Samuel Wonacott

Samuel Wonacott is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at

A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, October 19-23, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened October 19-23, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, October 19, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Barron County Circuit Court Judge James Babler allowed Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) Oct. 6 order limiting public gatherings in bars and restaurants to go into effect, overturning a court ruling last week that blocked enforcement of the order while the case was being litigated. The Tavern League of Wisconsin, which filed the lawsuit along with two bars, said it would not appeal the decision.
  3. Election changes:
  4. The North Carolina State Board of Elections directed counties to accept absentee/mail-in ballots received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12 and postmarked on or before Election Day. The state board of elections also issued new guidance on how voters could resolve problems with their absentee/mail-in ballots.
  5. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order extending the receipt deadline for mail-in ballots to Nov. 6 for ballots postmarked on or before Election Day.
  6. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously upheld a district court decision that temporarily suspended a Tennessee law requiring first-time voters to vote in person.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan released a draft of the state’s plan for distributing a coronavirus vaccine once one became available.
  3. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced he would be extending an executive order allowing local governments to impose mask requirements through the end of the year.
  4. Election changes:
  5. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit declined to block the extension of North Carolina’s absentee/mail-in ballot return and receipt deadlines. As a result, ballots would be accepted if they were postmarked on or before Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an executive order implementing targeted mitigation measures in nine counties with high rates of coronavirus infection. The order limited gatherings in those counties to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. It also required masks in all indoor public places where social distancing was not possible. Hospitals statewide were also required to maintain at least 10% of their total capacity for coronavirus patients. Facilities that could not maintain that capacity were required to pause elective procedures.
  3. Election changes:
  4. The Iowa Supreme Court upheld an Iowa law barring county election officials from sending absentee/mail-in ballots to voters who omitted information on their ballot application forms.
  5. The U.S. Supreme Court, on a 5-3 vote, reinstated Alabama’s prohibition against curbside voting.
  6. Federal government responses:
  7. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance changing the definition of close contact for an individual infected with coronavirus. Under previous guidelines, a close contact was defined as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. The new guidance defined a close contact as someone who was within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
  8. School closures and reopenings:
  9. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced some schools in New York City’s state-defined hotspots were allowed to reopen. He also said the state would consider loosening restrictions in hotspot zones and drawing the zones on a block-by-block basis instead of using zip codes.
  10. Mask requirements:
  11. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced an extension of the state’s mask mandate for “the foreseeable future.”

Thursday, October 22, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered nursing homes and assisted living facilities to allow children to visit residents indoors. His order also allowed outdoor visits regardless of a facility’s case count, as long as visitors and residents practiced social distancing and wore masks. DeSantis said residents would also be allowed to leave facilities for overnight visits with family.
  3. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) amended the state’s coronavirus emergency order. The new order required restaurants to complete the state’s Safe Certification training program no later than Oct. 30 if they wish to continue offering indoor dining at 25% capacity beyond that date. Restaurants that did not complete the certification were still able to offer outdoor service at 75% capacity. The order also required retail establishments to close by 10 p.m. every night and shut down state museums and historical sites.
  4. Election changes:
  5. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit blocked a district court order that would have allowed Missouri voters to return their mail-in ballots in person. As a result, the law requiring voters to return their mail-in ballots by mail was upheld.

Friday, October 23, 2020

  1. Election changes:
  2. Texas’ Third Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s Oct. 14 ruling that suspended Governor Greg Abbott’s (R) order restricting the number of absentee/mail-in ballot return locations to one per county.
  3. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled election officials could not reject a mail-in ballot because the signature on the ballot return documents did not appear to match the voter’s signature on file.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.

Meet the 2021 Forks mayoral candidates

The city of Forks, in Clallam County, Wash., is holding municipal elections on Nov. 2, 2021. The mayor’s office is one of those seats up for election. The mayor serves a four-year term alongside five city council members.

Candidates submitted statements to the Washington Secretary of State when they filed a Declaration of Candidacy for use in the Voter’s Pamphlet. Responses are republished here. They have not been altered in any way.

Forks Mayor

Tim Fletcher (incumbent): “I am a WestEnd original. My family’s homestead still stands in the Hoh River Valley and I am also a tribal elder, which helps to find a clearer path to make our community more inclusive.

