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Election lineup set for fall; few surprises among names

Five incumbents face opposition in upcoming votes

Campaign 2002 is unofficially under way now that the candidates have filed for open political offices on this year's ballot.

The deadline to file for political races within Klickitat County passed at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 26, and there were no big surprises in the list of names.

All the incumbents signed up to run for another term, and -- as has been the trend in recent elections -- several candidates will not face any opposition.

The race with perhaps the highest profile is the contest for the open seat on the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners in District 2. Longtime incumbent County Commissioner Joan Frey is being challenged by Chris Connolly, president of the Snowden Community Council.

Connolly is running as a Democrat.

Frey, a Republican who was first elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 1990, is seeking an unprecedented fourth four-year term. According to county election records, the last time a County Commissioner served even three consecutive four-year terms was Glen "Buzz" Claussen, a Democrat who was elected in 1976 and served until January 1989. As far back as 1976, there are no records of any political candidate winning four consecutive terms on the Board of County Commissioners in Klickitat County.

Neither Connolly nor Frey will face opposition in their respective party's primary elections.

As has been the pattern in recent election years, however, several candidates will apparently be unopposed in November.

Incumbent Sheriff Chris Mace is going for a full four-year term this year, and he will not be facing an opponent. Mace was elected last year to fill out the final year of the previous sheriff's unexpired term.

Larry Gourley has filed to run for the Auditor's Office. Gourley, who filed as a Republican, will face one-term incumbent Diana Housden, a Democrat.

Gourley currently serves as Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners.

Incumbent County Treasurer Dani Burton, a Democrat, has filed for a second four-year term as treasurer. She will run unopposed in November.

In the contest for the county's Assessor's Office, Harold "Van" Vandenberg, the Republican incumbent, will seek a full four-year term. Vandenberg is being challenged by Steven A. Johnston of Goldendale. Johnston, a member of the Goldendale City Council, will run as a Democrat.

Klickitat County Prosecuting Attorney Tim O'Neill, Republican, is seeking a four-year term. He is being challenged by Democrat Gwendolyn Grundei, an attorney at law and a member of the Goldendale City Council.

Saundra J. Olson, Republican, is unopposed in her bid for the county clerk's office.

Daniel Gunkel, a commissioner on the Public Utility District, will face James E. Riley of Goldendale in the fall campaign. Riley is owner of Jim Riley Excavating, and a member of the Economic Development Authority Board. The race is non-partisan.

Two incumbent District Court judges have filed to run for fresh four-year terms this year. Brian Altman signed on in the East District, with Robert Weisfield seeking re-election in the West District. Neither judge will face an opponent in this year's elections.


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