McEntire, Gase lead in Clallam County; Tharinger, Van De Wege lead overall count
Sequim Gazette staff
Democrats Steve Tharinger and Kevin Van De Wege, both of Sequim, hold early leads in the 24th Legislative District after the first ballot count was revealed Tuesday night.
T haringer holds a 1,453-vote lead over Jim McEntire, of Sequim, for State House of Representatives, Position 2, while Van DeWege holds a 4,529-vote lead over Dan Gase, a Port Angeles real estate broker.
Tuesday’s results showed a number of close races, including ones for Clallam County Commissioner position 3 and county treasurer.
Tharinger moves ahead statewide
McEntire, a Port of Port Angeles Commissioner, had a 1,242-vote lead in Clallam County but was down districtwide in his bid to succeed nine-term Rep. Lynn Kessler as Sequim’s voice in the state House of Representatives.
“I look forward to the vote trending toward my candidacy,” McEntire said Tuesday evening.
Tharinger has said he will serve out his term as county commissioner. He has oversight responsibilities for five county departments: Health & Human Services, Community Development, Treasurer, Assessor and Cooperative Extension.
“I’m honored to have the votes of the citizens of Clallam County and the 24th District, and I look forward to serving you,” he said.
During the campaign, Tharinger said he is “uniquely qualified to help put Washington back on the path to prosperity and fiscal responsibility. I have a proven record of administrative expertise and balancing budgets without compromising government services and I am known throughout our local community as an accessible, pro-business public servant committed to maintaining a healthy and sustainable business climate in the 24th District.”
Tharinger said that as a state representative his top priority will be to provide economic relief to local communities, protect the local environment and protect the “family wage jobs that Sequim desperately needs.” He also promised to “bring financial responsibility and free-market efficiency to the state government.”
“I plan to use my experience to balance the state budget in a way that protects local jobs and government services from reckless, ideologically motivated budget-slashing.”
Van De Wege holds statewide lead, Gase ahead in county
Van De Wege, the incumbent from Sequim seeking to hold onto his state representative District 24, Position 1 seat, holds a comfortable lead against Gase in statewide results Tuesday night.
His campaign officials released a victory statement not long after results were released.
“I am extremely honored and humbled by the news that I have been re-elected for a third term,” Van De Wege said in the statement.
“It means so much to me that our local communities have placed their faith in me to continue to fight for a better future for Washington. I would like to thank my family, all of my supporters, and especially the campaign staff, donors, and volunteers who made this victory possible.
This election looks to be his third term and second re-election.
Van De Wege said his first task will be creating more jobs for the North Olympic Peninsula.
“Any job creation is good especially for infrastructure and construction jobs. That’s the industry that’s really struggling,” Van De Wege said.
Gase, a real estate broker from Port Angeles, held a 522-vote lead in Clallam County following Tuesday night’s results.
“(I’m) very excited, cautiously optimistic and just thrilled to have a chance to participate,” Gase said Tuesday.
Kelly topping Freedman
Clallam County Prosecutor Deb Kelly expects a third term in office after preliminary ballot counts showed her leading in the race against Sequim attorney Larry Freedman.
“(I’m) very pleased,” Kelly said Tuesday evening. “I’m grateful for those who stopped by to support us.”
Kelly touted a tough on crime stance and a 91-percent conviction rate during the campaign. Freedman disputed the conviction rate and provided his own numbers from the Washington State Courts website showing only 39 percent of cases that went to trial were found guilty as charged over the past five years.
Freedman also criticized the large turnover in the Prosecutor’s Office as a reflection of Kelly’s poor management. During the past four years of Kelly’s second term as prosecutor, 30 people have left, he said. The Prosecutor’s Office has 21 positions.
“It was a very negative campaign,” Kelly said. “It was demoralizing. (I’m) pleased that the voters saw through it.”
Freedman said, “We’ll just have to wait and see. There are a number of votes that haven’t been counted where we have strength.”
Roark Miller pulls ahead
Sheila Roark Miller of Carlsborg seems en route to succeeding incumbent John Miller as director of Community Development after the initial ballot count Tuesday night.
“I’m very pleased,” Roark Miller said Tuesday night. “I’m very happy for the citizens. I’m happy to have someone in office who will listen to them.”
The duo disagreed on nearly everything, especially building regulations, environmental policies and stormwater management.
Roark Miller said key issues were the Carlsborg sewage project and water rights.
“We’ll absolutely address those things in the future,” she said.
Her first course of action is looking over the budget and evaluating the department’s projected revenues.
She plans to meet with information technology staff about cross-training on the Community Development website to better serve people.
“The level of service we provide for the public is important,” Roark Miller said.
Poole ahead of Doherty
Robin Poole holds a slim lead in his bid to unseat long-time Clallam County Commissioner Mike Doherty.
Poole, a Republican who lives in Beaver, has 9,050 votes, 176 votes ahead of the incumbent.
Poole said he was prompted to run by current economic conditions in Clallam County. In his campaign statement, Poole told the Gazette, “You may not see me much on the campaign trail because I am fortunate enough to be able to work full time in a county plagued with unemployment. But if you are concerned about preserving current jobs and creating new ones for yourself and your family — I will lead that effort.
“If you’re concerned about having someone who will fight for a balanced county budget — and demand true fiscal accountability and transparency to folks in this county — I will lead that effort,” he repeated.
Doherty defeated Poole’s father in 1976 when the two both ran for county commissioner.
Doherty ran on his record, noting Clallam County is one of only two counties in Washington that is debt-free.
Barkhuis has slim lead
Judith Scott was vying for her a second term as Clallam County treasurer, but the first ballot count shows her trailing challenger Selinda Barkhuis — a Clallam County senior planner and nonpracticing attorney — separated by about 180 votes.
“Well, it’s pretty tight at the moment,” Scott said. “The next few days will be a little nervous.”
Barkhuis said she was optimistic.
“So far, so good,” Barkhuis said. “I have no idea what I’ll do this week. I’ll take it a day at a time.”
Barkhuis’ campaign centered largely around the theft of $617,000 from the Treasurer’s Office over a five-year period. Barkhuis blamed the theft on a lack of internal controls.
Scott, who has worked in the office since 1983, said she took responsibility for the theft by immediately placing the employee in question on leave and later fired her. Since the theft was discovered, new procedures have been put in place to make sure nothing like that ever happens again, she said.
Initiatives as of Tuesday evening