OLYMPIA — Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee will seek a third term as governor, giving him a chance to regain votes in counties that abandoned him in 2016.
Inslee lost in Pacific and Grays Harbor counties during his reelection campaign in 2016, despite winning both counties when he ran for governor in 2012. These were among the five counties across Washington that voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 after having previously voted for Former President Barack Obama in 2012.
Inslee’s decision to run for reelection came Thursday, the day after he ended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. If Inslee wins a third term, he will be the first Washington governor to hold three consecutive terms in office since Republican Gov. Dan Evans, who served from 1965 until 1977.
Oysters and shellfish
To better serve the people in his district, State Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, said he wants Inslee to try and repair his relationships with the shellfish and fishing industries in the area.
Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, called Inslee’s treatment of the oyster farmers in the area egregious.
“I don’t imagine that he has as many supporters as he did eight years ago in our area,” Walsh said.
Walsh was the first Republican elected to Washington’s 19th Legislative District since the 1940s. The district includes all or parts of Pacific, Wahkiakum, Grays Harbor, Lewis and Cowlitz counties.
The tension between Inslee and local shellfish growers in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor began about four years ago when the growers were working to control the exploding ghost shrimp and blue mud shrimp populations. The shrimp stir the bay’s bottom, causing oysters to sink into the sandy mud and suffocate. In April 2015 the state Washington Department of Ecology issued a permit allowing oyster and clam growers in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor to spray up to 2,000 acres of tidelands with imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide.
But after statewide negative outcry sparked by a Seattle Times column that said the pesticide would have unintended consequences to local sea life, the Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association told DOE it was suspending the permit.
Growers applied for the permit again in 2016 and remained in stasis for two years as they waited for Ecology to make a final decision on the use of the chemical spray.
In April 2018, the department denied the growers’ request for a spray permit while at the same time promising to spend about $1 million researching alternative methods for controlling the shrimp.
“The bad stuff he’s done [is] targeted at our area,” Walsh said. “The good stuff that he’s tried to do are very broad. I would like to see some positive things that are as directly targeted to our area as the negative things are.”
About a quarter of U.S. oysters are grown in Willapa Bay and nearby Puget Sound and the shellfish industry is the largest private employer in Pacific County. If the shrimp cannot be controlled, growers have said previously they anticipate 90 percent of their acreage will cease to be viable.
The governor’s administration has directed specific funds to Willapa Bay and its oyster growers, said Tara Lee, deputy communications director for the governor’s office.
The 2018 supplemental budget and the 2019-2021 biennial budget had a combined $600,000 in funding for the Washington Coast Shellfish Aquaculture Study, a three-year applied research project to assist planning and collaboration among tideland managers, owners and regulators in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.
The administration also appropriated about $500,000 of the state toxics control account for the Department of Agriculture to study the use of imidacloprid as a means to control the burrowing shrimp and related costs. The department is researching diluting pesticides to reduce harmful effects to use on the shrimp as well as looking into the idea of putting netting down on the tide flats.
A few Republicans have already announced plans to run for governor, including Phil Fortunato, a state senator, and Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, in eastern Washington. A Republican has not occupied the governor’s office in more than three decades.
Before Pacific County votes on whether Inslee should be governor again, residents will make the call on who will serve in several local roles.
Local government positions will be listed on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. City councilors, judges and fire commissioners are among those up for election.
A new batch of candidates came about earlier this month during a special filing period Aug. 12-14. Offices included in the period didn’t draw candidates before the county’s regular filing date, May 15.
South county positions available included two Ilwaco City Council seats, one director position for Naselle School District. In Ilwaco, Dave Cundiff and James Berglund will compete to replace former councilor Jared Oakes. Jonathan Quittner will replace councilor Kenneth Sprague.
North county positions included a commissioner position for Nemah’s Pacific County Fire District No. 7, and one commissioner position for South Bend’s Pacific County Fire District No. 8. The Nemah position will be filled by Rose Nisbet.
No one filed for the open positions with Naselle School District and South Bend’s fire district. The positions will be filled by appointments.
Other candidates who filed for election
Judges: Court of Appeals Judge Anne Cruser will serve another three-year term. Pacific and Wahkiakum Superior Court Judge Donald Richter will run for a one-year term against Michael Turner.
City councils: In Ilwaco, Councilors Matthew Lessnau and Kristen Mathison will serve four more years.
Long Beach Mayor Jerry Phillips, and Long Beach City Councilors Tina McGuire and Del Murry will serve four more years. McGuire’s husband, Donald McGuire Jr., and Sue Svendsen will run against each other for Steven Linhart’s council seat.
School districts: Don Zuern will retain his Ocean Beach School District seat for another four years. He will be joined by Anna Taft and John Holtermann, who both filed for unopposed seats. Taft and Holtermann will replace Kathy Mathews and Mike Robinson.
In Naselle, Chuck Hendrickson will serve another four years.
Ports: Gary Kobes will serve another six years for the Port of Chinook. Steve Newell and Butch Smith will serve six more years for the Port of Ilwaco.
Fire districts: Incumbent Fire District No. 1 Commissioner Dennis Long will face challenger Steve Kovach in Ocean Park.
In Chinook, Leslie Colvin and Allen Wainamo will serve another term for Fire District No. 2. Clifford Kilponen will serve another term for Fire District No. 4 in Naselle.
Hospital: Sandy Stonebreaker will serve another six years on the Ocean Beach Hospital Commission. Ariel Smith will take over Steven Linhart’s commission seat for a six-year term.
Water, sewer districts: Water district commissioners Jacob Moore (Chinook) and Glenn Ripley (North Beach) will each serve another six years.
Seaview Sewer District Commissioner Candy Glenn will also serve another six years.
Editor’s note: This article includes reporting from the Associated Press and by Chinook Observer reporters.