Hospital, charter review candidates offer views at forum

Candidates for OMC commissioner, county charter review speak to public

Residents got to hear viewpoints from prospective hospital commissioners and charter review board members at the League of Women Voters of Clallam County’s June 27 forum.

Three candidates for Olympic Medical Center (OMC) commissioner, District 1, position 1, along with 10 candidates for the Clallam County Charter Review Commission, District 1, at the forum held at the Sequim Transit Center.

Warren Pierce, Nate Adkisson and Ann Marie Henninger, candidates on the ballot for OMC commissioner, gave opening statements as to their experiences, qualifications, and goals for serving in the position.

Following the Aug. 6 primary, two of the three candidates vie for the position in the General Election on Nov. 5.

Pierce and Adkisson have backgrounds in business management and the financial sector, respectively; they both said they want to help OMC run more efficiently, with Adkisson also wanting to find a way to help ease the financial burdens on those seeking medical care in the area.

A registered nurse, Henninger said she seeks to help improve the financial state of OMC by helping improve service reimbursement, but also spoke of OMC needing help with workforce recruitment and retention as well as improving provider access.

When asked about abortion access through the hospital, both Pierce and Adkisson expressed their pro-choice sentiments while saying that they don’t know enough about the entire situation as far as hospital policies and legal requirements to comment further.

Henninger stated, “I don’t consider abortion to be health care.”

She added, “I am aware of the law and I think it is possible for people to get what they want within that framework. I do agree with the current status of the hospital that it would not be providing abortion services; Jefferson General does … I absolutely acknowledge that that is a choice that people want to have — want to be able to make — and want to have access to accomplish.”

The opioid crisis was brought up as well, with all three candidates agreeing that OMC can do more. Pierce said he feels opiates are too cheap to acquire, and Adkisson spoke of the difficulties of “not in my backyard” attitudes in the area making offering treatment options challenging.

The candidates were also asked about the possibility of a hospital being built in Sequim, but they all spoke of the financial challenges that represents given steep Medicare reimbursement cuts in the region, as well as legal restrictions that make building a new hospital in the area difficult.

Charter review highlighted

Ten candidates for the county charter review commission had a chance to speak to those in attendance.

Five of the ten candidates for District 1 will be elected in November, and will begin their review process in January.

Candidates present were Jim Stoffer, Ted Miller, Donald Hatler, Tony Corrado, David Lotzgesell, Gary DeKorte, Alex Fane, Candace Pratt and Judith Parker. Sue Erzen was out of the area, and sent a representative to read a prepared statement.

The candidates were asked to speak of their qualifications and intended focus while on the commission, and many of the candidates spoke of environmental concerns, ranging from climate change to natural resource usage.

Lotzgesell spoke passionately about wanting to clean up abandoned and deteriorating properties, while Tony Corrado wanted to help put together a better emergency plan for the county. Stoffer, who serves on Sequim’s school board, talked of wanting to represent the interest of schools of all of Clallam County.

Parker spoke of her concerns of the current state of the Community Development Director position, a sentiment that was echoed by several other candidates a more informal question and answer session after the statements.

Washington State law allows its counties to adopt an individual constitution that allows them to alter their form of government, or to create additional requirements for their government beyond what the State constitution has in place.

One of seven charter counties in the state, Clallam County adopted its charter in 1976, amending the charter five times since then.

In the last review session in 2015, the charter review commission elected to move to have reviews performed in five-year cycles instead of the more traditional 10-year cycle.

A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a statement made by Judith Parker as having been made by another candidate.

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