Democrats take leads in state rep, Clallam commissioner races

While local state legislators successfully earned bids for re-election, Mike French looked well on his way to unseat county commissioner Bill Peach and Ken Hays held a lead over incumbent Will Pursuer for Public Utility District commissioner in last week’s General Election.

The race for Director of Community Development — the only elected DCD position in the country — turned out to be a landslide, with Bruce Emery earning a sweeping victory over Cherie Kidd.

As of Nov. 10, voter turnout for the midterm elections in Clallam County was 33,381, or 58.3 percent, out of the 57,290 ballots provided registered voters. Another 6,500 ballots were estimated; another count was scheduled for Nov. 14, election officials said.

The election is certified on Nov. 29.

County Commissioner

After the Nov. 10 ballot count, French — a Port Angeles Democrat — has 17,107 votes (52.2 percent) to Peach’s 15,623 votes (47.7 percent) in his bid to unseat the District 3 Clallam County commissioner.

French said he felt his focus on housing for people of all income levels resonated with voters and that he was excited to work on that issue for the county if elected.

“I’m proud of our campaign,” French had said in an email. “It was a positive campaign about the issues. Neither candidate slung mud or made unsubstantiated claims about the other, and both campaigns raised and spent a reasonable amount of money to get their message out.

“Our campaign focused on long-term strategies to increase housing options for all of our neighbors at all economic levels, and hopefully that message got through to the voters and will carry us to victory.”

Peach, 67, is seeking a third term after defeating two-term Port Angeles City Councilwoman Sissi Bruch in 2014 and former Clallam County commissioner Mike Doherty in 2018.

He is a retired regional manager for Rayonier Inc. and has served as a Quillayute Valley Parks and Recreation District commissioner.

French has owned and operated the First Street Haven Restaurant in downtown Port Angeles for more than a decade. He was elected to a second term on the Port Angeles City Council in 2021.

In 2020, voters changed the county charter so the entire county votes for a commissioner, not just those in the commissioner’s district.

Director of Community Development

Emery landed a decisive victory over Kidd, the former Port Angeles mayor, for the role of Director of Community Development for Clallam County.

After Friday’s count of ballots, Emery had 20,207 votes, or 65.9 percent, while Kidd tallied 33.8 percent (10,359 votes).

Emery and Kidd were vying for a nonpartisan position that had been vacated by former DCD Mary Ellen Winborn, who worked remotely after relocating to Mississippi and then left office.

Clallam County is the only county in the nation that elects its DCD director rather than have the Clallam County commissioners appoint a person for the position.

Emery said he believed his messaging as well as his background working as a DCD planner and with a private development company ultimately led to his victory.

“Our message was pretty good. The one thing I had going for me was several years of experience not only with the department but also in the private sector and I do think that resonated with the voters,” Emery said.

“It’s a skilled position, not just an elected head and we need someone with that background to manage the permit function and the advisory function for the county commission and land use policy and regulation,” he said. “Those are all things that I have done.”

Kidd said she was thankful for the opportunity to run for the role.

“I am so humbled and grateful for the thousands of people who put their trust and support in me,” she said. “It was a great adventure and I worked really hard.”

PUD commissioner

Hays, the former Sequim mayor, held a slim lead after the Nov. 10 ballot count with 11,845 votes (50.8 percent) to Purser’s 11,400 votes (48.9 percent)

“I have felt confident about our chances from the beginning of the race,” Hays said after the first ballot count revealed on Election Night (Nov. 8).

“I always thought this race would be close, and I think that is what we are seeing.”

Purser has been a commissioner for the Clallam County PUD since 2001.

“One of the amazing things about this campaign has been how little people know about what the PUD does, and I think Mr. Hays sort of played on that,” Purser said following Election night results.

“He’s promised a lot of things that he cannot deliver on. But if people want to believe that, then so be it … If Mr. Hays is successful, he will be part of a three-man commission and will not be able to do things unilaterally.”

State Legislative races

Clallam County Democrats Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger posted strong ballot numbers in Jefferson and Clallam counties to earn re-election for their respective postilion.

Chapman, of Port Angeles, had 36,345 votes (58.1 percent) to Republican Sue Forde’s 26,209 votes (41.9 percent).

Chapman, who took office in 2017, said last week he is always humbled and honored to win an election.

