Sequim mayor mulls challenging Tharinger for commissioner seat
Posted on Wednesday 19 May @ 00:45:12

Sequim Gazette

Sequim's mayor is considering a run for county commissioner, saying he believes east end residents' concerns are being passed over by the current commissioner.

"I do not believe that we have good representation on the east end. I do not think he is in tune with the people," said Walt Schubert of commissioner Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness. "If I think I can do more for the good of the citizens at the county level then I will run for commissioner."
Tharinger, who heard Schubert's comments at the May 17 Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce meeting, said he does not agree with Schubert's stance.
"Just having been re-elected, obviously there are some people who think I am doing a good job," said Tharinger, who defeated Sue Forde last November, earning his second term as commissioner.
Schubert is up for re-election next year for his Sequim City Council position. He is going to make a decision on a run for county commissioner before council election time.
"If I am going to run for commissioner I cannot in good conscience run for council," said Schubert, adding he would most likely run as a Republican. "I do not identify with the Democratic party at all."
Should he run for commissioner, Schubert would be out of local politics for two years, waiting for the 2007 election season. He also said if elected the job would be short-lived.
"I am not a politician and I'm not trying to make it a career," said Schubert. "If I do run it will be a one-time thing, a one-term thing."

Main issues of contention
"I am really unhappy what has happened with the city and county," said Schubert as he highlighted two main areas he said he believes Tharinger did not do enough for Sequim residents.
Two years ago the city applied for a $450,000 county Opportunity Fund grant. The money would be used to extend a reclaimed water pipeline down Brown Road to the proposed Gierin Creek Golf Course and Brown and Port Williams roads. The city would then sell water to the golf course for irrigation and course maintenance purposes.
The county - frustrating city manager Bill Elliott and Schubert with its decision - turned down the grant.
"It does not matter if it is Sequim money or county money, it is all taxpayer money," said Schubert. "I think the taxpayers expect the county and city to work together, not be adversarial."
A full grant was rejected, Tharinger said, because the city would earn income while benefiting from a county grant. The city was offered a $350,000 grant and the additional $100,000 as a long-term loan from the county but that was rejected as well, according to Tharinger.
The city of Forks, Tharinger pointed out, accepted this week a similar Opportunity Fund grant proposal, taking part of the money as a grant and the rest as a 20-year, no-interest loan from the county.
Schubert also said he felt Tharinger did not take east end citizen concerns into consideration when the county appealed both the Wal-Mart and Sequim Village Marketplace retail developments.
"The way the county conducted itself through the process of these developments coming to town," said Schubert, "they were not an ally, they were an adversary."
"I am disappointed the mayor would say that," said Tharinger. "He is coming at it from a perception of a part-time city council person, not a full-time county commissioner. I think he has a flawed perception of what the issues are."
Tharinger said the county Department of Community Development was one of many government agencies that provided public comments on the city's decision to approve both retail developments - a process, Tharinger added, that is allowed by law.
"We did not take any court actions against the city," said Tharinger, as community group Sequim First continues to do against both retail developments. "The traffic and stormwater issues, we brought these forward."

Learning what the people believe
Schubert said whether or not he runs for commissioner, he is going door-to-door this summer to learn what people in the Sequim community believe are the most important issues for the area.
Schubert said this is going to be a stand-in for something he has wanted to do for almost a year now - holding a town hall meeting to talk about Wal-Mart, Sequim Village Marketplace and the planned large retail growth in Sequim. City attorney Craig Ritchie said that the town meeting concept has to wait until there are no court cases involving the retail developments. Ritchie told council members repeatedly not to make public comments about the cases because their statements could be used as a basis for filing appeals.
"I am going to walk the whole town again, just like I did when I was first elected to the council," said Schubert. "I am going to ask them how they are feeling about what we are doing."
Tharinger stated he believes the three county commissioners, Mike Doherty, D-Port Angeles, Mike Chapman, R-Port Angeles and himself, are doing a good job for all county residents without focusing only on their own constituents.
"I do believe that we have a good team with bringing three distinct perspectives here," said Tharinger. "As a county commissioner you are not parochial to any city or region."
Chapman is up for election this year, and Tharinger said he is very supportive of the Republican commissioner's work, although he stopped short of a full endorsement.
"I think Mike is doing a good job and we have a good team making decisions," said Tharinger.
--by Dan Ross
Gazette editor
Published 5.19.04



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref.]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site