Council candidates Armacost, Downer talk housing, social services

Editor’s note: This is the first part of our coverage of the League of Women Voters’ recent forum focusing on City of Sequim council candidates William Armacost and Kathy Downer. The next part(s) will run in the following edition and online along with a separate election interview with Armacost and Downer.

Climate, housing, social services and track records were the main topics in a comprehensive forum of Sequim city council candidates.

The League of Women Voters of Clallam County hosted six candidates via Zoom with more than 40 participants viewing the online forum. View it at

Vying for city council position 1 are: incumbent William Armacost and Kathy Downer; Jim Black and Dan Butler for position 2; and, Patrick Day and Harmony Rutter for position 6. Incumbent mayor Tom Ferrell is running unopposed for position 7 and did not participate in the forum.

Ballots were mailed out Wednesday, Oct. 18, with the General Election slated for Tuesday Nov. 7. Find more information at

Armacost, Downer

Downer, a retired nurse, opened the forum by discussing Armacost’s alleged connection to the QAnon conspiracy theory that he appeared to endorse in August 2020 on KSQM Radio’s “Coffee with the Mayor” program.

“Even though these seats are nonpartisan, I really feel like we should not let someone who has QAnon ideologies run unopposed,” she said.

“Mr. Armacost was appointed to council and then he ran unopposed and now Sequim has a choice in the matter.”

He and Sequim received national media attention for his comments saying “QAnon is a truth movement,” but he told a CNN reporter in January 2021 that he didn’t endorse or say he was a QAnon supporter.

Armacost, a salon owner, did not address Downer or her comments during the forum.

Downer continued to say that the city council is “elected to make evidence based decisions about our budget, city contract and what the citizens say they need” with this including jobs, housing and faster broadband.

“We need to be more open minded about social justice and not demonize homeless people,” she said.

“Affordable housing and homeless sheltering are two separate issues with two separate solutions.”

Armacost opened with discussing his time in Sequim as a family man, business owner, and as mayor during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the council voted to create Rapid Relief business grants to provide $500,000 to help keep businesses afloat, freeze utility rates for two years, and remove restrictions for low income seniors’ utility discounts.

“After the past four years, our city is in a better place than ever,” he said.

Armacost added that the hiring of city manager Matt Huish was “a game changer” with him implementing Fact Sheets for residents, and updating city systems for better efficiency.

Downer, who was elected in 2021, ran with a majority of the now-current city councilors with one of their issues being their opposition to the firing of former city manager Charlie Bush; his firing led to the hiring of Huish. This was not mentioned in the forum.

Housing issues

Asked about affordable housing options, Downer said she’s spearheaded the effort on affordable housing for the city council, and in her tenure they’ve changed zoning for accessory dwelling units, and she asked fellow city councilors to declare the city’s lack of affordable housing an emergency, and for them to reduce park impact fees by 50 percent for affordable housing developers.

She said Armacost voted against drafting a declaration and fee reduction, which he did on Sept. 11 saying he felt it was redundant to other city efforts and was unsure it’d move development forward. He and other councilors later unanimously approved the final draft of a declaration that states “workforce housing in the city has become an urgent situation.”

Armacost also appeared at the Sept. 11 meeting to favor giving Habitat for Humanity a pledge for a new Sequim project instead of reducing fees.

He said at the forum the council has agreed to allow multi-family developments in more areas in the city, and if the city is not able to obtain a Connecting Housing to Infrastructure Program (CHIP) grant to be repaid for general facility charges for low income housing, he’d consider a pledge to Habitat.

Support for local vocational education

Both Armacost and Downer voted in January to earmark $250,000 in city funds or in-kind services to the Sequim School District for a Career and Technical Education (CTE) building at Sequim High School, in hopes of seeking more state funding. However, the project didn’t receive the necessary funding and was put on hold.

Downer said she had mixed feelings about the project as the school district has its own monies to potentially pull from with levies and bonds. She said if the district sought funds again, she’d consider a pledge and job training for students with city staff.

Armacost said there’s a real need for people learning technical skills alongside those earning college degrees.

He added that city staff and Huish have organized meetings with developers/contractors on how to expedite their efforts to build housing.

Climate risks

Asked about what climate risks the Olympic Peninsula faces, Armacost said residents have been good stewards of the Olympic National Park.

“We are very conscious of moving forward of trying to leave it in a better condition than when we found it,” he said.

He noted previous city council members agreed to put solar panels on the Sequim Civic Center, and the Clallam Transit board is seeking greener options, such as hydrogen-fueled buses due to limitations of electric bus routes in the county.

Downer said it’s obvious the world’s climate has changed with the ocean warming, and worsening storms. She said the city has electric car charging stations, but they could use more, and she championed city efforts such as its water reclamation facility.

However, she said, the hydrogen used for buses is obtained by fracking, which she’s against, but would be in favor of it if the hydrogen is obtained differently.

Community services

On whether or not the city’s health and human service funding is correct, Downer said it’s the right amount as the agencies involved in the Sequim Health and Housing Collaborative had good histories with using money.

“There’s nothing wrong with giving money to other agencies, but it would be better to work in collaboration with other agencies, help them writing grants, help them by writing letters of support, and finding things for them that they need at that time,” she said.

Armacost did not directly answer the question, but said he was an original member of the Health and Housing Collaborative and he’s a member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Healing Clinic advisory board.

He said it’s “seen some remarkable results with that addition to our community and they are having success that nowhere in the country is able to meet those numbers.”

In his closing statement, Armacost said “the Jamestown Clinic has exceeded my expectations by creating a solution with pathways to treatment for those who are serious about restoring themselves into society.”

He said tribal chairman W. Ron Allen told him he’s glad he’s on the city council.

Armacost said his campaign is focused on unity, children, supporting police, enforcing drug policies, and finding treatment pathways.

“As your member of the city council I will represent you first and I will never back away from a fight when the good of the people of Sequim is at stake,” he said.

In her closing statement, Downer said she didn’t retire to Sequim to change it.

“I love Sequim,” she said. “It’s a very awesome place to live.”

View the full forum at