Clallam County prospects offer resumes
SEQUIM — The candidates shared similar views on the issues they should tackle if elected, but as their closing statements made clear during their first post-primary debate, Bruce Emery and Cherie Kidd have a contrasting background that they would bring to the job as director of the Clallam County Department of Community Development.
Emery and Kidd shared their thoughts on a number of topics including urban growth, the time it takes to get development permits, affordable housing and enforcement during the Sequim Rotary Club debate at the Dungeness River Center on Friday, three just days after the pair emerged from a four-candidate race in the first two primary elections of 2022.
The two will face off for the position in the November 8 general election ballot. Ballots are mailed out on October 19.
Clallam is the only county in the country where the Director of Community Development Department (DCD) is an elected position rather than an appointed one.
Emery, a former Clallam County planner, received 8,334 votes, or 30.37%, on Tuesday, while Kidd, the former mayor of Port Angeles, received 7,654 votes, or 27.9%.
In the primary, Jesse Major, Clallam County Public Records analyst and former code enforcement officer as well as a former Peninsula Daily News reporter, placed third after receiving 6,749 votes, or 24 .6% Tuesday.
Kevin Russell, two-time former president of the North Peninsula Builders, finished fourth and received 4,435 votes, or 16.16%.
Emery was assistant and association planner at DCD from 1993 to 2004 and senior planner from 2004 to 2007. Since 2007, he has worked as a project manager with North Pointe Construction LLC in Port Angeles.
“I have over 14 years of experience with the department and understand very well how it works,” Emery said Friday, noting his experience setting policies and regulations during his tenure as county planner.
“My opponent has a great experience in the public service; I respect her a lot,” he said.
“But there is a distinction: I actually did the work that the director will oversee.
“I have also worked in the private sector and have seen firsthand the impact the department and other departments in the region have had on the development community and the community as a whole.
“You need someone who knows intimately how it all works.”
Kidd has 16 years in public service, including time on the Port Angeles City Council and as planning commission chair, and on Friday highlighted her work to keep the William Shore Pool from closing and getting fencing from safety on the Eighth Street Bridges.
Kidd said: “The good news is you have two good choices…I would like your vote because it’s ‘Community Development Manager’ not ‘Community Development Planner’. This is a management position… working with county commissioners, working with the community, managing the department but not micro-managing.
“[This role is a] community leader, elected official. When people ask me for advice on running for office, I tell them, “It’s totally different to be a staff member.”
The two candidates said that the authorization of construction projects takes too long; both want to streamline the process, although Emery noted that “Clallam County is actually relatively efficient.”
Says Emery, “That doesn’t mean there can’t be more efficiency.”
Kidd said, “I want to look at the cost and reduce the cost of permits.”
Both candidates expressed concern about the rise of Airbnb-like short-term accommodations affecting the housing market, and both said they would study how other municipalities and counties handle policies around short-term rentals. .
“It’s time we looked at policies to regulate Airbnbs,” Kidd said. “We need to set limits on the integrity of our neighborhoods.”
Emery, however, said it was difficult to restrict the rights of landlords seeking to establish short-term rentals.
“I don’t believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Regulation can do a lot, but it cannot do everything. Regulation is like chemotherapy… the patient must be sick.
Both candidates answered questions about housing, or lack thereof.
Emery agreed to afford the costs, saying many of those fees should be paid or reduced since the public benefits.
He said infrastructure development in the county is essential, but in areas of urban growth.
“We live in a beautiful place; we have to protect it,” he said.
To learn more about the Clallam County elections, visit clallam.net/Auditor/Elections.html.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Olympic Peninsula News Group’s Sequim Gazette, which is also made up of other newspapers Sound Publishing Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Join it at [email protected].