Filing day one: Blake gets a challenger, Youmans for coroner

MONTESANO — Deputy Coroner and longtime cold case investigator Lane Youmans threw his hat in the ring for the coroner position Monday as the first day of filing wrapped up.

Among other filing news: State Rep.Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, is being challenged by Hugh Fleet, a retired telecommunications specialist. Blake has not yet filed, but has said he’ll run for re-election.

And PUD Commissioner Russ Skolrood of Hoquiam filed for re-election. He hadn’t publicly stated what he would do.

Filing for public office continues at the Grays Harbor Auditor’s Office until 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Filing can also be done online.

Among others who filed on Monday: State Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview; Auditor Vern Spatz, Clerk Cheryl Brown, Treasurer Ron Strabbing, Sheriff Rick Scott, District Court Judges Stephen Brown and Tom Copland.

Congressman Derek Kilmer filed for re-election. A Port Angeles man named W. (Greybeard) McPherson, who doesn’t state his party preference, filed to run against Kilmer.

County Commission candidates Al Smith of the Wishkah Valley and Vickie Raines of Cosmopolis both formally filed for the seat being vacated by Commissioner Herb Welch. Smith filed as a Democrat and Raines decided to check the box, “states no party preference.” Keith Olson, a Republican from Lake Quinault, has also said he’ll file for office, but hadn’t yet done so on Monday.

Assessor Rick Hole filed for re-election as a member of “Neither Party” again. Loni Hooper, the chief appraiser for Pacific County, filed to run against Hole as an Independent. Appraiser Dan Lindgren has also said he’ll file for the office, but didn’t do so on Monday.


Meantime, Youmans said he decided to run for coroner after serving as deputy coroner for seven years; a position he took on after 30 years working for the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office, the latter part of his career as a detective.

Youmans says he is still a cold case investigator, which he does mainly on his off time.

“There are still missing people out there, still unsolved crimes and I can’t stand it,” Youmans said.

Next week, the Discovery Channel is bringing a team down to the Harbor for a new show called “Murder Book” to tape a segment on Youmans, who linked one homicide in 1999 to two previous homicides in the early ’90s and helped prove David Gerard had committed all of them.

Youmans says a book called “Bloody Frenzy” was written about the slayings and it was extensively profiled in The Seattle Times. The written material probably led the Discovery series to his door step, Youmans admits.

“It was a brutal case involving a claw hammer that still gets talked about today,” Youmans said.

Youmans says he’s not sure when the piece will air — or if it will air before Election Day, for that matter.

Youmans says he will also seek the appointment to Coroner Dan Burns’ post. Burns retires on June 1. Youmans filed to run as a Democrat.

“I want to maintain the same level of profesionalism and comfort we offer to the public now,” Youmans says.


Fleet, who filed to run against Rep. Blake, took a stab at running for state Legislature back in 2010 up in Shonomish County, ultimately losing to state Rep. John McCoy.

Fleet is running as a Republican. He said he bought his home out near South Bend 10 years ago and moved there full time three years ago. He worked for Boeing for eight years, but the bulk of his career was at a GTE PBX technician and the telecommunication manager for the Marysville School District. He’s also a Navy veteran.

“I don’t believe either of our legislators are doing a good job representing the people,” Fleet said. “I don’t believe the state is bringing us in the right direction. I don’t believe they’re working hard to bring us jobs.”

Asked why he was specifically challenging Blake, Fleet replied, “The geography has a lot to do with it. … I don’t believe Brian has as big of a base” in the larger population areas of Longview.

Blake says he intends to file for public office on Tuesday.

“I’m proud of my record and I look forward to serving the good people of the 19th District for another term,” Blake said.


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