2023 General Election: Incumbents fare well in Sequim School Board races

Incumbents in the race for the Sequim School Board — two of them Sequim Good Governance League-backed candidates — have significant leads after the first ballot count in the General Election following the release of results on Nov. 7.

Voters in both counties cast votes for three nonpartisan positions on the Sequim School Board.

Sequim School Board Position 1 incumbent Larry Jeffryes, a former chemistry and biology teacher who’s served since 2019, won a combined total of 6,757 votes, or 63.8% in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Park ranger John Graham, who garnered a total of 3,821 votes, or 36.1%, in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

The position is a four-year term.

Photos courtesy of the candidates / John Graham, left, and Larry Jeffryes

Jeffryes said the first time he ran for school board he was unopposed, and that it was “new and difficult” running in this election with an opponent.

“I didn’t know it had it in my genes,” he joked at an SGGL election results viewing party on Election Night, Nov. 7.

Graham said in an email that he is declining to offer any thoughts on the election until results are certified (Nov. 28).

Former principal Maren Halvorsen won a combined total of 7,457 votes, or 70.9%, in Clallam and Jefferson counties for the two-year unexpired term for Position 4, an at-large seat she now fills as an appointee.

Challenging her is former school board candidate Derek Huntington, who took a combined total of 3,045 votes, or 28.9%, in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

“I’m very happy (with the results),” Halvorsen said at the SGGL meeting. “I think people like my experience in education.”

Said Huntington, “I’m very disappointed of course, personally. I did a lot of work running for this position.

“I appreciate every body [who] voted for me, who took time to understand what I was running for.”

Photos courtesy of the candidates / Maren Halvorsen and Derek Huntington

Huntington said he felt his and other school board races was affected by who was backing certain candidates.

“I feel like there’s a certain local group — ever single candidate they backed won,” Huntington said. “It kind of disheartening for me for running. It was supposed to be very non-partisan, but it turned into something partisan.”

Michael Rocha, a local businessman and board appointee who currently holds the District 3 seat, has a slight lead in the election for Position 5, a four-year term. after earning a combined total of 5,216 votes, or 51.2%, in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Rocha was unavailable for immediate comment.

Challenger Sandra Kellso took a combined total of 4,950 votes, or 48.6%, despite having withdrawn from the race; she withdrew too late to be removed from the primary and general election ballots.

The race echoed a 2021 Sequim School Board race in which Kristi Schmeck filed for the Position 4 (at-large) seat and later decided to drop out of the race, but because she didn’t file a formal withdrawl soon after the filing week, her name remained on the ballot.

Eric Pickens, a teacher with the Port Angeles School District and the Sequim School Board president, is running unopposed for Sequim School District Director District No. 3, a four-year term; he currently holds the Position 5 at-large seat.

Halvorsen said she appreciated the fact there were several contested school board races, and that she hopes to see more involvement in future board elections.

With all four school board directors currently holding seats also holding leads in the General Election, the board make-up looks like it will remain the same for at least the next couple of years.

“I think [voters] want a functioning school board; that’s what they’re getting,” Halvorsen said.