QUILCENE — A third candidate has announced his interest in running for the District 3 seat on the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, setting up a primary electoral contest.
Jefferson County Republican Party state committee member Jon Cooke registered with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) on Friday for the position held by Democrat Greg Brotherton.
Republican Marcia Kelbon, a chemical engineer and lawyer who retired from biopharmaceutical company Omeros Medical Systems 2½ years ago, announced earlier that she was also in the running.
The filing week for this year’s election is May 16-20.
If more than two candidates run for an office, the primary election will be held on August 2. The first two primaries will limit the race to the two candidates who received the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, and these will contest in the general election on November 8. The last day for candidates to withdraw their names from the ballot is May 23.
This is the second time Cooke, 63, has run against Brotherton. The two faced off in November 2018 after surviving a primary race with four suitors. At the final count, Brotherton won 68.1% of the vote to Cooke’s 31.9%.
Cooke, who has lived just outside Quilcene for 13 years, said as commissioner he would focus on the needs of South County.
“I feel like I can represent South County well,” he said Monday. “I would take care of the needs of hard-working residents in South County” who need jobs, while retired residents need to be able to live on fixed incomes.
“I would control the growth of county government,” Cooke said.
“We have to be wise…so that we don’t raise people’s taxes to give money to projects that don’t help South County.”
He feels Port Townsend has been overrepresented on the county commission.
“Port Townsend should stay Port Townsend, but South County is different.”
Cooke, a former county GOP chairman, also wants to offer a different perspective than he believes the all-Democrat county commission is now providing.
“I think having a different perspective increases the amount of perspective on an issue,” he said. “Right now we have three with the same kind of focus. I will have a different focus and bring more ideas.
Jefferson County Warden Cooke said he would quit his job if elected to the county commission.
Of fellow Republican Kelbon, who also put his hat in the ring for the job, “She’s running her campaign and I’ll run mine.”
Cooke attributes the housing shortage to government regulations, which have “hindered basic building projects”, he said.
“It’s just a matter of supply and demand,” he said. “The supply is down. The demand is on the rise. We need housing built so that the supply is stabilized.
Cooke advocates streamlining permits.
“My proposal would be to take a project once a month and see what the hiccups are,” he said, urging a watchful eye while respecting the knowledge of professionals to check “if all the requirements are really necessary. “.
Cooke said he wants to provide homeless people with a way out of their struggles, whether it’s help with addictions, care for mental health issues or employment.
“Just providing for them doesn’t give them a way out,” Cooke said. “People need a way out.”
This would vary from person to person, he said, and could include “offering them ways to get back on their feet, helping them find a job or living in a safe environment.
One of Cooke’s main issues is “keeping our community safe,” he said.
State laws “have hampered our sheriff’s office, but we still need to support our law enforcement,” he added.
Cooke said he felt he could “do a great job balancing financial responsibility and the needs of our businesses.
“Our businesses have taken a hit lately and we need to get them running again without warrants so they don’t have to turn away customers.”
Dr. Allison Berry, the health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties, had ordered in September, when the number of COVID-19 cases was high, that bars and restaurants must require proof of vaccination against the virus of those who wanted to eat and drink inside.
She agreed in a settlement with six restaurants that if the number of cases drops enough, the mandate would be lifted by March 11 – and has since said both counties are on track to take effect Friday.
King County had also required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, not only for bars and restaurants, but also for indoor events and recreational facilities or outdoor events. This was lifted on March 1.
“It seemed really odd that three of the 39 counties (in the state) were the only ones that did it,” Cooke said.
“Why would it be so important if none of the other counties were doing it?”
Cooke said he opposed the mandate for proof of vaccination because “it did not take into account natural immunity”.
Her take is that “it got really political…that it was about power, that she wanted that control, it seemed to me.”
Cooke said as a goaltender he is blue collar. He worked as a teacher and coached wrestling for over 30 years in Kitsap County.
He was elected to the Quilcene School Board in November and served for three months and served on the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for four years.
Additionally, he is involved with the Quilcene Lions Club and he and his wife, Sherry, are active in the Calvary Community Church.
“All of these things connect me to the community,” Cooke said.
Kelbon, 62, a resident of Quilcene, said she wanted to address the shortage of affordable housing and the need for limited economic development and lower taxes. She also said she opposes any advancement of a “Seattle-style socialist agenda” and, if elected, would address the root causes of homelessness in Jefferson County.
Brotherton, 50, a Quilcene resident who applied to the PDC in December, said he was proud of his achievements since being elected in 2018.
He and other county commissioners worked to resolve issues stemming from the homeless encampment at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Last year county commissioners established a new camp near Mill Road, spending some $600,000 to buy the land.
Managing Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or [email protected].
Senior Jefferson County reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz contributed to this story.