PORT ANGELES – Two Port Angeles city council candidates in each of the two races had the first stage of the electoral forum last week to discuss homelessness and other issues despite having a third-person record for disputed seats.
Post 4 incumbent Kate Dexter, council-appointed mayor, was joined by challenger John Procter, a retired veterinarian, at the Clallam County League of Women Voters Online Zoom event on Thursday featuring Port Angeles School Board and City Council races.
Position 4 candidate Jon Bruce dropped out of the race earlier last week citing time and financial constraints, though he stepped down too late to avoid his name still on the ballot , which will be sent to voters on Wednesday.
Also present were Samantha Rodahl, caregiver from Peninsula Behavioral Health, and Mike French, incumbent of post 2, owner of the restaurant First Street Haven.
Job candidate John Madden, a building contractor, said on Friday he had a prior work engagement – overseeing a flooring installation – and because he didn’t have a chance to complete a the League, which he thought was due at some point and was required for participation in the forum. He also objected to some of the questions.
Forum moderator and SU member Sue Erzen said questionnaire responses were not required for applicants to participate in the forum.
County election officials will send out more than 58,870 ballots for all races on Wednesday that must be turned in to the county auditor’s office by 8 p.m. on August 3 or must be postmarked by that date.
Homelessness and housing were the main topics of the forum.
“On other forums, some candidates have talked about cleaning the streets,” Erzen asked them.
“How do you do that and where do you plan to place the homeless people you want to remove from the streets and parks? ”
They were also asked what their main problem was, apart from homelessness.
“We have to offer these people the opportunity to seek treatment, and if they refuse, then we have to proceed with other alternatives,” said Procter.
Procter said he suspects most homeless people are offered housing, but given the option to give up drugs or alcohol instead of shelter, they choose the streets.
If they stay there, “then we have to hand it over to the police and let them do their job,” he said.
“The first thing we need to do is clean our streets of vagrants and drug addicts. We need to make our city cleaner, safer and more attractive to potential investors and potential retirees. ”
Police Chief Brian Smith said on Saturday that officers can provide services to people and enforce trespassing and disorderly behavior laws, but cannot arrest people for public drunkenness, being under the influence of a illegal drug, vagrancy or vagrancy.
“We cannot criminalize homelessness,” Smith said, adding that it was a legal concept established by state and federal case law.
Dexter, a specialist in the Peninsula College nursing program, said when asked where the homeless should be “put” rubs the wrong way.
“People aren’t garbage, they’re humans, and they’re part of our community, and I think it’s really, really important for us to remember that when we talk about how we find solutions. permanent to problems like chronic homelessness, ”she said. noted.
Its main problem other than roaming is the updating of the municipal code.
“There are so many concerns that we hear about that can be thoughtfully addressed in a code update,” Dexter said.
It must be easy to use, meet the expectations of the needs of the community and “bring us into the 21st century,” she said.
Rodahl said his main problem, other than homelessness, would be accessing addiction treatment and mental health services.
Rodahl said the city needed more places like assisted living facilities.
For French, “the word accessibility is the word that keeps coming up in my mind,” he said.
“It is about housing, but also public services, wages, property taxes. If we can have more density in the city, we can better distribute this burden on everyone, so that we can have more improvements. “
French said there are only 44 supportive housing beds and there are at least over 100 people who would qualify.
Responses to the League Candidate Questionnaire are posted on vote411.org. As of Monday, several candidates for the Port Angeles city council had not responded to the questionnaire.
Those who have no answers are Madden, Rodahl, Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin and Jason Thompson.
Madden disputed some of the questions.
“A lot of the questions led to something I just didn’t agree with,” Madden said.
“One was how do you propose to provide housing for every resident of Port Angeles, and I was like, wait, where in the charter does it say I have to provide housing for every person in Port Angeles? ”
He said the dynamics surrounding homelessness cannot be easily characterized.
“It’s not a simple thing,” he said.
A recording of the forum is available at https://lwvcla.clubexpress.com.
The Clallam County Elections Office has produced a voter guide available at clallam.net/Auditor/Elections.html.
Senior Editor Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].