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Many Races Not Contested, Candidate Field Set For Fall Elections

Deadline for county's filing period ends, not many candidates turn out

When the dust settled from the deadline of the county's filing period for political offices, it turned out that there weren't all that many candidates.

Instead of heavyweight battles to see, for example, who would emerge as sheriff of Klickitat County, or who would serve as Bingen's mayor for the next four years, most candidates who signed up found out they would be running unopposed.

Further, in many races, no one stepped up to fill the open positions.

There are two open county-wide offices that will be decided this fall: Klickitat County Sheriff and Klickitat County Assessor. In the sheriff's race, incumbent Republican Chris Mace is facing no opposition. Mace was appointed in May of this year to fill in for the former sheriff, Bob Kindler, who resigned earlier this year.

Since he has no opponent, Mace will serve the final year of Kindler's unexpired term.

Mace said the lack of an opponent is an unexpected luxury.

"It really takes a lot of pressure off," Mace said after the names of those who had filed were released. "We'll still campaign, because we want people to know what we're doing and we want them to be on board with it. But we're all pretty happy."

In November 2002, the Sheriff's Office slot will again appear on the ballot, with a full four-year term at stake.

In the Klickitat County Assessor's race, two Republican candidates filed. H.J. "Van" Vandenberg was appointed to fill the position as a Democrat in October 2000, but he decided to switch to the GOP on July 17, just before he filed to run for election to the office.

"I re-evaluated my position and the way I compare with both parties, and I'm more comfortable with the Republican Party," Vandenberg explained.

Vandenberg will face Ronee Bothamley, a Republican, in the Sept. 18 party primary election. Bothamley works in the Assessor's Office as an appraiser.

The winner of the primary vote in the assessor's race will be unopposed on the general election ballot.

In city races, Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel will not face an opponent as he goes for re-election to a second four-year term.

"I'd like to think the lack of an opponent means people are happy with the job I'm doing," Prigel said. "But I'll still campaign and attend the candidates' nights forum."

The Bingen City Council will also remain largely the same. Two incumbents -- Randy Anderson and Terry Trantow -- filed to run and neither will have an opponent. Current council member Dave Spratt decided not to run for another term, and Laura Mann signed up for that position. Mann will be unopposed.

In White Salmon, all five City Council seats are open this fall. Four of the five incumbents filed to continue serving on the council, and none of them will face opponents in the fall.

The four incumbents include Susan Benedict, Francis Gaddis, Tim Stone, and Penny White Morris.

One council member, Rolando Mendez, decided not to run again. No one filed to run for that position, and it remains unclear how or when that seat will be filled. Mendez will continue to serve at least until November.

There will be a contested race for the Port of Klickitat's Board of Commissioners. Incumbent Marc Harvey filed to run for a six-year term, and he will face Rodger Ford.

In Hospital District No. 1 (Skyline Hospital), four board positions are open. Janet Holen, Thomas Massart, and Bruce Coorpender will run unopposed for their positions, with no one filing in the other contest.

For all open positions in which there were no candidate filings, the Klickitat County Auditor's Office will hold a special filing period, Aug. 1-3, to accept names. If there are still no candidates, the open slots will be filed via appointment in the respective jurisdictions.

In addition to these races, there are many fire district, school district, cemetery district, conservation district, and recreation district positions that will be on the ballot in the respective communities.

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