Ninety-five candidates filed to run for office this year in Thurston County. Here are the major contested races.
The primary is Aug. 18. The general election is Nov. 3.
THURSTON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Two challengers will vie in the primary election for the seat held by Commissioner Karen Valenzuela.
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They are Democrat Dan Venable, 59, owner of Advance Environmental Inc., which tests for and removes mold from dwellings, and Republican Pat Beehler, a 64-year-old professional surveyor.
Valenzuela, 59, a former Tumwater city councilwoman, was sworn into office in February after Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed her to the unexpired term of Bob Macleod, who resigned Dec. 31 for health reasons. The appointment was kicked up to the governor when the two remaining commissioners couldn’t agree on the process to appoint his successor.
Only voters in District 3, which includes west Olympia, Tumwater and Rochester, will vote in the primary.
The two top vote-getters will face off in a countywide election in November.
The commissioner’s seat is up again next year when the four-year term expires.
TUMWATER CITY COUNCIL
Five candidates, including three City Council members, will run to succeed longtime Mayor Ralph Osgood, who is not seeking another term.
Political newcomers Justin Kover and David Raatz will join council members Joan Cathey, Pete Kmet and Neil McClanahan in the race. The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 18 primary will face off in November.
The three council seats up for election drew unopposed candidates who will secure four-year terms in the absence of a strong write-in campaign.
Council members Ed Hildreth and Judi Hoefling are incumbents for two of the seats. Hildreth, a longtime city planning commissioner, was appointed in March to complete Valenzuela’s unexpired term. Hoefling was appointed in April 2005 to fill an unexpired term and won a four-year term that November.
The newest council member, unless a write-in campaign is mounted, is Betsy Murphy. Murphy, 61, elder-care coordinator for a local law firm, Janet McClanahan Moody PLLC, will succeed Bruce Zeller, who is not seeking another term. She had applied for appointment to Valenzuela’s former seat.
Her priorities if elected include advocating for smart growth by scrutinizing land-use decisions and not letting the city become a “hatchery for warehouses,” as she put it, maintaining excellent emergency services and breathing life back into the shuttered Olympia Brewery.
LACEY CITY COUNCIL
Three of the four council seats drew contested races to be decided in November. All council seats are at-large.
Cynthia Pratt, 66, will challenge Councilwoman Ann Burgman, who is seeking a fifth four-year term.
Pratt is a retired state worker who has served on the Thurston County Boundary Review Board since 2002.
She was critical of how the city has developed in recent years – large neighborhoods built away from commercial development and work places, forcing people to drive – and the decision of the City Council to start a new fire department when its contract with the Lacey Fire District ends in December 2010 without first knowing the details, including the cost.
She first filed to run against deputy mayor John Darby, but later withdrew and filed against Burgman. Both are pro-business voices on the council. Pratt said she decided to run against a candidate of a similar demographic and because Darby was further ahead in the campaign fundraising process than Burgman.
Ron Lawson, 70, said he ran because he also didn’t like the direction growth was taking in the community in recent years and wanted to energize citizen involvement in city government. Lawson has been active in his neighborhood along 22nd Avenue Southeast.
Lawson is backed by the firefighters union. The union pledged to run candidates against incumbent council members over their unhappiness about the decision to end the long-standing relationship with their employer.
Andy Ryder is challenging Darby, who is seeking a third four-year term. Darby has served as deputy mayor since January 2008.
Councilman Virgil Clarkson will win a third four-year term on the council in the absence of a write-in candidate. He was appointed to the seat in 1998 and won elections to full terms in 2001 and 2005. He served as mayor from 2004 to 2007.
The council will select a mayor and deputy mayor in January, after the election. Lacey city voters do not independently elect those positions; the council votes to appoint two of its members for two-year terms.
LACEY FIRE DISTRICT NO. 3
Gene Dobry, 56, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, is vying for the seat held by Commissioner Frank Kirkbride. Kirkbride has held the seat since 2000.
Dobry, now a loan specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said he decided to run after the dispute between the city and fire district over financial and operational decisions, followed by a lawsuit over the closure of the Hawks Prairie fire station. The lawsuit has been settled.
Four of Olympia’s seven council seats are open this year, and the positions have drawn 10 candidates.
Three incumbents are running: Joan Machlis, Joe Hyer and Jeff Kingsbury. Karen Messmer has announced she will not run again.
Three have filed for Messmer’s seat: Karen Rogers, Amy Tousley and Karen Veldheer.
Two will face Kingsbury: Janine Gates and Stephen Buxbaum. Jeannine Dellwo Roe will face Machlis.
And Anthony Sermonti will run against Hyer.
The council seats have a four-year term, and the council members will make $16,639.20 per year.
First-term Tumwater School Board member Rita Luce drew challenger Bill Proffitt in the race for Position 1 on the School Board. Luce, 60, is a longtime district and school volunteer and owner of Rita’s Loose Curls, a hair salon in the Littlerock area. Proffitt, 54, retired from the Army medical department and has been a computer systems analyst and engineer for the past 10 years. Both candidates have adult children who have graduated from Tumwater schools.
In the south part of the county, some residents will see a contested race for Position 1 on the Centralia School Board, where Michael Kelly is challenging incumbent Ron Brumbaugh.
Most other school board seats drew only the incumbent school board members and will appear with one name on the ballot in November. However, three school board positions – in Rainier, Griffin and Tenino – drew no candidates. The Thurston County Elections office will have a special three-day filing period Wednesday through Friday to allow candidates to file for those seats.
Two Democrats and one Republican are competing for the Port of Olympia commission seat being vacated by Paul Telford, who announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election.
Running for the District 3 commission seat are Democrats Jeff Davis and Dave Peeler and Republican Will Stakelin. District 2 incumbent Commissioner Bill McGregor still is running unopposed and has raised more than $10,000 for his campaign, according to state Public Disclosure Commission filings. District 1 Commissioner George Barner is not up for re-election until 2011, port spokeswoman Kathleen White said Monday.
Davis, 41, of Olympia is a longshoreman. In a news release, Davis said, in part, that he was a former member of the Cowlitz County Planning Commission and also served as state government affairs director for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
As of Monday, PDC filings show Davis has yet to raise or spend any money toward his campaign.
Peeler recently retired from the state Department of Ecology, according to Olympian Political Editor Brad Shannon’s blog. Although Peeler has announced his intention to run for Telford’s seat, he has yet to file with the PDC.
Stakelin, 42, of Rochester is government affairs director for the Olympia Master Builders. He also is a past deputy coroner for Thurston County and a past deputy sheriff in Whatcom and Grant counties, Stakelin said. PDC filings show Stakelin so far has raised more than $2,000 for his campaign.
If elected, Stakelin said he would emphasize the environment and economic development. He also is a proponent of the port’s marine terminal.
A campaign kickoff gathering for Stakelin is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Greene Realty Group offices off Harrison Avenue in west Olympia.
Olympian reporters Matt Batcheldor, Rolf Boone, Venice Buhain and Christian Hill contributed to this report.