Two vie for open sheriff seat

Winborn among those not seeking reelection

Brian King

Brian King

PORT ANGELES — Two high-profile Clallam County government department heads will not seek new terms in office in the Nov. 8 general election as a host of elected officials approach the May 16-20 filing week.

Director of Community Development Mary Ellen Winborn and Sheriff Bill Benedict said Wednesday they will not run for one more four-year stint.

Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King and Deputy Marc Titterness, both of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, have registered with the state Public Disclosure Commission for Benedict’s position, allowing them to seek and spend campaign donations.

Republican West End-Port Angeles-area county Commissioner Bill Peach said Wednesday he “probably” will run for a third term.

“That’s because I haven’t filed yet with the Public Disclosure Commission,” Peach said Wednesday in a voice message. “Once I do that, I’ll be very open about what my plans are.”

Assessor Pam Rushton, completing her fourth term, said she is undecided.

“I’ll declare later on one way or another,” she said Wednesday.

“I feel great about the job.”

Incumbent county Prosecuting Attorney-Coroner Mark Nichols, Auditor Shoona Riggs and Treasurer Teresa Marchi could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

None had registered with the PDC as of late Wednesday afternoon.

King registered as a candidate Monday with the PDC.

Titterness filed Dec. 20, publicly announcing his run for office this week following a fundraiser Sunday in Sequim.

Winborn, 62, a two-term incumbent filling the only elected land-use director position in the U.S., said Wednesday she doubts she will return to her architectural practice.

“I knew when it was time to move on from my architectural practice and it’s time to move on from this job,” she said.

“I’ve done 98 percent of what I set out to do. It’s just time to move on.”

She counted as accomplishments passage of a countywide shoreline master program and a stormwater program.

“It’s not an easy job,” Winborn said.

“It takes a lot out of you and it takes it every single day.”

Benedict, 72 in August, will end his fourth four-year term in December, the longest tenure of any Clallam County sheriff.

Throwing his support Tuesday behind King, he said he made it widely known during his 2018 campaign that he would not seek re-election.

“I think everybody has a use-by date, and honestly, it would be hard for me, hard for my game, to be as sharp as I should be if I continue beyond this.”

King, 46, is the married father of a 23-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter.

He was born in Port Angeles and grew up in Forks. His wife, Brenda, is a Forks High School teacher.

“My whole career has been focused on holding people accountable and finding justice for victims,” he said Wednesday.

“I don’t believe there’s a greater purpose in life.”

King has been in law enforcement since he was 19, serving as a Forks Police Department reserve officer, on the La Push Police Department and with the sheriff’s office since 2001.

He was a sergeant from 2008-2015 and has been chief criminal deputy, the third ranking supervisor behind sheriff and undersheriff, since 2015. King is head of department operations and commander of the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team.

“I have the experience, the command-level experience,” he said.

“My current opponent doesn’t have that experience.”

King said his priorities, if elected, will include maintaining the department’s accreditation and expanding the jail at the courthouse under a potential five-year plan that could lead to relocation of administrative staff and records division.

He said the topic of Benedict’s successor has been discussed extensively by the department’s command staff.

“A good organization always has a succession plan,” he said.

Benedict said King has attended the FBI Academy and state Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs meetings.

“We’ve more or less prepared him for this,” Benedict said. “I look forward to him taking over as sheriff.”

Titterness, 45, is the married father of a son, 23, and two daughters ages 21 and 18. His wife, Heather, is a Port Angeles School District middle school teacher.

A Kansas native, Titterness was a corrections officer for the Kansas Department of Corrections from 2006-2007, a deputy for the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office in Kansas from 2007-2011, a Clallam County sheriff’s office corrections officer from 2011-2016 and a Clallam County sheriff’s deputy since 2016.

Before going into law enforcement, Titterness was a remodeling contractor and a restaurant manager.

King supervises Titterness’s supervisor.

Titterness said he told King last summer he was running for sheriff.

“He told me he did not know if he wanted to run,” Titterness said.

“I don’t know what changed his mind, other than the sheriff has really been after him to run.”

Titterness said he assumed there was a plan of succession for Benedict’s departure.

“The sheriff is not like a monarch,” Titterness said.

“The people choose the sheriff who represents them. It’s their job to give the people a voice.”

If elected, Titterness said he will make reopening the jail to fuller capacity a main priority to accommodate more arrestees than those incarcerated for violent felonies.

“It needs to be open for business, to be open for public safety,” he said. “It’s going to take someone who understands corrections, who knows corrections, to make that happen.

“The number one priority is, we have to address staffing issues down at the jail and on patrol.”

Titterness said he would be proactive recruiting deputies in the community.

He had $673 in campaign contributions as of Wednesday, including $500 of his own money and $173 from campaign manager Patrick Gilson of Sequim for in-kind expenditures for a website subscription.

Titterness said his PDC totals will be updated to account for the fundraiser Sunday at Peninsula Taproom in Sequim, which drew 15-20 people, about half of whom were new faces.

“We haven’t been out soliciting contributions until this week,” he said.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Marc Titterness

Marc Titterness

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