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Election 2021: Ten candidates seek five open city council seats

Each vacant seat sees competition for Sequim city council leading up to the Nov. 2 general election.

With 10 candidates and no races seeing more than two candidates, everyone will advance past the Aug. 3 primary election. Five incumbents, with four of them appointed, look to maintain their seats for various two- and four-year terms. Debates and forums are anticipated to be held in some capacity by local community groups in the coming months.

City Council Position 2

Sarah Kincaid

Sarah Kincaid, incumbent, has lived in the Sequim area for 20 years and retired as a quality control manager for Mervyn’s. When asked why she’s running for the position, Kincaid said “because I love our little town.”

She was appointed by city councilors in April 2020 and wrote via press release she “understands many of the concerns on all sides of issues after having listened to many Sequim residents.”

From that, she said citizens’ priorities are increasing emergency care accessibility and housing affordability. Other issues/priorities include public safety, attracting enhanced medical services, fiscal stewardship, keeping a small town atmosphere, and helping Sequim be more welcoming for businesses.

Kincaid ran a write-in campaign in the November 2019 general election against former councilor Jennifer States, and was later appointed to the seat following States’ resignation.

Kincaid has been married 56 years, has two children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She volunteered for the Sequim Lavender Festival, Sequim-Dungeness Lions Crab Feed and more.

Kathy Downer

Kathy Downer, moved to Sequim two years ago after retiring as a nurse for 43 years and as council woman in Marietta, Ohio.

Downer said she chose to run after a majority of city councilors, including Kincaid, called for former city manager Charlie Bush to resign in January.

One of her top issues is for Sequim to address the lack of workforce/affordable housing.

She currently sits on the Sequim Planning Commission and felt their work to update guidelines for accessory dwelling units partially addresses this. She and other commissioners also recommended to city councilors that empty ground level storefronts that don’t face Washington Street be used for housing.

Downer said that “cooperation between the city, Clallam County and federal entities to secure funding can be sought for housing like the city of Port Angeles did.”

“The situation of soaring housing values is out of control for the moment,” she said. “The situation needs a long term plan, and Sequim is already addressing it.”

City Council Position 3, four-year term

Mike Pence

Mike Pence, incumbent, moved from Missouri about two years ago after serving as a municipal employee for 33 years in various roles and cities.

Pence wrote that he feels his executive experience has helped fellow councilors and that he considers “public service a privilege and a trust. It can never be about me or ideology.”

He added that he has the “most hands-on expertise in getting things done in local government (and) I am well-versed in government management and government process.”

Pence said Sequim needs a “healthy blend of residential, commercial, and clean industrial development for a well rounded community. ”

His council priorities include creating cost-effective housing by reducing building fees, creating a 24/7 emergency room, reducing regulations and fees to encourage businesses to relocate here, and continued support for police, firefighters and emergency medical services.

Pence is married with two children and six grandchildren. He owned/operated an 80-acre farm dedicated to wildlife preservation, and enjoyed golfing competitively for charity, fishing, hunting, woodworking and organic gardening.

Vicki Lowe

Vicki Lowe, has lived in Sequim her whole life (almost 56 years), and has served as the executive director of the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State since 2015. She said the idea to run for city council came from seeing unopposed positions on the 2019 ballot, and her having more free time with less travel required at work.

“The biggest push to run came from watching the turnover of resigning councilors,” she said, which led her to twice apply for appointment.

“I saw people who had not lived in Sequim very long running for the open positions. I don’t think there is anything wrong with newer people participating in local government but I saw a need for balance,” she said. “My life and work experience, connection to people in the community who might not feel represented by the current council will help me bring another perspective to the table.”

Lowe has worked for Sequim Safeway from 1984-1996 before working for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe whom she helped with employee benefits, insurance plans and the implementation of a human resources department. She also started working for the American Indian Health Commission in 2012 in development and implementation of the Tribal Assister project to help train and certify Tribal and Urban Indian Health Program staff as navigators in the Washington State Healthplanfinder.

