PORT TOWNSEND — Three Democrats are vying for the District 2 Jefferson Board of County Commissioners seat in the Aug. 4 primary election, after which one will be eliminated from the race.
The three candidates for the position are Heidi Eisenhour, Amanda Rae Funaro and Lorna Smith.
Current District 2 commissioner David Sullivan chose not to run for reelection after serving on the board for 16 years.
The District 2 election will appear only on the ballots of voters living within the district, which includes Chimacum, Port Hadlock, Irondale, Marrowstone Island, Kala Point, Woodland Hills and Cape George.
The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary will move on to the countywide general election Nov. 3.
County commissioners serve a four-year term. The salary for the position is $79,518 a year.
Eisenhour’s campaign has $25,070, according to information she has filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. All funds were contributions, most in amounts of $500 or less. Her largest contributors gave $1,000 each: Stanford Siver and Jeffrey Jackson, both of Port Townsend, and Seth Hadley of Tucson, Ariz.
She has taken out no loans, Her expenditures are $4,224.
Smith has raised $17,380. Contributions total $16,060, most in donations of $500 or less, with many from Quilcene. Her largest contributors are from Seattle and Los Angeles, Calif. Loans total $1,135. She has spent $4,195.
Funero’s campaign has $12,131, according to information she has filed with the PDC.
Of that, $1,010 is from loans and $11,021 is composed of contributions from a variety of people. Among them are Teresa Verraes, executive director of the Port Townsend School of the Arts and former director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, and Katherine Kler, former county commissioner.
She has spent $2,779.
The Peninsula Daily News asked each of the candidates the same four questions.
What is the main issue the candidates will focus on if elected?
• Eisenhour’s primary concern, outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, is affordable housing and food security within the county.
“We’re living in very uncertain times,” she said. “Clearly, the near-term horizon says we’ll be focused on the COVID-19 crisis and our county’s response to it and I see that as my focus as well.
“There are issues within that, such as affordable housing and food security, that will need some focus and I think those are areas I would be paying close attention to.”
• Funaro would focus upon the long-range resilience and livability of the county. That includes accessible and affordable housing options, adding living wage jobs and protecting the ecosystem/ecology for future generations.
• Smith said her focus would be on a sustainable quality of life for all Jefferson County residents, under which she included the issues of maintaining a rural lifestyle, affordable housing and broadband high speed internet.
“We have the ability to grow economically … but it needs to be in keeping with our natural environment,” Smith said.
“Developing infrastructure so that entrepreneurial businesses can relocate here, we can do more at-home type businesses — work from home, telecommuting — if we have adequate infrastructure. The main impediment for that is lack of high speed internet.”
How are the candidates better qualified than their opponents?
• Eisenhour cited leadership experience with nonprofit organizations, especially within the local community.
“I’ve managed multi-million dollar organizations and I have done that for decades,” Eisenhower said.
• Funaro believes she is better qualified for the role due to her experience as a small business owner — a bookkeeper — and working with on-site sewage issues; working with several members of the community and regularly attending county Board of Health meetings for years to stay informed and advocate for the sewage industry and property owners within the county, she said.
“I think that that level of expertise will be very useful as the county comes together to address issues of wastewater management, namely the Port Hadlock Sewer Project,” Funaro said.
• Smith said she is the only candidate with “actual government experience,” citing her work as a manager in the Snohomish County Government for 25 years.
Managing a team of 25, Smith said she oversaw a variety of projects involving land and development issues, such as building roads, working on the Brightwater Sewage Treatment Plant with King County and outreach with the public for county projects.
How would you adjust the budget if needed to address budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?
• Eisenhour plans to look to the county staff for the budget proposals, as the individual departments evaluate what can or cannot be cut before sending onto the county administrator and commission for final review.
She would approach the cuts as a team effort and discuss with the departments where non-essential items could be cut.
• Funaro said she would make sure that funds go to continue to go to essential services, such as public health and other public services, and work down to less essential services.
“I think from the perspective of a business owner or as a mom who has run nonprofit preschool programs, if you always look at what are the essentials your organization can’t do without…and work backwards,” Funaro said.
• Smith supports the process that Jefferson County already has in place, and predicts that due to the “rainy day” fund the county has, it may be able to avoid steep cuts for a couple years.
“If the budget needs to be cut, it’s important to get those specific departments to take first shot at reviewing their programs and finding out where they can make cuts that will not interfere with essential public services,” she said.
How do you plan to approach moving forward with the Port Hadlock Sewer project?
The Port Hadlock Sewer Project has been in on-going conversations for years and a plan for a possible facility is nearing completion.
• Eisenhour lives a block from the proposed site of the project, and she has been hearing both concern and support for the project from her neighbors; they feel that they have not been involved with the conversations regarding the project,she said.
Eisenhour wants to focus on better engaging the community on the project going forward and seeking grant support to lesson the burden on community members.
• Funaro wants to continue to work with teams who have had “boots on the ground” for the project and make sure that the project is financially feasible for the residents, while also looking at the Urban Growth Area as a whole, and seeing if there are other avenues such as Large On-site Sewer Systems that may be more affordable/feasible.
“I think the goal of the sewer system is not a sewer system for the sake of having a sewer system, It is specifically to address the issues of housing shortfalls and the need for development and dense development,” she said.
• Smith believes the biggest hurdle to project is defining exactly how much it will cost to build it and finding funding for it to alleviate the burden from the Port Hadlock community and making it financially feasible.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.