FORKS — Two Forks High School graduates vying for the four-year Position 2 seat on the Forks City Council made it past Tuesday’s primary to the Nov. 2 general election.
Clint Wood, Forks Community Hospital director of facilities, gained 58.2 percent of the vote — 220 votes — topping Josef Echeita’s 31.2 percent — 118 votes — and Barbara Neihouse’s 9.3 percent — 35 votes.
“I was happy with the results,” Wood said Wednesday.
“I was kind of surprised how big of a margin it was.”
The Clallam County elections office counted 240 votes Wednesday that were received Tuesday and expects to tabulate more than 3,500 mail-in and drop-box ballots received Wednesday, county Auditor Shoona Riggs said.
A 1986 FHS graduate, Wood served in the Army for eight years, departing in 1996 with the rank of sergeant. He saw action in Operation Just Cause in Panama from December 1989 to January 1990, launched against dictator Manuel Noriega.
Wood, 53 on General Election Day, has worked at the hospital for 23 years, starting there in the maintenance department. He and his wife have two children, ages 16 and 19.
He said if elected he will focus on infrastructure from water and sewer facilities to broadband.
“Out here in Forks, we go without the internet quite a bit,” Wood said. “When it shuts down, it does not come on for awhile because we’ve only got one provider out here.”
Echeita, 34, a 2006 FHS graduate and an inmate classification counselor at Clallam Bay Corrections Center, said Wednesday he was excited by the primary election results and the chance to give voters a choice.
“That’s always a good thing,” said Echeita, who is the current FHS assistant girls basketball coach.
“The big key is to get higher voter turnout,” he said.
“My main focus is what I want to do for this city. I grew up here. It’s a great place to raise a family, and I want to keep it that way. I love the community.”
Echeita and his wife have two children, ages 3 and 6.
Neihouse, a former Forks Elementary School fourth-grade teacher, retired in June.
“I have to honestly say I’m a little bit relieved,” she said of the results.
“I was really excited when I first filed, then the reality of what I was about to embark on kind of changed my mind.”
Neihouse said she did not realize the money, time and campaigning that was involved.
“I know it’s only a local race, but it kind of freaked me out a week after I filed, like, what have I done?
“It’s kind of nice to know that my time is my time until I’m used to being retired, and I just didn’t want to get more involved.”
She said she knew Echeita when he was “a little guy” attending Forks Elementary and knew his parents, with whom she taught.
Niehouse is now backing Echeita.
“I just think he’s a really upright, moral person and cares about what happens to every type of person,” she said, adding she does not personally know Wood.
“I personally know Josef, and I know what kind of human being he is, so he’ll get my vote,” Neihouse said.
Wood said serving on the city council seems like a natural step for him, adding that he was a Boy Scout scoutmaster and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
“I’ve served my country, and now I feel like I need to serve my community,” he said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.