As for her priorities on council, Lowe said she wants to help encourage affordable housing and seek “retention of healthcare workers (doctors and staff).

“There are not enough primary care providers in Sequim to support the people retiring here,” she said.

While some efforts are being made, Lowe said she’d like to “work to ensure implementation of their recommendations, as well as looking at mixed use land development and addressing the most vulnerable populations, those unhoused or hovering on the verge of it.”

City Council Position 4, four-year term

Rachel Anderson

Rachel Anderson, incumbent, has lived in Sequim most of her life and spends time volunteering for nonprofits, including OlyCAP as a board member representing low-income families on Sequim Education Foundation’s board. Prior to her council appointment in February, Anderson attended Sequim schools and received her AAS in accounting in 2009 from Kaplan University Online, and her AAS in business administration in March 2021.

As for why she seeks reelection, Anderson said she feels the council needs more diversity, since she is a “young, low income parent” and can bring that perspective to the council.

She also said council members “need to be participatory, responsive, and actively engaged in the community.”

Anderson said she conducts a lot of research prior to meetings, responds to each email from citizens and staff and makes sure to be “actively engaged in our community.”

“I really enjoy my role as a city council member,” she said. “I love learning everything I can from webinars I’ve watched, but I also love learning from city staff.”

She adds that her work ethic, positive energy, dedication and team-mindset offers a lot to the city.

One of Anderson’s top priorities is the need for affordable housing.

“There are a lot of barriers, but I’m really dedicated to doing what we can to work past those barriers, like building partnerships, in order to bring more affordable housing to Sequim,” she said.

Daryl Ness

Daryl Ness moved to Sequim in spring 2020 after working for BNSF railroad for 37 years. He started with the company as a switchman/conductor and retired as an executive in Seattle. Ness worked four more years as Chief Operating Officer of a small railroad in Portland, Ore., too.

Ness said he wants to offer his experience in managing large budgets and organizational skills to the council.

As for the city’s top issues, he said he’s interested in growing the city’s housing stock and looking at incentives for lowering barriers for the home building market.

Ness previously sought an appointed seat that was later given to Anderson in February. In an interview for that, Ness said he would listen to citizens’ viewpoints and that “finding middle ground is so important when possible.”

City Council Position 5, four-year term

Brandon Janisse

Brandon Janisse, incumbent, lived in Sequim from 1999-2003 before joining the military and moving back to Sequim in 2009. He works as a Control Room Tech at Clallam County Jail, after working as a department manager at Walmart and serving on the Sequim Planning Commission. In the US Army, he served a tour of duty in Iraq and was a Military Police Soldier.

Janisse said he’s running for reelection to “continue serving Sequim citizens.

“I believe Sequim is a great community but is facing some heavy challenges,” he said.

“It’s critical that we hire a city manager. This is our first priority to ensure smooth operations with Sequim’s day-to-day operations.”

Along with hiring a city manager, Janisse said workforce housing is another important issue.

“We need to make sure our code allows a multitude of different development types that can spur responsible and rational development,” he said. “Because Sequim does not qualify for multi-family housing credit, it’s hard to compete with other towns for apartment type housing that is affordable.”

He also prioritizes analyzing the feasibility of an emergency clinic in Sequim, and creating family wage jobs. Janisse says he’s been working with numerous parties to attract these types of companies.

“I will always have an open-door policy and am always willing to listen to anyone has comments/concerns,” he said. “I am very concerned with how council is currently functioning and I look forward to being a strong voice at the table considering my longevity and willingness to hear from any community members.”

Patrick Day

Patrick Day moved to Sequim in February 2020 after finishing a 27-year career in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Day said he was active in its union becoming a board member and then chapter president and a member of the Board of Directors of CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association). He was also elected to the statewide CCPOA Benefit Trust Health and Welfare helping handle medical, vision, dental and other employee benefit issues for the Correctional Officers in California.

“I have always considered public service as a privilege and honor; To Serve with honor Trust, and Integrity,” he said.

