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Local candidates share views at chamber forum

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Mason County and statewide candidates shared their views on the issues at a forum Tuesday night at Olympic Middle School in Shelton.

About 75 people attended the forum, which was hosted by the Shelton-Mason County Chamber of Commerce.


J. Michael Read is challenging incumbent Karl Denison to serve District 1 on the Mason County PUD 1 Commission.

Read, who moved with wife Diana to Union in 2009, said he would bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to the position. He said he's managed public utilities for 40 years.

Read said he favors partnerships with other agencies, such as PUD's partnership with Hood Canal Communications.

"This is a well-run utility," Read said. Nevertheless, "I bring fresh ideas," he said.

Denison, a Mason County resident since 1987, said the commission has improved infrastructure and kept rates low while he has served for two terms. The crews work hard, and the agency has good public relations through social media and a newsletter, he said.

"I have the experience, knowledge and leadership skills to put in another six years," he said.

Mike Sheetz, who did not attend the event, is also running for the position.


Incumbent Randy Neatherlin, who lists no party affiliation, faces Independent Kelley Mcintosh.

Neatherlin said being a commissioner is not a part-time position.

"This is a 60-, 80-hour-a-week job," he said.

Neatherlin said his greatest moments as a commissioner come when he can help fix a problem for a constituent.

Mcintosh is a probation officer with the Thurston County Superior Court's Pretrial Services Program. She stressed the importance of the roles of the county commissioners.

"It's about leadership.... Transparency, openness, honesty, that we need that govern us day to day," she said.

Mcintosh stressed her experience for the past 15 years on the North Mason Regional Fire Authority Commission.


Roslynne Reed (Democrat), Kevin Shutty (Republican) and Steve Bloomfield (Independent) are seeking the seat being vacated by longtime Commissioner Tim Sheldon.

Bloomfield, a lifelong Mason County resident who works in the shellfish industry, served for one year on the commission on an interim basis after Commissioner Jerry Lingle died in 2011.

"We have now been floundering in direction for some years, 10, maybe 15 years, with no clear direction in mind," he said.

More residents need to attend commission meetings and let their voices he heard, Bloomfield said.

Reed stressed her diverse experience, which includes managing federal programs and co-owning a bar with her husband, David. She also serves on the Hood Canal School Board.

"District 2 is not adequately being represented," she said.

People visit Mason County for its recreational opportunities but don't stay because there are no jobs, Reed said.

"I've been back 20 years, and it's not growing as fast as I think it should be growing," she said.

Shutty said he will strive to balance environmental concerns with responsible growth to expand opportunities in the county.

"We have to make sure we're not left behind in the economic recovery," he said.


Incumbent state Rep. Dan Griffey (R-Allyn) faces Irene Bowling, who lists herself as an independent Democrat on the ballot.

Heidi McCutcheon, the executive director of the Shelton-Mason County Chamber of Commerce, announced that Bowling was not attending the forum because her husband, Bill, had suffered a heart attack. The other three state representatives offered their condolences.

Griffey, who is serving his first term, is a firefighter and a lifetime Mason County resident. He reiterated his opposition to the Growth Management Act.

"I believe there are a lot of state regulations that hold our county back," he said.

Griffey said he will continue to pursue legislation to help isolated seniors who are being abused, many by relatives. He is also seeking to end the statute of limitations on charging offenders with sex crimes.


Craig Patti, who lists himself as an independent Democrat, is challenging incumbent Rep. Drew MacEwen (R-Union).

MacEwen currently serves on five committees: general government and information technology, appropriations, the joint committee on veterans' and military affairs, the capitol campus design advisory committee and the joint task force on economic resilience of maritime and manufacturing in Washington.

"I stand on my track record, a very nonpartisan track record," he said.

MacEwen proposes an "overhaul" of the public education system, and the elimination of many of the state tests for students.

Patti is a firefighter and a former member of the North Mason School Board. He pointed out that he is a lifelong resident of the 35th District — he grew up in the Black Hills area, served as a firefighter in Bremerton and then moved to Allyn.

Education funding is the greatest challenge facing the Legislature, Patti said.

"Education is not a Democrat problem or a Republican problem, but a state problem," he said.

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: July 21, 2016

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