I will continue to work with new and established businesses to keep our city business friendly and find ways to bring back and keep timber related jobs.

I will continue to encourage the building of housing for workers that need short/long term places to live. This could be new homes for families of all sizes or working couples just starting out that need a basic starter home.

And with the community’s continued support, I will work for the future of Forks when it comes to making decisions about our community’s infrastructure as we plan for the growth of Forks.”

To read Fletcher’s full statement, click here.

Steve Wright: “I’m a 35 year old disabled Native American veteran. I served in the US Army and US Air Force, I graduated from Evergreen State College with a degree in agrobiology and grant writing. I am a nature conservationist and agrobiologist; you can usually find me in the forest foraging for mushrooms, fishing, or farming with my children. I studied agrobiology extensively. I practice sustainable agriculture and offer assistance to anyone wanting to farm sustainably.

I am a medical patient. I use cannabis to alleviate my pain from service-connected injuries, and nausea from PTSD. I believe in protecting patients and legalizing psilocybin mushrooms for mental health treatments.

I believe political parties facilitate the consolidation of power and aide in shielding their members from criticism. I believe there is no fixing the two-party dominant system, and joining a political party would contribute to the problem. I believe candidates should stand on their own in publicly funded elections.

I believe we deserve healthcare without restriction and debt, college without debt, an infrastructure that is sustainable and ecologically safe, equitable justice, and an economy that works for everyone.”

To read Wright’s full statement, click here.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities. Click here to read more about those elections.

Meet the 2021 Sequim City Council candidates

Sequim, in Clallam County, Wash., is holding municipal elections on Nov. 2, 2021. Five city council seats are up for election this year. In total, the Sequim City Council is composed of seven members who serve four-year terms.

Candidates submitted statements to the Washington Secretary of State when they filed a Declaration of Candidacy for use in the Voter’s Pamphlet. Responses are republished here. They have not been altered in any way.

Sequim City Council Position No. 2

Sarah Kincaid (incumbent): “As a Sequim resident for 21 years, I understand our community and its needs. I care deeply about the future of Sequim because my history here gives me a “citizen’s” voice from the people, for the people. As a city councilwoman I voted to support small businesses and families by using rainy day funds during COVID, and ‘no’ to utility rate increases in 2021.

I advocate cutting red tape and reducing fees, helping Sequim become more business-friendly, reaching out to bring more small- to medium size businesses offering more employment opportunities for our citizens, while maintaining our “small town” atmosphere.

I understand and promote the need for enhanced medical care and a 24/7 emergency clinic.

I am married with two grown children and 3 grandchildren.

Our lives are greatly influenced by local government. We need to pay attention to it and elect individuals who will truly represent us. I believe government should be transparent and accountable. In these challenging times, we need to spend less, not more, to keep more money in the pockets of the people. I promise to continue to do just that, and I ask for your vote.”

To read Kincaid’s full statement, click here.

Kathy Downer: “As a councilwoman I served as the liaison to the Traffic, Alternative Transportation, Storm Water, and Brick Streets. I was a member of Main Street. ( for downtown businesses).

My husband retired as a small businessman, and we traveled across the country to live in beautiful Sequim. Three out of four of our adult children settled here with us and appreciate all of the outdoor activities Sequim has to offer.

I was in the Sequim City wide Christmas Choir in 2019, and I volunteer at Trinity United Methodist Church.

Local politics matter. We need a council made up of people dedicated to transparency, and accessibility. They need to  represent all of the citizens of Sequim, and not just the people who voted for them. 

I feel that my background will make me a good council member on the Sequim City Council.”

To read Downer’s full statement, click here.

Sequim City Council Position No. 3

Mike Pence (incumbent): “I’ve served on the Sequim City Council for a year-plus, and it has been very productive in restoring city government to the people of Sequim. We have made progress in addressing affordable housing and public safety. We have changed the zoning downtown to encourage multi-unit housing development. We’ve also navigated much needed improvements to Fir Street and we even enacted water and sewer rate reductions for low-income people.

My hands-on experience in government management and processes have greatly benefited the council. Priorities for my next term include: a satellite 24/7 emergency room; encouraging cost effective housing by reducing building fees so it is more feasible for development to occur; reducing regulations and fees to encourage businesses to locate in Sequim; supporting Police, Fire and EMS due to increases in homelessness and the upcoming opening of the Medically Assisted Treatment clinic.

