We begin our political coverage this week, focused on local races that are most significant to our readers and the region’s constituents. Because so many races on the Nov. 8 ballot are uncontested, it has been a bit easier to decide what to cover. That said, it was necessary to make some calls about which races we could reasonably generate original coverage for.
We don’t do political endorsements for a variety of reasons, but we do our best to keep readers informed about their choices. This week we feature stories about two of the most high-profile contests, for Okanogan County Sheriff and Okanogan County Commissioner for District 3. The sheriff’s race matches one-term incumbent Tony Hawley against Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow. Coming out of the three-way August primary, Hawley had a slight lead over Budrow in countywide balloting, but it’s likely to be a close race. You’ll find the candidates’ answers to our questions starting on page A1.
For the first time in a while, District 3 will have a new county commissioner with the retirement of Jim DeTro. Lloyd Caton Jr. of Tonasket and Oroville Mayor Jon Neal emerged as the top two vote-getters from the primary, and are working to become more familiar with voters in the far corners of the sprawling county. Only District 3 residents voted in the primary. In the general election, all county residents will have a say. For the Methow Valley, getting to know the candidates has been a learning process. For responses from Caton and Neal to the questions we posed, also see page A1.
The race for county coroner wasn’t expected to be a race until shortly before the primary. Rojean (Jeannie) Hughes of Tonasket, the only candidate for county coroner who was listed on the ballot, drew 83.4% of the vote — but will nonetheless face competition in November. Incumbent Coroner David Rodriguez did not file for re-election, but a late write-in effort for Rodriguez generated considerable support — enough that his name will now appear on the ballot next to Hughes. Rodriguez will likely have the advantage of name recognition. We’ll have coverage of that race in the Oct. 19 issue.
Also in next week’s issue, we’ll look at the contest to represent Okanogan County Public Utility Commissioner District 1, matching Joseph Enzensperger and Jerry Asmussen. We’ll also offer coverage of the 4th Congressional District race in which Republican incumbent Dan Newhouse faces a challenge from Democrat Doug White. Newhouse fended off a field of Republican challengers in the primary, but only drew about a quarter of the overall votes. White nearly matched the incumbent in August and is campaigning aggressively. Still, the Democrat has some ground to make up if voters in the heavily conservative 4th coalesce around Newhouse.
Also in the ballot is the Methow Valley Emergency Services District levy renewal request. The levy supports Aero Methow Rescue Service’s first responder services. Residents within the Methow School District and Town of Winthrop will vote on the request, which would renew a levy that was first approved in 1991. We’ll take a look at why that request is important to valley residents in the Oct. 19 issue as well.
In state Legislative District 7, Incumbent State Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber is being challenged by Lonny Ray Williams of Republic but far outdistanced Williams in the primary and is likely to prevail. We’re not covering that race, but will help valley residents to become familiar with the legislators of District 7, including incumbent state Sen. Shelly Short, who is unopposed, and incumbent state Rep. Joel Kretz, who also has no challengers.
Filing for re-election, and drawing no challengers, were county incumbents Assessor Larry Gilman, Auditor Cari Hall and Prosecuting Attorney Albert Lin. Susan Speiker is the only candidate for county clerk, and Pam Anderson is the only candidate for county treasurer. We won’t be covering those positions.
In addition to the candidate coverage, we also planned to be on hand when the Twisp Valley Grange hosted a candidate forum for several local offices on Tuesday (Oct. 11). Expected to appear were District 3 county commissioner candidates Caton and Neal; PUD Public Utility commissioner candidates Asmussen and Enzensperger; county coroner candidates Hughes and Rodriguez; and Maycumber challenger Williams. We’ll summarize what the candidates had to say under questioning by constituents.
We don’t have the resources to cover other state or federal elections, such as the race for U.S. Senator matching Democratic incumbent Patty Murray and Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley. There are plenty of other sources of information about both of them. Look to the voters’ guide for background information and statements from all the candidates.
Ballots will be mailed on Oct. 20 for the Nov. 8 general election. Be informed and cast your vote. Every ballot is important.