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Primary Is Sept. 19

GOP incumbents in primary battle; Dems to fight over commission pick

There will be more competition than usual in some of the countywide political offices this fall, and in the Republican Party in particular.

In a break from the norm over recent years, incumbents in two high-profile positions currently held by Republicans will face challengers from within their own party.

In the Democratic Party, meanwhile, there will be a primary battle between two candidates for the open Klickitat County Commissioner position.

"We haven't seen anything so hotly contested in a primary for quite some time," said Klickitat County Auditor Diana Pafford. "People are looking at county government and starting to become involved again."

On the Republican side, Klickitat County Prosecuting Attorney Tim O'Neill, who was first elected in 2002, is seeking a second four-year term in the office. The White Salmon resident will be opposed in the Republican primary by Julie A. Vance, a Goldendale resident who has served as the city of Goldendale's prosecuting attorney since 1998.

Making this race even more important is the fact that no Democratic Party candidate filed to run for prosecuting attorney, meaning that the Sept. 19 primary vote will essentially be a "winner take all" situation. The victor in the primary will have no opponent on the ballot in November's general election.

Republican incumbent Klickitat County Sheriff Chris Mace also will have an opponent in the primary, as Richard D. McComas is seeking the Republican nomination to run as sheriff. McComas, who lives in Goldendale, most recently served as acting police chief with the Goldendale Police Department and, previously, served for 15 years in various positions in the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office.

Mace, a White Salmon resident and former police chief of the Bingen Police Department, has served as sheriff since 2001 and is seeking a fresh four-year term.

As is the case with the prosecuting attorney's election, no Democratic Party candidate filed for the sheriff's office, so this primary also will be "winner take all."

In an intriguing matchup in the Democratic Party primary, Marc Harvey of Lyle is campaigning to be the Democratic nominee for Klickitat County Commissioner in District No. 2. Harvey, who served a six-year term on the Port of Klickitat Board of Commissioners (1996-2002), will go against White Salmon (Snowden) resident Chris Connolly, who served for 18 years as chair of the Snowden Community Council.

Connolly was the party's unsuccessful 2002 nominee for the same County Commission seat; she was defeated by the incumbent, Republican Joan Frey, in the general election, and now is back for another try.

Frey is not seeking another four-year term this year.

The Republican candidate for County Commissioner in District No. 2, David Sauter, faces no opposition in the Republican primary and will go head to head with either Harvey or Connolly in November's general election.

Because these are party primaries, voters will need to mark a box on their ballot stating whether they are voting for Republican Party or Democratic Party candidates. Voters must then vote only for candidates in that specified party. No one will be allowed to vote for a Democrat in the County Commission race, for example, and then choose a Republican candidate for sheriff or prosecuting attorney in the other races during the primary.

The primary elections in Washington take place on Sept. 19, among the latest primaries in the country. Only Hawaii's primary (Sept. 23) comes later in the year.

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