State House races highlight candidate filings

Economic impact of virus one of top issues

Three candidates filed to run for state House seats on the opening day of election filings, and two Democrats filed to run in the Aug. 4 primary for the Jefferson County Commissioner seat being vacated by David Sullivan.

It’s an election that all three candidates for the two 24th Legislative District seats agreed will be dominated by COVID-19 and how local and state governments are responding to the virus and its effects.

As of Monday afternoon, Democratic incumbent Mike Chapman of Port Angeles and Daniel Charles Svoboda of Port Hadlock (no party listed) both filed for Position 1, and Republican challenger Brian Pruiett of Carlsborg filed for the Position 2 seat currently held by Democrat Steve Tharinger.

Tharinger had not filed by Monday afternoon, but candidates have until 4 p.m. Friday to submit paperwork and pay respective filing fees. Candidates can file at www.tinyurl.com/candidatesfiling. They must be registered to vote in the district in which they are filing, and provide a valid email address.

Pruiett said more support for small businesses will be a big part of his campaign.

“The budget crisis caused by Gov. Jay Inslee’s excessive shutdown order must be addressed now,” he stated in a press release. “We should immediately repeal the approximately $12 billion in new taxes that the state Legislature passed in 2020, and implement a 15 percent cost savings from this year’s state spending.”

Pruiett believes the state’s shutdown order is unconstitutional because it discriminates against small, local businesses while allowing large businesses and big box stores to remain open.

“There’s a higher chance of infection at the big box stores,” he said.

He also pointed to Clallam County’s low number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and said, “we’ve proven we are not a source of infection.”

Pruiett said he is also running to repeal the state’s new sex education laws, legislation he believes sexualizes children.

Chapman, running for a third term as state legislator, said he signed on to a letter asking Inslee to loosen restrictions on businesses in Clallam County because of the devastating effect to small businesses.

He said he understands the frustrations from local business owners.

“You can go to Costco and Home Depot, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you can’t go to downtown Port Angeles and go to the bike shop,” Chapman said.

Chapman said local legislators got Inslee to loosen up restrictions on construction businesses.

“Those are jobs we need in our district,” he said.

He expects dealing with major budget effects from COVID-19 will dominate next year’s legislative session.

“This is going to be a great challenge for all public officials,” he said.

Svoboda, running for Chapman’s Position 1 seat, did not have a phone number or email listed on his filing and could not be reached by deadline.

Port of Port Angeles Commissioner Connie Beauvais of Joyce filed as a Republican to run for the 24th Legislative District’s state Senate seat currently held by Sequim Democrat Kevin Van De Wege, who had not filed by Monday afternoon.

In a January interview with the Peninsula Daily News, Beauvais said she is running because of the effect the marbled murrelet restrictions were having on local districts and because of new taxes being approved by the Legislature.

“We need to find real solutions to making our public forests healthy and our waters clean, while growing our timber and fishing industries,” she said in a release announcing her candidacy.

County commissioner races

Heidi Eisenhour of Port Hadlock and Lorna Smith of Port Townsend, both Democrats, filed to run for Jefferson County Commissioner Position 2 on Monday. They voiced similar sentiments that COVID-19 will dictate county budget decisions in the next few years.

Eisenhour said she dealt with similar budget crises after 9/11 and during the economic recession in the 2000s.

“I’ve lived in District 2 for 40 years,” Eisenhour said. “I’m well-equipped to be a leader for the community. I have the resourcefulness and effectiveness and proven leadership in running organizations after 9/11 and the Great Recession.”

Eisenhour was the executive director of the Jefferson County Land Trust during the recession and was involved in large capital funding in King and Snohomish counties after 9/11. She is now the chief operations officer at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

Eisenhour said Jefferson County will face similar challenges in the next year or more.

Smith has been a planning commissioner in Jefferson County and worked as the executive director of the Western Wildlife Outreach in Snohomish County.

“I had already decided before the COVID virus to run,” she said. “I’m now more determined than ever that this was the correct choice. This is going to be a tough budget.”

As of Monday afternoon, incumbent Randy Johnson of Port Angeles was the only candidate to file for Clallam County Commissioner District 2.

He said that, in running a business after 2008, he’s been through tough economic times.

“I’ve been there,” he said.

Johnson said the county has no choice but to face these daunting challenges. As a commissioner, he expects a big focus will be on finding ways to help local businesses recover from COVID-19.

Other seats

Other candidates filing by 4 p.m. Monday include:

U.S. Representative — Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor.

Clallam Superior Court Judge Position 1 Regular 4 — Lauren Erickson of Port Angeles.

Clallam County Public Utility District 1 Commissioner District No. 2 — Marty Michaelis of Sequim and Patti Morris of Port Angeles.

Jefferson County Public Utility District Commissioner No. 2 — Kenneth Collins of Nordland.

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