Election season in San Juan County may not end up being a snoozer after all.
Even though most candidates are unopposed and the county council has decided not to put any charter amendments on the ballot, races for sheriff and county clerk are likely to be hard-fought and local political parties are gearing up to challenge the “non-partisan” label.
The election for sheriff may be contentious. Deputy Ron Krebs has filed to oppose Sheriff Rob Nou, who won election in 2010 with 66 percent of the vote. Usually, an incumbent elected the first time with two-thirds of the vote against opposition would not face much of an election contest. But recent departmental disciplinary and transparency matters may make Krebs’ challenge significant.
And Krebs isn’t pulling any punches. On his Facebook page, he writes: “Our county deserves better than what you are getting.”
As he did in 2010, Nou is expected to wage a vigorous, positive campaign, according to sources close to the incumbent candidate.
At this writing, only four of 15 local races have competition. For county clerk, incumbent Joan White has drawn an opponent in District Court Clerk Nancy Vejvoda.
In the race for county treasurer, two political newcomers and first-time candidates are seeking to succeed retiring Treasurer Jan Sears. Rhonda Pederson, longtime county employee and now chief accountant for Auditor Milene Henley, is running against local banker Tony Fyrqvist. Both promise to run vigorous campaigns.
Pederson has lived on San Juan Island for 20 years. She worked at Haggen grocery, Geiser Escrow and 14 years for the auditor. Pederson cites that 14 years as the reason she “is the only reasonable choice for the position of treasurer – a position (she) feels she will transition into smoothly from the auditor’s office.”
Fyrqvist maintains his 30 years of banking experience (23 years at the Friday Harbor branch of Islanders’ Bank) qualifies him to be the county’s banker. “I will put the customer service skills and efficiency I have learned in private industry to work to serve the public as the San Juan County treasurer,” he said.
Federal, state races
Rick Larsen has filed for an eighth term in Congress representing the 2nd Congressional District, which includes all of San Juan and Island counties and parts of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom. Larsen has had three tough campaign and four relatively easy ones, including 2012 when he won more than 60 percent of the vote against Republican Dan Matthews. As of press time, his only filed opponent is Mike Lapointe of Everett, whose political involvement has been with the liberal Occupy movement.
The only other contested race is for state representative, where incumbent Kristine Lytton of Anacortes is being challenged by San Juan Island resident Daniel Miller, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Friday Harbor Port Commissioner in 2013.
Although at least one local attorney reportedly considered opposing the re-election of Randy Gaylord for his sixth four-year term as county Prosecutor, it looks like Gaylord may run unopposed for another four years.
“Serving as the public’s attorney has unique challenges which I enjoy,” said Gaylord in announcing his re-election bid.
State Representative Jeff Morris is unopposed as he seeks a 10th two-year term in the state House. Energy and telecommunications policy have been a major focus for Morris, who started in politics as an aide to former Congressman Al Swift and has held the Speaker Pro Tem position in the state House as well as several committee chairmanships.
Other unopposed candidates are: John Kulseth for assessor, chief appraiser for retiring county Assessor Charles Zalmanek; Milene Henley, incumbent Auditor first elected in 2006; Stewart R. Andrew, incumbent Judge, District Court; and Jamie Stephens, incumbent County Councilman, Lopez residency district, elected countywide.
Candidates have until May 18, to withdraw. The primary election is Aug. 5; the general election, Nov. 4.