“I have always considered local government’s first priority to be public safety, because safety does matter. People must feel they are safe where they live,” he said.

Day joined the military after high school and served as a security police officer and was trained in Explosive Ordnance Disposal. He holds an Associate’s Degree from the Community College of the Air Force and a Bachelors in Science in Criminal Justice from the College of Alameda.

“I have really found a love and passion for trying to help people. I feel like the experience and knowledge I could bring to the city council of Sequim would be of a great benefit to the citizens of Sequim,” he said.

Following public safety, Day feels fiscal responsibility is a close second for local governments as a priority.

Other priorities for him include attracting new businesses through reducing regulations and fees to encourage them to come to Sequim, attracting a 24/7 emergency room in Sequim, ensuring affordable housing in the area, and supporting all city employees through the city council.

“They all need to know that the City Council will always have their backs,” he said.

Day is married and has two two daughters.

City Council Position 6, two-year term

Keith Larkin

• Keith Larkin, incumbent, has lived in Sequim about three years after a 41-year career as a firefighter for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, including six years as fire chief for Fresno County Fire Protection District.

He was appointed to city council in October 2020 saying his desire to remain on council is “a continuance of my life long commitment to public service.

“I have extensive experience in state and local government, management, budgeting and collaborative decision making,” he said. “I will listen to the citizens and utilize my skills and experience to achieve their desires for the City. I recognize the responsibility of standing between the taxpayer and the tax spender.”

Larkin, who serves as the city’s liaison with Colin Baenziger’s firm helping the city choose candidates for a city manager, said finding a new city manager is the council’s top priority.

In the coming years, he said the city council needs to focus on bringing an emergency care facility to Sequim, expanding growth opportunities, creating affordable housing, attracting new businesses, improving parks maintenance and recreation programs, and expanding the city’s waste management recycle program.

“I will meet with community members, stakeholders, City Council members and City staff to identify the challenges, determine actions and develop solutions,” he said.

Larkin also said the first job of local government is public safety and that “radical groups such as Antifa and permanent homelessness are two perils to our rural lifestyle. We must be able to meet them head-on by leveraging all resources in Sequim and surrounding jurisdictions.”

“I will pursue every avenue of cooperation with County and Tribal public safety resources to protect the people of Sequim,” he said.

Lowell Rathbun

Lowell Rathbun has lived in Sequim since 2017 after retiring from Tektronix, Inc., in Beaverton, Ore.

“I have been interested in politics and civic affairs since I was a teenager,” Rathbun said. “This is my first time running for elective office. I was drawn to Sequim for its beauty and sailing opportunities. This town has a widespread and favorable reputation for being a well-run city all over northern Oregon, where I spent the bulk of my career. I want to do my part to maintain that reputation.”

Rathbun said he began attending city council meetings shortly after he moved to Sequim in 2017 and that “the controversy over the Healing (medication-assisted treatment) Clinic was what initially drew him to attend the meetings, but as he sat through the proceedings, he learned the complexity of issues that concern the city and its citizens.”

He said the polarization of the city council is a distraction from addressing those issues.

Rathbun said he believes a good government is a compassionate government.

Of his priorities, finding affordable workforce housing is an important challenge that the city faces. “Working with other agencies to secure available county, state, and federal funds for affordable housing and to provide human services such as rental assistance and medical care for those who have been affected by the pandemic or who have simply been left behind is crucial to ensuring that Sequim is a healthy community,” he said.

“Treating homelessness and addiction as crimes only exacerbate those problems.”

Rathbun said he’s “running to restore transparency and accountability to our city government.”

“Beginning with the appointments to City Council in April of 2020, the council has become polarized, with the majority refusing to work with the minority. That is not healthy for our community and is contrary to the council manager form of government approved by Sequim voters in 1995. It’s time to bring integrity and good governance back to city hall.”

Rathbun was an instructor and executive board member for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Oregon and has been a longtime member of the Democratic Party; in Clallam County.

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