The race is on.
Candidate filing week began May 13, as auditors across the state began to accept applications for public office.
This year applications are being accepted online and in person from May 13 through May 17 for any open state and local offices.
There are over 3,400 open seats in 2019, including two legislative seats and 27 positions in the judiciary, according to a press release from the Office of the Secretary of State. In addition, hundreds of city council, mayoral, school, sewer, parks & rec, pool, port, fire, water, hospital, and cemetery district are up for grabs. In Port Townsend, there are four city council seats up for election. In Jefferson County, there is one port commission seat up for election, as well as many school district, fire district and water district commission seats.
“Registering to vote and taking part in elections can be the first step of involvement in our political system, yet another great way to participate is to run for office,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman in a press release. “It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I have had and I hope more Washingtonians consider it as well.”
Citizens considering a run for public office can download the Washington State Candidates Guide provided by the Office of the Secretary of State, or read through frequently asked questions on the state elections website at sos.wa.gov/elections.
To file in Jefferson County, go to co.jefferson.wa.us and click on “Elections.” Those wishing to learn more can also contact Betty Johnson, director of the elections office, at 360-385-9117.
Today’s story in The Leader is by no means comprehensive. If you are running, please make sure to send us your headshot and a fact sheet, along with several methods by which we may contact you.
Stinson, Faber and Howard running
Mayor Deborah Stinson announced May 13 that she filed for re-election as a city council member for position 3.
Stinson is on her second four-year term as a city council member and on her second two-year term as mayor.
“It is such an honor to serve this city as an elected official and I have found working on behalf of Port Townsend residents to be some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever undertaken,” she said in a press release. “While there are accomplishments I can recall from the last seven-plus years, my focus today is on the future. The end of this term coincides with a significant transition to a new City Manager and such a change in administrative leadership calls for continuity in policy making leadership”
Stinson will not be running unchallenged. Monica MickHager, who has served for 10 years on the city’s planning commission, announced Tuesday that she filed to run for position 3 on city council.
“I am running to change our city council so it is once again responsive and welcoming to citizen input in this complicated and time-consuming work of governing our beloved community,” she stated in a press release.
MickHager has served as chair, vice chair and interim chair on the planning commission, and was a member of the Parks and Rec advisory board for six years.
She said she has been considering running for the last two election cycles.
“I see this as the way to have an open dialog about what our city council has and hasn’t done for us in the community and what our community would like for our council to do,” she said. “We will be able to ask direct questions of the incumbent, who ran unopposed last time. This is how our community gets accountability and will give our community a choice about who we want to be on our city council in the future.”
Owen Rowe steps up for Position 4
Meanwhile three other city council positions are also up for re-election. Amy Howard, position 6, and David Faber, position 7, said they are planning on running for re-election.
City council member Robert Gray has announced he will not be running for re-election this year, but that he supports Owen Rowe who is running for his seat.
Rowe has lived in Port Townsend since 1997. A former software programmer, he made a career switch 10 years ago and began working on his own creative endeavours, such as writing, translation, and teaching Italian.
Since then, he has gotten deeply involved in Port Townsend’s vibrant creative community. He is the president of the Food Co-op board, chair of the city arts commission and on the city library advisory board. He is hoping to bring these experiences to the Port Townsend City Council.
“I have a big-picture view of how all the different organizations and entities in the community are working together,” he said.
Knowing what the many non-profit and creative organizations bring to the table can help Rowe come up with innovative solutions, he said.
He is hoping to invest in the neighborhoods that exist in the city, making sure everyone has access to services such as public transportation, safe walking and biking paths.
This might mean scaling back the city’s investment in tourism and focusing on its citizens.
“There’s a lot more beyond Water Street,” he said.
Predictions of an upcoming recession has Rowe focusing on working to create affordable housing and jobs for people that live here.
“Our economy is really fragile for a lot of people,” he said. “We need to revise the creative culture and economy.”
People of all ages come to Port Townsend because of its creative culture, he said. But the arts are not known for a vibrant job market. Investing in creating jobs in the arts is one way he hopes to revitalize the local economy.
“We’ve got a lot of fantastic highly skilled volunteers,” he said. “Why don’t we recognize the creative sector for its possible economic role?”
For the incumbent, the financial future of the city is a pressing issue.
Robert Gray said he would only serve two terms as a city council member and decided not to run again after serving for 8 years total. He has voiced his support for Rowe to run for his position.
Gray considered himself to be the only voice of dissent on the city council, often finding issues with financial decisions made by council.
“I’d vote no 20% of the time, but that was 99% of the no votes,” he said.
An auditor by trade, Gray concentrated on the city’s finances and is worried about the city’s financial future.
“There were these red flags we aren’t addressing, especially with borrowing money,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge if another recession hits.”
Living in the Castle Hill area, Gray ran for city council with the hopes of bringing more attention to neighborhoods beyond downtown and uptown. And while a lot of work has been done to create sidewalks and improvements on Castle Hill, Gray is troubled with the city’s lack of follow-through to finish projects.
Not to mention the fact that many of the projects are funded with borrowed money.
“After the financial recession hit in 2008, the city thought the way to get through that was with big projects,” he said. “Now, that does stimulate the local economy, but you have to borrow money to get it going.”
He’s hoping that the future city council will have more community input through town meetings, and that they will take a hard look at their finances.
“That’s one reason I would take a stand to vote no on some issues I did not feel comfortable supporting,” he said. “Even though you get out-voted, people will start looking at the details up close.”