With your support, we can continue the progress we all have worked so hard for in Sequim. It is time for Sequim to have common sense leadership combined with a professional background. I have the experience and passion to see our town thrive.

Let’s continue having Sequim be a great place to live.”

To read Pence’s full statement, click here.

Vicki L. Lowe: “I am a lifelong resident of Sequim, having worked and raised my children here. The role of the city government is to represent every city resident. I feel my perspective will add a voice not currently heard on our City Council. As a council member, I want to ensure that issues, goals, and priorities are thoughtfully understood, ensuring that decisions made consider both public interest and impact. It is also vital for the City Government to build ties to and connections with other organizations in Clallam County to serve the needs of our citizens. City Councilors need to act as innovators, role models, conduits for information exchange, and “positive disruptors.” Problem solving happens when we listen to hear each other and come to reasonable solutions.

Sequim Citizens should have a choice for who represents them. My life and work experience here in Sequim, my connection to people in the community who might not feel represented will help me bring another perspective to the table. I want to serve my community, please vote for me for Sequim City Council Position #3.”

To read Lowe’s full statement, click here.

Sequim City Council Position No. 4

Rachel Anderson (incumbent): “In my work on city council, I have seen what our challenges are, and I want to keep working on them. My main concerns are workforce housing, small business sustainability, and mental health advocacy. I also have high expectations for integrity and transparency in government. By listening to each other and exploring issues, we’ll find much to agree about, and we’ll find better solutions that work for more people.

I am honored that the council appointed me. As a young, low-income parent, I bring a unique perspective to the council. My work as a volunteer and on boards of non-profits, like OlyCAP, has prepared me for this service, and I am digging in. I am passionate about this work and I’ve shown my dedication to service. Growing up in Sequim, I had challenges at home and the schools and community gave me the support I needed. Now, I’m ready to give back to the community that has given me so much.

I am asking for your vote so that I can keep serving you. It’s time for us to come together to make Sequim better. For more information, visit”

To read Anderson’s full statement, click here.

Daryl Ness: “My wife and I love Sequim, especially the people. Since my retirement, I am hoping to put my business experience to good use. My experience in managing large budgets with multiple work groups has provided me an edge in large project success. I enjoy building teams to accomplish the goals we set and have experience in measuring progress to affirm direction.

I worked for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad as a conductor/switchman/yardmaster for 13 years. Later, I was in management for 24 years. I started as a management first line supervisor with BNSF. After working 12 different management positions, I retired as General Manager of the Northwest Division in Seattle, which manages Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of Canada. After retiring from BNSF Railroad, I was Chief Operating Officer for Peninsula Terminal Railroad in Portland for four years, retiring in 2019.

I have a great deal to contribute to the City of Sequim and the surrounding area. I am ready to serve Sequim’s citizens in elective office.

I love sports. I am a member of the Sequim Picklers (pickleball), belong to Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course and also play senior softball.”

To read Ness’ full statement, click here.

Sequim City Council Position No. 5

Brandon Janisse (incumbent): “For over 20 years I have been a Sequim citizen, with a few of those years, serving in the United States Army. For the past 4 years I have been fighting on behalf of Sequim’s families, as a Councilman. I am proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved together; however, there is still work to be done. I am running for re-election to continue my fight in delivering good paying jobs, affordable housing and transparent government. Currently the city council is majority appointed and experience matters. I am a husband, father and a devoted servant to my constituents. I put in 20-30 hours a week as a city councilor and my door is always open. I have testified before the state legislator and work hard on behalf of Sequim citizens each day. I achieved my Advanced Certificate of Municipal Leadership from ACW and will continue to seek out learning and growth opportunities. I currently or have served on the Planning Commission, Clallam Transit Board, the Finance Committee and the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. Service to my community is my passion. I am proud of my record while serving you and would be honored to earn your vote.”

To read Janisse’s full statement, click here.

Patrick Day: “Experience matters. I joined the military right out of high school, eventually becoming an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Expert serving in the Gulf War. Following a hiatus working for the Brinks Armored Car service, I returned to public service as a Peace Officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation serving 27 years. I became active in the California Correctional Peace Officer Association, our state and local union. I am currently an elected trustee for the CCPOA Health and Welfare Benefit Trust.

