Despite early worries that some public hospital commissioner positions would be left unfilled, eight candidates stepped forward Friday to run for office — joining six who had previously filed.
The week-long election filing period ending Friday afternoon.
The list includes Aberdeen Police Chief Bob Torgerson, Aberdeen High School Principal Rocky Rocquin, three members of the current hospital board and two hospital employees.
The open Grays Harbor County Commissioner seat drew four candidates and incumbent PUD Commissioner Russ Skolrood will face two challengers — including a former commissioner.
Voters will see a few options regarding the proposed formation of Grays Harbor County Public Hospital District No. 2 on the August ballot. One measure will ask voters to approve or deny the measure to create the district, converting it from a private, non-profit hospital to a public hospital district owned by the citizens. And the ballot will include candidates for the commission that will run the district.
If voters approve the measure to create the district, seven commission positions will be created — one for each of the five sub-districts, and two at large positions. Commissioners will typically serve six-year terms, but the initial terms will be a little more complicated, explained Katy Moore, the county’s election administrator.
“The terms will be six years, however, initially when a district is created the terms will be staggered so that they don’t come open again at the same time,” she said. “The length of the term is determined by the number of votes the candidate gets. The candidates with the highest number of votes will get the longest terms.”
Early in the week, local officials worried that candidates wouldn’t be found for all of the seats. But eight candidates filed Friday.
Grays Harbor Community Hospital’s Chief Financial Officer Timothy Howden filed for the first at large position. He has worked for the hospital for 27 years and will retire in July. He said he hopes to maintain the legacy he helped build.
“I would work to get the lowest tax revenue possible to maintain the current standards,” Howden said.
He will face Aberdeen Police Chief Bob Torgerson in the upcoming election.
Another candidate, Ryan Farrer, filed for the second at large position. Farrer has worked as a doctor on Grays Harbor for the past 10 years and is currently the hospital’s chief of staff.
Maryann Welch, the current board’s executive secretary, filed to run for the District 1 position, representing Montesano, Central Park and the the Wynooche Valley Road.
Welch, who has served on the hospital board for five years, served as the director of the former Grays Harbor County Department of Social Services for 10 years and served as the director of the Grays Harbor County Department of Health and Social Services for an additional 10 years. She retired in 2007 and lives in the Vesta area.
“I feel very strongly about keeping our hospital healthy,” Welch said. “And serving on a hospital board has a steep learning curve, so I want to help out while I can.”
Welch will face Montesano resident Moraya Wilson, who works in sales and marketing for Protective Coatings Group Northwest.
Armando Juarez Jr. is the only candidate running for the District 2 position, which covers South Aberdeen, Cosmopolis and the South Beach area.
Miles Longenbaugh, a financial adviser with Edward Jones in Ocean Shores, is the sole candidate for the District 3 position, representing the north beach area, Humptulips and Quinault. He said he hopes to provide good representation for North beach citizens, many of whom have qualms about the hospital district.
District 4 has the most candidates, with four people declaring candidacy on the last day of filing. Rediviva restaurant owner and chef Andy Bickar will face current Grays Harbor Community Hospital board member David Monsen, Jim George and John Sherrett. The district covers Hoquiam and parts of the area between South Aberdeen and Westport.
Peter Scroggs, the current Community Hospital Board of Directors president, will compete for a District 5 seat against Aberdeen High School Principal Rocky Rocquin and Bruce Daniels, vice chairman of the Grays Harbor Republican Party. District 5 covers most of Aberdeen.
Grays Harbor County
Four candidates will face off for the third county commissioner seat, soon to be vacated by Commissioner Herb Welch.
Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines and Wishkah Valley resident Al Smith both filed early in the week, and were later joined by Quinault resident Keith Olson and Hoquiam resident Jim Heikel. Both Raines and Heikel filed as independents, Olson filed as a Republican and Smith as a Democrat.
Raines, Smith and Olson had all announced in recent months that they would seek office. Olson works in the timber industry, Smith works in alternative energy and Heikel is a retired firefighter.
The prosecutor race will feature two candidates: Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Katie Svoboda and former prosecutor and judge Mike Spencer. Both candidates filed as Democrats — Svoboda on Monday and Spencer on Tuesday.
The assessor’s seat is the only other contested county-wide race, with Loni Hooper, an independent, and Democrat Dan Lindgren challenging incumbent Assessor Rick Hole. Hooper is currently the chief appraiser for Pacific County, and Lindgren is an appraiser for Grays Harbor County.
