PORT TOWNSEND — Three candidates running for the District 2 seat on the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners agreed during a forum that completion of the Port Hadlock sewer project is an essential part of the solution in providing affordable housing.
The three Democrats — Heidi Eisenhour, Amanda Rae Funaro and Lorna Smith — appeared to have no disagreements at the Tuesday night forum organized by the Jefferson County League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women.
They are vying for the seat left vacant by current District 2 Commissioner David Sullivan, who has decided not to run for reelection after serving for 16 years.
District 2 includes Chimacum, Port Hadlock, Irondale, Marrowstone Island, Kala Point, Woodland Hills and Cape George.
All three will appear on the Aug. 4 primary election ballot for District 2 voters; the two candidates who receive the most votes will proceed to the general countywide election in November.
Organizers reported that 145 people watched the forum on Zoom. It was simulcast on radio station KPTZ 91.9 FM.
A recording will be posted on League chair Dennis Daneau’s YouTube channel sometime in the next few days, they said.
While questions ranged from broadband internet to budgeting concerns due to COVID-19, much of the conversation focused on the Port Hadlock sewer project and affordable housing.
The sewer project has been in planning stages for years. In April, the county was allocated $1.4 million for the final design of Phase 1 by the state Legislature.
Affordable housing also has been discussed for years in Jefferson County. Completion of the sewer is one part of the solution, candidates said.
“I want all ideas out on the table,” said Funaro, a member of the Affordable and Homeless Housing Task Force and the operations operator for Goodman Sanitation.
“It will take staff time, but we can bring people together and get things done to benefit us all.”
Septic system rules
Septic system regulations is a related issue. Without the Port Hadlock sewer system, most residents outside of Port Townsend are on septic systems.
All three candidates agreed the county regulations and permitting process needs to be evaluated.
Smith, a Cape George resident who represents District 2 on the county planning commission and who is a former county manager for Snohomish County, said other alternatives, such as composting toilets, should be considered.
Funaro wants to see the application process cleaned up and streamlined.
Eisenhour, a Port Hadlock resident who is a former planning commissioner and the chief of operations for the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, said the process needs to be made clear and understandable.
She said her family’s application to install a septic system was approved, but once it was in place and inspected, the family was told it couldn’t be used.
“We need to look at a mixture of solutions for this problem, but the permitting process needs to be addressed,” Eisenhour said.
Candidates were asked about the Jefferson County Sportsmen Association (JCSA) and how they feel about gun ranges operating in the county.
All three support JCSA as a safe place to learn and practice. None would support more outdoor ranges.
Smith wrote the resolution that eventually was adopted by the county commissioners, restricting future commercial shooting ranges to indoors only.
“My reason for doing that is, in examining where on private lands these facilities could go, there simply was no place in rural Jefferson County where they wouldn’t have severe impacts on surrounding areas,” Smith said.
The League and AAUW received many questions in advance for the forum, said moderator Renee Klein.
“We had lots and lots of questions; the candidates will not be able to answer them all,” she said as the forum began.
“Our question wranglers first took all of the questions and compared the questions to the actual responsibilities of our county commissioners to make sure that we were asking questions that fit in the framework of their responsible roles, should they be elected.”
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.