PACIFIC COUNTY — For months, it looked like only one county race up for election this fall would be contested. Except for the Public Utility District, this would have left Pacific County voters without a choice about who would represent them at the most local level of government.
But a pair of successful, last-minute write-in campaigns ahead of the August primary election ensured that voters will have a say in two additional county races when ballots for the Nov. 8 general election are mailed out in late October.
Jerry Doyle, a Raymond business owner, qualified as a write-in candidate for the north county-based seat on the Pacific County Board of Commissioners, and will face off against the incumbent, Michael “Hawk” Runyon. All county voters will cast ballots in the race this November.
Daniel Garcia, a Naselle businessman and Navy veteran, also launched a write-in campaign and qualified to be on the ballot for the sheriff’s contest this November, running against incumbent Robin Souvenir.
Jerry DoyleDoyle, 54, is a general contractor who has lived in Pacific County for 30 years. The owner of JBK Builders for nearly as long and a father of six, Doyle also serves on the City of Raymond Planning Commission.
Doyle said he had given thought to running for public office in the past, but that it was encouragement from the community that convinced him to throw his hat in the ring just before the primary election in August — he actually didn’t announce his intent to run until just days before Election Day, after most voters had already returned their ballots.
“A couple of people reached out to me to say it’s up for election this year, and I thought it might be something I should think about,” Doyle recalled. “It just kind of transpired quickly on the write-in part of it, and was able to luckily get some teamwork behind me.”
Doyle, whose company has done projects for the county in the past, said the betterment of the community was on his mind in deciding to run, and his intent, if elected, is to provide a fresh voice and keep the county moving forward.
“We’ve had a little bit of turmoil in some of our departments, [like] the Department of Public Works,” Doyle said. “It’s not a personal attack against any incumbents or anything, it’s just a different view. I have a different view of where we should be headed, and hope that we can achieve that and keep on a straight path for the county.”
Despite not declaring his candidacy until late in the process, Doyle secured enough support — easily clearing 1% of the total vote that is needed for the second-highest vote-getter — to appear on the ballot in the general election. Both he and Garcia will also be included in the voters’ pamphlet and online voters’ guide that are published ahead of the election.
Doyle, running as an independent, said the response since the primary has been positive and that he’s been working to get his name and message out to the voters. That doesn’t appear to be too difficult in the Raymond and South Bend area for the longtime business owner, but Doyle noted he’s trying to make inroads in south county and on the peninsula, too.
“I’m probably not as well known down at the beach as I suppose I am here, but I do plan to make my presence known down there,” he said, adding he and his family enjoy spending time in Long Beach and that it’s important to support tourism efforts and keep peninsula businesses thriving.
Aside from construction, Doyle said he enjoys watching his children play sports and being a supportive parent. Along with the planning commission, Doyle is also a longtime volunteer with the Willapa Harbor Girls Softball Association as a coach, umpire and assisting with field maintenance.
Daniel GarciaGarcia, 39, enlisted in the Navy when he was 17 and served from 2000-06, when he transferred to the Navy Reserve and served until he retired as a senior chief officer earlier this year. A father of four young children, Garcia and his wife now own a small business, Sons of a Carpenter Goods and Services, buying government auction items and selling them online.
He said he hadn’t given much thought to running for office before, but received encouragement from the Naselle community because of his military background and the fact that they didn’t want the sheriff’s race to be uncontested in the general election.
“I kind of laughed it off and gave a bunch of excuses for why not [to run], and as the weeks went on it started to weigh heavily on me,” Garcia said. He added that he began reading articles about the sheriff’s office online and sought feedback from community members about their experiences with the department, and announced his candidacy on July 29 — just a few days before Election Day.
Garcia, running as a Republican, said his candidacy “spread like wildfire,” and like Doyle he received well more than the 1% needed as a write-in candidate and second-highest vote-getter to qualify and be on the general election ballot this fall.
Although he lacks law enforcement experience, Garcia said his 22 years and nine deployments — five as a leader — in the Navy have provided him a wealth of experience that he would bring to the sheriff’s office. While on active duty, his primary job of aviation ordnance included accounting for, loading and maintaining launching equipment on aircraft, such as bombs, missiles and explosives.
After retiring from active duty in 2006, he went to school for fire sciences, but quickly realized he missed the military and decided to join the reserves. While in the reserves, he continued to be deployed in a number of different capacities, including detainee operations — “which is basically jailing” — maritime expedition security on small boats protecting high-value assets, as an armorer with Naval Special Warfare, and most recently was assigned with SEAL Team 17, a reserve SEAL Team, for their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program.
Garcia said he has been humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response to his campaign so far, and that people have been receptive to his candidacy after learning more about him. Above all, he believes the biggest asset he could provide the sheriff’s office is leadership.
“I feel that I have something to offer this county, in way of leadership in that office,” Garcia said. “I preach to my boys all the time that we protect those who can’t protect themselves — or those who are unwilling to protect themselves — and if you see a problem and know that you can do something about it, you don’t rightly walk on by.”