I have acquired many skills in problem-solving, crisis management, and conflict resolution from my years of public service and union activities. Together, they have given me great wisdom and experience in dealing with people issues and finding resolution to those issues. I wish to employ those skills by continuing my life of service to the people of Sequim.

I believe our police, fire and all city workers should be fully supported. All city business must be conducted in an efficient and transparent manner. I will work hard to help grow Sequim in a manner that ensures this beautiful city is free and safe from big city problems so this city stays beautiful for all citizens and guests.”

To read Day’s full statement, click here.

Sequim City Council Position No. 6

Keith A. Larkin: “My previous experience of public service in wildfire fighting and prevention, have prepared me well to serve the people of Sequim by seeking solutions that represent their will in all matters that come before the Council. I have held critical leadership positions with substantial budgetary authority, including Chief Administrator of a 110-man inmate Conservation Camp with a $10M budget; and Fire Chief, Fresno County with a $30M budget. My final posting as Senior Executive – Deputy Chief Northern Region which spanned 22 counties and 12 executive managers required collaboration with state and local agencies from diverse disciplines and interests including Emergency Management, Public Safety, Tribal Leadership, Community Groups, Military, Transportation, Utilities and Support Services. I seek open and diverse communications to reach effective decisions that reflect the will of the citizens. I vow to proactively collaborate with my fellow councilors, seek information from the community, be well educated on the issues and to serve with the highest level of integrity.

My priorities in office are: public safety first; encourage manageable growth including affordable housing, good stewardship of the taxpayer’s dollars, cultivate small businesses, enhance the development of our youth, maintain our small-town appeal, and promote tourism to our City.”

To read Larkin’s full statement, click here.

Lowell Rathbun: “I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for 25 years, 4 of them in Sequim. I was originally drawn to learn more about the Sequim city government during the controversy over the tribal Healing Clinic. I discovered that a city was happening here, and I wanted to help.

I believe it is important to help restore trust between Sequim’s citizens and their elected officials. Lately the city has lost its exceptionally qualified city manager under circumstances that remain unexplained. As result, there has been a loss of trust between the public and our city council. Being open about my intentions, listening to you, the voter, and responding honestly will be a good beginning in restoring trust on our council. It is crucial that we maintain a firewall between politics and the day-to-day management of Sequim.

Good government is about helping people. It is urgent for Sequim to find effective solutions to the acute problem of available and affordable workforce housing. Increasing human services, especially to our homeless population, and providing broadband service to all our citizens are examples of how Sequim can help people. Assisting the viability of small businesses, increasing local prosperity helps everyone.”

To read Rathbun’s full statement, click here.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities. Click here to read more about those elections.

Meet the 2021 Forks City Council candidates

Forks, in Clallam County, Wash., is holding municipal elections on Nov. 2, 2021. Two city council seats are up for election this year. In total, the Sequim City Council is composed of five members and a mayor who serve four-year terms.

Candidates submitted statements to the Washington Secretary of State when they filed a Declaration of Candidacy for use in the Voter’s Pamphlet. Responses are republished here. They have not been altered in any way.

Forks City Council Position No. 2

Clinton W. Wood: “I grew up in this community enjoying our beautiful natural resources. After serving our country I moved back, met my wife and we started a family. I feel truly blessed for having been raised in such a close-knit community and can’t think of a better place to raise a family. I am proud to be a member of this community and would be honored to serve Forks.

My position as the Director of Facilities at Forks Community Hospital has given me many opportunities to work with the city, county, and state. I ensure that Forks Community Hospital is compliant with regulations such as building codes, life safety codes, Revised Codes of Washington State (RCW) and Washington Administrative Codes (WAC). I have also been involved with multiple Community Development Block Grants that have benefitted our community. I have conducted many environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). As the Director of Facilities, I oversee a budget of 3 million dollars. I believe with my background and experience I would be an asset as a member of the Forks City Council.

With your vote, I look forward to serving this community.”

To read Wood’s full statement, click here.

