EDITOR’S NOTE — Marcia Kelbon is a licensed attorney. A headline published Sunday incorrectly said she was a retired attorney.
QUILCENE — Marcia Kelbon, a chemical engineer and lawyer who retired from the biopharmaceutical company Omeros Medical Systems two and a half years ago, has announced she’ll challenge incumbent Greg Brotherton for the District 3 seat on the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.
Filing week for this year’s elections is May 16-20.
At the top of her agenda: Preventing this county from becoming like The Villages, Fla., a community for, and only for, retirees.
Kelbon herself moved to Quilcene with her husband soon after retirement.
“I am running to help hard-working families and folks that have worked hard to earn their retirement. I am concerned about the advance of a Seattle-style socialist agenda and subversion of traditional American norms observed at all levels of government, including locally,” Kelbon, 62, writes in the press release about her candidacy.
Kelbon, who wears a Republican elephant lapel pin, said she hopes to bring “a balanced voice” to the Board of Commissioners.
“I’m pretty moderate; not a rabid insurrectionist,” she said.
When asked about the county’s COVID response, Kelbon started by saying she believes in the vaccines. She is vaccinated and boosted.
“I urge people to do that,” she said, adding, “where I find fault is with forcing [vaccination] on people.”
Kelbon opposes vaccination mandates for workers and proof-of-vaccination policies for businesses.
She also differs with some of the actions taken in response to the homeless population in Jefferson County.
“We need to focus on the root causes,” she said, and help people by addressing drug and alcohol addiction, “rather than putting them in these encampments.”
Brotherton, over the past many months, sought to solve the problems stemming from the homeless encampment at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Last year the county commissioners established a new camp off Mill Road, spending some $600,000 to purchase the land.
The Mill Road site is now named the Caswell-Brown Village after Victoria K. Brown and John Caswell, two homeless residents of the county who died in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
The encampment and its people will continue to receive county investment, the Board of Commissioners has said. The Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) and Bayside Housing & Services also provide support.
Kelbon also disagrees with the Board of Commissioners’ decision last December to raise pay for elected county officials. Included in that move was the commissioners’ vote to give themselves a raise from $93,847 annually to about $101,395.
“What I’d like to do is roll that back,” Kelbon said, “for myself and for the other commissioners.”
Brotherton, for his part, said he’s proud of his accomplishments since his election in 2018. He said he’s sought to act rather than merely talk about problems. He’s reading the book “The Power of Regret” by Daniel Pink, and thinking about the regret that can come after actions not taken.
The Caswell-Brown Village, Brotherton believes, is a significant improvement over the fairgrounds encampment — for both the campers and the neighboring residents.
Yet the situation is a long way from solved, he acknowledged.
“We’re still dealing with 20-odd folk who have no running water; it’s snowing and they’re living in tents,” he said earlier this week.
Kelbon said she has watched homeless-encampments taking a negative toll on Seattle, where she commuted for decades. She emphasized her hope of working with people of various political persuasions to not only confront the problem of homelessness but also to “ensure families have the chance to succeed.”
In her press release, Kelbon added that she wants to help Jefferson County “avoid a Seattle-like slide to ruin.”
“That’s a lot to unpack,” Brotherton said.
“It’s really comparing apples to oranges. I look forward to getting further into the campaign, and finding out what she means.
As he confronts issues such as land use and public health, “I don’t approach them through a partisan lens, but through a listening lens,” he said.
“I don’t feel the need to be reactive … the campaign is not going to start till late April,” and meantime, “I’m dealing with issues on the ground.”
The primary election, if more than two candidates run for an office, will be held Aug. 2. The general election of two candidates will be Nov. 8. The last day for candidates to withdraw their names from the ballot is May 23.
Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or email@example.com.