“When your name’s on the ballot, elections are a little stressful,” Chapman said. “Campaigns are hard. Now the real work can begin. Campaigns are about the candidate; governing is about the citizens we represent.”

In a statement, Forde said, “I want to thank all those who have volunteered and supported our campaign. We have spent the past months running a grassroots campaign connecting with voters throughout the district.”

Tharinger earned 35,528 votes (57 percent) to Carlsborg Republican Brian Pruiett’s 26,771 votes (42.9 percent).

A Port Townsend resident who has held his seat since 2011, Tharinger said he was heartened by the Election Night results.

“I think we tried to really be positive,” Tharinger said. “I tried to focus on things we’re working on for the district.

“I think the voters responded to that. It’s better to be for something than against stuff.”

Pruiett did not immediately respond to request for comment.

U.S. House, Senate

Democrat Derek Kilmer has been elected to a sixth term in the U.S. House in Washington’s 6th Congressional District. The district covers Clallam and Jefferson counties, along with Grays Harbor, Kitsap, Mason and Pierce.

Friday’s ballot count showed Kilmer with 173,283 votes (61.2 percent) to Republican Elizabeth Kreiselmaier’s 109,675 votes (38.7 percent).

Both live in Gig Harbor, although Kilmer was born and raised in Port Angeles.

Kilmer released a statement on Nov. 9, thanking voters for re-electing him.

“I’ll keep fighting for an economy that works better for everyone, so that no matter where you live or the circumstances you were born into – you have a shot,” he said.

“I’ll keep working to protect working people and to ensure people in our country have affordable healthcare. I’ll keep fighting to defend Social Security and Medicare. I’ll keep fighting to defend our democracy and protect voting rights. I’ll keep fighting to defend clean air and water and to take action to combat the climate crisis. And I’ll keep fighting to defend every woman’s right to make her own personal health care decisions without the interference of politicians.”

The reelection of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, was approved in Clallam County by 52.5 percent to Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley’s 47 percent. Statewide, Murray beat Smiley 56.6 percent to 43.2 percent.

King takes sheriff race

Clallam County Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King defeated Marc Titterness, an officer with the Port Townsend Police Department, in the race for Clallam County sheriff with almost 76 percent of the vote as of Friday’s ballot count.

King received 23,062 votes to Titterness’s 7,261 votes.

“This really affirms my belief in what the citizens of this county really, really want, that they recognize that they have a truly a professional, responsive and community oriented law enforcement agency,” King said. “I just want to continue to maintain that.”

King, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 2001, was endorsed by current sheriff Bill Benedict, who announced in March that he would not run for reelection after four terms in office.

Titterness, who is a former deputy with the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, said that he planned to continue working for the Port Townsend Police Department.

“This was this was about trying to make change in the community and regardless of the results of the election, it highlighted the issues with the staffing at the sheriff’s office to make those changes,” Titterness said.

“It’s not the result that we had hoped for, but, you know, I think the community is going to be better because of it.”

Titterness called running for public office for the first time, “an emotional rollercoaster, up and down,” adding, “I would recommend everybody do it once, and understand what it what it is,” he said.

King said that he planned to continue the Sheriff’s Office’s focus on investigative work while building on community oriented policing strategies.

“I believe that the success of our department comes from how successful we are conducting all of our investigations and the community is a force multiplier for being our eyes and ears,” King said. “By partnering with them, by creating those relationships we get so much more cooperation and being able to really keep our county safe.”

An immediate priority, King said, is the construction of a seismically tolerant Emergency Operations Center (EOC), a project he said he hopes to see start rolling soon.

“We’re going see that probably in the next couple of weeks, “King said. “But it’s really keeping the gas on the pedal to make that a reality. That’s just something that we really desperately need in this county right now.”

Like Titterness, King was running for public office for the first time.

“Everybody tries to give you advice, prepare you for what it’s going to look like, but until you actually do it, you don’t realize how big of a job and how big of a commitment it is,” he said. “It’s awesome to get back to work.”

Advisory votes, unopposed candidates

Clallam County, like the state at large, voted to repeal two taxes enacted by the state Legislature in advisory votes that appeared on the ballot. Advisory Vote No. 39, which asked voters to decide on increase in aircraft fuel, was repealed statewide by of 59.5 percent to 40.5 percent, according to the Office of the Secretary of State’s most recent results, and in Clallam County by 61.8 percent to 38.2 percent.