Grays Harbor PUD
Grays Harbor PUD Commissioner Russ Skolrood will have competition during the upcoming election, with Hoquiam resident John Straka filing late in the week. Skolrood is a Hoquaim High School teacher and wrestling coach, and has served on the board for the past six years. He currently serves as the board’s president.
Straka has long been a critic of the PUD, and said his decision to run is based on concern regarding utility policies — specifically, recent rate increases.
“A lot of the policies Russ supports, I just don’t agree with,” Straka said.
Straka is also a Hoquiam resident and a retired social worker. He formerly owned Straka Trucking, now owned by his daughter, and sometimes helps out with the business.
Also in the race is Frank Moses, a former PUD employee and commissioner. Moses filed just minutes before filing closed.
Three local legislators will face opponents in the upcoming elections, with one challenger filing to run against Rep. Dean Takko, and Reps. Steve Tharinger and Brian Blake each facing two opponents.
Sequim Democrat Tharinger will run against Stafford Conway, a neurologist who lives in Sequim, and Thomas Greisamer, of Moclips. Greisamer currently works as a psychiatrist but plans to retire next week. Conway will run as a Libertarian, and Greisamer as a Republican.
Blake, D-Aberdeen, will face Grayland resident James O’Hagen, who didn’t list a party preference, and retired communications specialist Hugh Fleet of South Bend. Fleet will run as a Republican.
Takko, D-Longview, is being challenged by Libertarian David A. Steenson of Longview, who filed Tuesday.
Steenson said on his website that he decided to become a candidate “to reignite Constitutional fervor with ‘We The People,’ get government out of our personal lives; give the responsibility back to the individual, allowing so, builds strong families and businesses, so they can grow without overbearing regulations and taxes.”
Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, a Sequim Democrat, is also up for re-election but hasn’t drawn a challenger.
Congressman Derek Kilmer will face a familiar challenger in the upcoming election, with Gig Harbor-based real estate agent Marty McClendon, a Republican, also filing to run for the 6th Congressional District seat. Kilmer and McClendon ran against one another in 2010 in a race for a state Senate seat — a race Kilmer won.
The Democrat, who is completing his first term in the House of Representatives will also face a Port Angeles man who initially filed under the name W. (Greybeard) McPherson, but later changed the name to W. McPherson. He stated no party preference.
A fourth candidate, Douglas Milholland, filed for candidacy Friday. Like Kilmer and McClendon, Milhollond is no stranger to political campaigns. The Green Party candidate unsuccessfully challenged former Congressman Norm Dicks in 2010.
Vidette Editor Steven Friederich contributed to this story.
Congress, 6th District (2-year term)
U.S. representative: incumbent Derek Kilmer, W. McPherson, Marty McClendon, Douglas Milholland
Legislature, 19th District (2-year term)
State House, Position 1: incumbent Dean Takko, David Steenson
State House, Position 2: incumbent Brian Blake, Hugh Fleet, James O’Hagan
Legislature, 24th District (2-year term)
State House, Position 1: incumbent Kevin Van De Wege
State House, Position 2: incumbent Steve Tharinger, Thomas Greisamer, Stafford Conway
Grays Harbor County (4-year term)
Commissioner, Position 3: Al Smith, Vickie Raines, Keith Olson, Jim Heikel
Assessor: incumbent Rick Hole, Loni Hooper, Dan Lindgren
Auditor: incumbent Vern Spatz
Clerk: incumbent Cheryl Brown
Coroner: Lane Youmans
Prosecutor: Katie Svoboda, Mike Spencer
Sheriff: incumbent Rick Scott
Treasurer: incumbent Ron Strabbing
District Court, Position 1: incumbent Stephen E. Brown
District Court, Position 2: incumbent Tom Copland
Grays Harbor PUD (6-year term)
Commissioner, position 3: incumbent Russ Skolrood, John Straka, Frank Moses
At Large, Position 1: Robert Torgerson, Timothy Howden
At Large, Position 2: Ryan Farrer
Commissioner District 1: Maryann Welch, Moraya Wilson
Commissioner District 2: Armando Juarez Jr.
Commissioner District 3: Miles Longenbaugh
Commissioner District 4: David Monsen, Andrew Bickar, Jim George, John Sherrett
Commissioner District 5: Peter Scroggs, Bruce Daniels, Rocky Rocquin