It's just early March, but already the political winds are beginning to blow around Bingen and White Salmon.
This year, in an electoral rarity, the election season will feature races for all five of Bingen's City Council seats. Who will serve as the next mayor of Bingen will also be determined.
The incumbent mayor, Brian Prigel, is at the end of his second four-year term. He said he has not yet decided whether he will run for a third term.
"I enjoy doing the work, but the time commitment is getting to me," said Prigel, who owns Prigel Machine & Fabrication in Odell, Ore. "I'll wait and see at filing time. It may be a last-minute decision."
The five seats on the Bingen City Council are currently held by Betty Barnes, Laura Mann, Randy Anderson, Terry Trantow, and Barbara Kubitscheck.
Kubitscheck, who was appointed to her council seat in February after the recent resignation of Jeanette Fentie, will almost immediately have to defend her seat.
"It's kind of an odd twist of circumstance," Prigel noted. "All the seats are open, including mine."
Despite the potential for a major change in the composition of the Bingen City Council, Prigel said he did not anticipate much of a shift.
"It has been rare when more than a single position is contested," Prigel explained. "I'd bet of the five positions, we'll be lucky if we have a total of seven people run."
Council candidates will compete for new four-year terms, except for the positions held by Barnes and Kubitscheck, where the election will be to fill the last two years of the previous council member's unexpired term.
Barnes said she wants to continue serving on the council.
"I'm going to go ahead and put my name in again," Barnes said.
She added that she hopes the other council members also decide to stay on.
"I've enjoyed working with all the councilors, and I hope to see them all run again. We have a pretty good balance on the council," Barnes said.
In White Salmon, meanwhile, three of the city's five council seats will be on the ballot this fall. The seats that will be contested are currently held by Susan Benedict, Susan Gookin, and Penny White Morris. All of the candidates in those positions will be competing for four-terms.
In other local political positions being decided this year, two positions on the Port of Klickitat Board of Commissioners will be open. The seats are currently held by incumbent commissioners Norm Deo and Wayne Vinyard.
As of now, the filing period for those seeking political office in these races will run from July 25-29, and the primary election is set for Sept. 20.
However, the Washington Legislature is seriously considering moving the date of the state's primary into the third week of August. If that occurs, the filing period would be moved forward correspondingly, perhaps into June.
"It's still up in the air," explained Dawn Weaver, elections administrator at the Auditor's Office. "If the primary is changed, the filing dates would be moved up. It's up to the Legislature."