Klickitat County will have a solid field of candidates running for the various offices on the primary and general ballots this year. Although there will be a few races in which candidates will be unopposed, overall, voters should have a lot to choose from.
Naturally, the Klickitat County races are always a focal point of the two-year election cycle. This year, all of the county's key elected officials will be on the ballot, and voters have the opportunity to decide who will serve as Sheriff, Treasurer, Assessor, Auditor, Prosecuting Attorney, and Clerk. One of the three seats (District No. 2) on the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners is open as well.
Oddly, the hottest race in the county may be for the right to serve as East District Court Judge. There, three candidates very familiar to county residents -- Tim O'Neill, Gwendolyn Grundei, and Rick Hansen -- will be on the primary ballot for this non-partisan position. This race is a rematch of sorts, as O'Neill and Grundei ran against each other in 2002 for the right to serve as the county's Prosecuting Attorney. O'Neill won that contest.
Other hot races are in the Auditor, Assessor, and Prosecuting Attorney positions. In the latter two of those contests, three candidates are vying for the same job, with two competing in the other.
On the other side of the coin, the county's Treasurer, Sheriff, and Clerk will not face an opponent -- unless there is a write-in campaign -- and incumbent Klickitat County Commissioner David Sauter will also be unopposed.
Klickitat County tends to be a Republican-leaning county, and that is evident in the overall lineup. In the county-wide races, there are a total of 10 Republican candidates running, and only two Democratic candidates. And in one of the county races -- Prosecuting Attorney -- the contest is between three Republicans. Yet no one can take anything for granted in a year in which there have been so many surprises.
There will also be contested races to determine who will serve over the next two years as our State Representatives in Washington's 15th Legislative District, which includes all of Klickitat County and parts of Skamania County, Clark County, and Yakima County. Incumbent David Taylor, a Republican from Moxee, is getting a challenge from Thomas T. Silva, a Democratic candidate from Wapato; while incumbent Republican State Rep. Bruce Chandler of Granger will face Paul Spencer, a Democrat from Stevenson. Having campaigns in which different ideas are debated is good for the district, so we're happy to see the competition.
We have a lot of respect for those willing to put themselves on the line and face the voters as they seek to serve in government. It's healthy for our democracy when candidates are willing to step up and be heard.