Josef Echeita: “My name is Josef Echeita and I am running for Forks City Council Position 2. I was raised in Forks and graduated from Forks High School in 2006. I moved back to Forks in in 2011 and have started to raise my own children here.

I had a great experience growing up in the city of Forks. I have made the choice to raise my kids here in Forks because I believe that this city is still the best place to raise a family. I want to work to keep Forks a place that is desirable to live. I believe this will be done through a continued positive relationship with local law enforcement and promoting programs targeting positive youth activities.

A vote for Josef Echeita for City Council is a vote for a candidate that believes in this town and knows what it is capable of. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns through Facebook (search @echeitaforcouncil or go to or via email at

To read Echeita’s full statement, click here.

Forks City Council Position No. 3

Joe Soha (incumbent) did not submit a candidate statement to the Washington Secretary of State.

Sarah Holmes: “Sarah Holmes is an Independent Progressive Conservative. She is an advocate for justice, individual freedoms, ethical governing, and unbiased politics. Sarah will strive to ensure that the residents of Forks are heard and that the decisions of their government are the collective decisions of its people.

Sarah is a mother of four, with children attending school in Forks. She’s the daughter of a family-operated business owner in Clallam County, and understands the importance of family, education, and a locally based economy. Growing up in rural towns in Washington State, she is a first-hand witness to economic disparities which are a primary cause for divide, and in so understands the need for a community-oriented government that functions well for all its citizens.

To keep Forks strong moving forward, it will be imperative to continually address topics which are relevant to the community and with respect to the future of our community, and to do so with integrity.”

To read Holmes’ full statement, click here.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities. Click here to read more about those elections.

Meet the 2021 Port Angeles City Council candidates

Port Angeles, in Clallam County, Wash., is holding municipal elections on Nov. 2, 2021. Four city council seats are up for election this year. In total, the Port Angeles City Council is composed of seven members who serve four-year terms.

Candidates submitted statements to the Washington Secretary of State when they filed a declaration of candidacy. Responses, which appear in the Washington Voter’s Pamphlet are republished here. They have not been altered in any way.

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 1

LaTrisha Suggs (incumbent): “I have lived in Port Angeles most of my life. I am from here. My mom, grandmother, great grandmother, and ancestors have lived here since time immemorial. I seek your support to continue serving this great community. I have three fabulous kids and two grandsons.

As a council member I supported expanding key programs like Rediscovery, Paramedicine, reinstated code enforcement, maintained flat utility rates, balanced budget, provided $790,000 in rental, mortgage and utility assistance to customers impacted financially by the pandemic. I supported efforts, saving the city millions by refinancing water and wastewater bonds, supported suspending interest and late fees on utility accounts, and waived parking and business improvement area fees.The next four years will require focus and stability to maintain a healthy City budget, support solutions to vexing issues and engaging leadership that strengthens our community partnerships, and work towards building new relationships. Areas of critical importance include affordable housing, homelessness, code updates, commercial district enhancement, build staffing capacity, building high-performing relationships, and working with partners to advocate for solutions that will help the childcare crisis, which was in crisis mode prior to the pandemic. The vision is to move towards solutions that work for our community.”

To read Suggs’ full statement, click here.

Adam Garcia: “Port Angeles has been my home since 1992, when I started 3rd grade at Jefferson Elementary. I grew up here, played in the parks here, I went to school here, met my wonderful wife here, and have chosen to raise my children here. The truth is that Port Angeles has changed, and not for the better. Crime, poverty, and drug use have grown out of control.

The tasks laid before the City Council and Staff are not easy, but they must be met with a balance of fiscal responsibility and compassion for every member of our city. It is going to take time to make the big changes that are required for our city to prosper, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the problems in the present. We must come together and make common sense decisions that begin to address the issues at hand. We must insure that our community is safe, we need to work on our streets and infrastructure while remaining fiscally sound.

Let’s move Port Angeles in the right direction so that our children can experience the safe and beautiful Port Angeles we all remember.”

To read Garcia’s full statement, click here.