Advisory Vote No. 40, a tax on “transportation network companies” was repealed statewide by 52.8 percent to 47.2 percent and in Clallam County by 54.1 percent to 45.9 percent.

Several candidates for county positions ran unopposed and were all elected to their respective positions. Candidates who ran unopposed in the election are Clallam County Treasurer, Jennifer White; County Assessor, Pamela Rushton; County Auditor, Shoona Riggs and Prosecuting Attorney, Marc Nichols.

Clallam County voters also approved the three unopposed state Supreme Court Justices, Mary Yu, Barbara Madsen and G. Helen Whitener. Other unopposed judicial candidates approved by Clallam County voters include Court of Appeals, Division, District 2, Position 1 Judge Erik Price; District Court 1 Judge Dave Neupert and District Court 2 Judge Bruce Hanify.

Editor’s note: Reporters Brian Gawley, Paula Hunt, Ken Park and Peter Segall contributed to this report.

2022 General Election Results

(as of Nov. 10)

• Clallam County races

County Commissioner District No. 3 (4-year term)

Mike French 17,107 votes (52.2 percent)

Bill Peach* 15,623votes (47.7 percent)

Director of Community Development (4-year term)

Bruce Emery 20,207 votes (65.9 percent)

Cherie Kidd 10,359 votes (33.8 percent)


Brian King 23,062 votes (75.9 percent)

Mark Titterness 7,261 votes (23.9 percent)

Public Utility District 1/District 1 (6-year term)

Ken Hays 11,845 votes (50.8 percent)

Will Purser* 11,400 votes (48.9 percent)

• State races

Legislative District 24/State Representative, Position No. 1 (2-year term)

Mike Chapman* 36,345 votes (58.1 percent)

Sue Forde 26,209 votes (41.9 percent)

Clallam: Chapman 17,821, Forde 15,256 (53.8-46.1)

Legislative District 24/State Representative, Position No. 2 (2-year term)

Brian Pruiett 26,771 votes (42.9 percent)

Steve Tharinger* 35,528 votes (57 percent)

Clallam: Tharinger 17,317, Pruiett 15,688 (52.4-47.5)

Secretary of State (2-year unexpired term)

Julie Anderson 1,128,189 votes (46.5 percent)

Steve Hobbs 1,202,504 votes (49.6 percent)

Clallam: Anderson 15,931, Hobbs 15,194 (49.2-46.9)

Advisory Vote No. 39, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5974

Maintain 965,190 votes (40.5 percent)

Repeal 1,417,863 votes (59.5 percent)

Clallam: Repeal 19,329, Maintain 11,995 (61.8-38.2)

Advisory Vote No. 40, Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2076

Maintain 1,117,454 votes (47.2 percent)

Repeal 1,249,520 votes (52.8 percent)

Clallam: Repeal 16,897, Maintain 14,313 (54.1-45.9)

• Federal races

U.S. Senator (6-year term)

Patty Murray* 1,420,767 votes (56.6 percent)

Tiffany Smiley 1,083,026 votes (43.2 percent)

Clallam: Murray 17,336, Smiley 15,579 (52.6-47.2)

Congressional District 6 U.S. Representative (2-year term)

Derek Kilmer* 173,283 votes (61.2 percent)

Elizabeth Kreiselmaier 109,675 votes (38.7 percent)

Clallam: Kilmer 18,389, Kreiselmaier 14,759 (55.4-44.5)

* — Incumbent

• Unchallenged races:


Assessor (4-year term) — Pamela R. Rushton

Auditor (4-year term) — Shoona Riggs

Prosecuting Attorney (4-year term) — Mark Nichols

Treasurer (4-year term) — Jennifer White

District Court 1 Judge (4-year term) — Dave Neupert

District Court 2 Judge (4-year term) — Bruce Hanify


Supreme Court, Justice Position 1 (6-year term) — Mary I. Yu

Supreme Court, Justice Position 5 (6-year term) — Barbara Madsen

Supreme Court, Justice Position 6 (6-year term) — G. Helen Whitener

Court of Appeals, Division 2/District 2 Judge, Position 1 (4-year unexpired term) — Erik D. Price

Photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group / Election worker Phyllis Lawyer of Sequim sorts ballots on election day (Tuesday, Nov. 8) at the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles.