a constitutional attorney who turned 42 on Wednesday, said one key challenge for the incumbents will be dispelling disinformation and “alternative facts that people are pushing.”

“I hope that we can actually have conversations based on what’s actually happened and what we actually want to do, not based on people’s misperceptions, however loud they say those words,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

Thompson was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

Kate Dexter.

Kate Dexter.

Dexter, the incumbent mayor and one of seven City Council members, had 2,128 votes, or 53.9 percent, to Procter’s 1,605 votes, or 40.6 percent, and Bruce’s 213 votes, or 5.4 percent, as of Wednesday.

Dexter, a Peninsula College nursing program specialist who will be 49 on Nov. 2, said she was pleased with the early returns.

“I know that there are still votes to be counted,” Dexter said Wednesday.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that the outcome will remain favorable.”

John Proctor.

John Proctor.

Procter, a retired veterinarian who will be 74 on Nov. 2, said Dexter had an advantage in the primary as the incumbent.

“I’m not surprised, actually, because Kate Dexter’s a known quantity,” Procter said.

“She’s been in the eye of the public for four years, and I have to play catch-up.

“Honestly, I don’t feel too bad,” Procter added, turning his attention to the general election. “We have three months.

“I know where I’m at, and I know what I have to do.”

Bruce, who left the race after his name was affixed to the ballot and did not participate in candidate forums, said he would support Procter in the general election.

“I just like how he’s really focused on cleaning up the community,” Bruce said Wednesday.

“I think he’s just a little bit more tenacious,” he added.

Procter said his main purpose for running was to “try and clean up our downtown area with the vagrants and drug users.”

“That’s what promoted me to run for office in the first place,” Procter said in a telephone interview.

“Also, I would like to see more street presence in our police department, and I would like to see more invested in our parks system to make them safer and to maintain them for our young families so they have a place to go and enjoy themselves.”

Dexter said housing and homelessness were central issues for the primary debates and would continue to be important topics for the general election.

“Another issue that I have talked a lot about and anticipate continuing to talk about is our code rewrite,” Dexter said of the effort to overhaul the city’s 130-year-old municipal code.

“That is one that I think has the potential to impact a lot of other things that we deal with on a regular basis, that we hear about from people.”

Dexter disputed the notion that homelessness had sullied the city’s reputation. She recalled a recent encounter at a Port Angeles Lefties baseball game in which the parents of an opposing player described the city as their favorite travel destination in the entire West Coast League.

“I think it is a direct contradiction to what my opponent says about people’s perception of Port Angeles,” Dexter said.

“I think we, like everywhere, have work to do, and I think it’s important that we continue to talk about all the things we’re also doing well.”

LaTrisha Suggs.

LaTrisha Suggs.

Suggs, the first Native American to serve on the council, had 1,860 votes, or 47.1 percent, to Garcia’s 1,638 votes, 41.4 percent, and DeBoer’s 452 votes, or 11.4 percent, as of Wednesday.

“I’m just really thrilled about the early results, not just for me, but for all of the incumbents,” said Suggs, a restoration planner for the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe who will be 51 on election day.

Suggs was appointed to the council in December 2019 to serve the remainder of the late Jim Moran’s unexpired term.

If elected, Suggs said her main focus areas would be affordable housing and the child care crisis.

“Housing is the big one, affordable housing,” Suggs said in a Wednesday interview.

“I think the ways to address housing are things that we’re currently doing, especially with the code updates.”

Adam Garcia.

Adam Garcia.

Garcia, a Veterans Health Administration program support assistant who will be 38 on Election Day, said he was encouraged by the early returns.

“Incumbents are always going to start out with a bit of an advantage from name recognition and stuff like that,” Garcia said.

“I’m right at about 5 (percentage) points off, give or take. I didn’t send the mailer out to everybody, so I’m happy. I’m happy with where I’m at. I’ve obviously got some work to do.”

Garcia predicted that housing, homelessness, public safety and parks would be the main themes of the general election debates.

“In every single (primary) debate, those were the topics,” Garcia said.

“I can’t image they’re really going to change.”

DeBoer, a former COVID-19 social distancing center manager who will be 62 on election day, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mike French.

Mike French.

French, a downtown restaurant owner who will be 39 on election day, had garnered more votes than any other City Council candidate with 2,246, or 57 percent, as of Wednesday.

John Madden.

John Madden.

Madden had 1,395 votes, or 35.4 percent, to qualify for the general election, and Rodahl had 297 votes, or 7.5 percent, after the second ballot count.

Like his fellow incumbents, French said he was “encouraged” by the early returns.

“I’m interested in looking for what the actual final returns of the primary are, but my focus is going to be on just running a good, solid general (election) campaign and having more voter contact,” French said.

French is the city council representative on the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce board and has worked closely with the local business community.

“That’s been my big focus for the last four years,” French said.

“We have a lot of downtown planning to do, and we’ve got a lot of work to do to recover from the (COVID-19) pandemic still. Those are the things that I’m still focused on.”

Madden, a contractor and retired Navy veteran who will be 59 on General Election Day, and Rohdal, a Peninsula Behavioral Health residential aide who will be 28 in November, could not be reached by phone or email Wednesday.

“I really appreciated all the challengers, even the ones that didn’t advance,” French said.

“I thought we had some really collegial debates and interactions with them. It’s always a lot of fun.”

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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