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 2

Mike French (incumbent): “Port Angeles has been my lifelong home, and I intend to work tirelessly to make it the best it can be. My vision is to provide a safe and healthy environment for all, including a robust economy, good roads, affordable housing and utilities, and a thriving business community. I’ve been an elected representative on the City Council for four years, and we’ve made considerable progress on these and other issues. We’ve engaged the Chamber of Commerce in our Capital Facility Plan and contracted with them to develop a collaborative strategic plan for our downtown. We’ve passed citywide zoning reforms and tax incentives to encourage affordable housing development. We’ve partnered with local institutions like Peninsula Housing Authority and the Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic to move our unhoused population into secure permanent housing. We’ve reduced the burden on local law enforcement by pairing social workers with police officers, finding productive solutions to difficult situations on the street.

There is still considerable work to do; our City continues to face a variety of challenges. I am committed to facing these challenges and devoting the time and effort required to serve the citizens of Port Angeles, and I ask for your vote. Thank you.”

To read French’s full statement, click here.

John Madden: “People are frustrated with their Government. People are feeling forgotten. It is time to involve the public in their Government at a new level. I hope to invite open conversations with the Citizens of Port Angeles in a variety of settings, including a monthly meet and greet at a local coffee shop. I am passionate about addressing the day-to-day challenges that face Port Angeles small businesses struggling to make sense of the ever changing political landscape. 

2020 was a confusing time in our County. Our awareness of the issues that divide us must be met with constructive and restorative energies. Small businesses have more similarities than differences, and there needs to be a constructive thread drawn around them to strengthen the fabric of our City.

As a former President of both a local Kiwanis Club and Lions Club, I have the experience in leadership, with community service as core. 

I believe that leadership is found in service to others. 

I hope you will come to my Coffee Corral, if not City Council meetings, and help me shape our Community one issue at a time.”

To read Madden’s full statement, click here.

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 3

Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin (incumbent): “I was born and raised in Port Angeles. I love this place that we all call home.

I’m honored to serve the people of Port Angeles on City Council, where my skills and experience support the the Council’s core work: policy and planning to keep Port Angeles affordable for young people, working families, and elders, and improve everyone’s quality of life.

Over the last four years on City Council, we’ve revived the code enforcement program that previous Councils cut; supported our Police and Fire Departments’ proactive and cost saving intervention programs; removed regulatory barriers to affordable housing and childcare development; kept utility rates stable; and supported small businesses and distressed residents during the pandemic.

As a representative of the people of Port Angeles, I work toward creating a City that values government transparency, community dialogue, and collaboration; spends our tax dollars efficiently; fosters a local economy that works for everyone; and solves tough problems like substance abuse, affordable housing, and homelessness. This work requires all of us working together to make Port Angeles a safe place for everyone to live, work, and play.

I’d be honored to receive your vote to continue this work on your City Council. Thank you.”

To read Schromen-Wawrin’s full statement, click here.

Jena Stamper: “I am a native of Port Angeles and, having attended K- 12 schools here, I know what Port Angeles used to be and I know the untapped potential that is has. I have the vision and passion to help it return to its previous glory and beyond. A local business owner and active member of our community, I am acutely aware of the struggles and concerns that our community members are facing.

A thriving business community is essential to the long-term health of our city. Not only does the business community provide the economic foundation for our city, it supports local teams, youth programs, and many worthwhile community projects of great impact.

I want to be an advocate for our youth and invest in our parks and community events that help give our community members and youth purpose.

I want to a champion for safe streets for our citizens, support our law enforcement and help them find sustainable ways to deal with the ever-increasing homeless population, while also encouraging code and local ordinance enforcement.

I whole heartedly care about this city and want to be a true representative of the people of Port Angeles. Your vote matters.”

To read Stamper’s full statement, click here.

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 4

Kate Dexter (incumbent): “Serving on city council for these past four years has been a tremendous honor. We have accomplished a great deal as a city. There’s much yet to be achieved. I look forward to continuing this work thanks to your vote.

Under my leadership as mayor, I have worked tirelessly with my fellow council members and city staff to set appropriate and meaningful agendas, lead discussions effectively and professionally, and ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard, even during the Covid-19 pandemic and all the challenges it presented.

Notably, at the end of 2020, city council and staff succeeded in creating a balanced budget, with no increase in utility rates, and provided over $800,000 to residents and local businesses in mortgage, rent, and utility relief.

We listened to local developers and made changes to our city code to encourage market rate and affordable housing development. Thanks to strong community partnerships, we implemented and expanded the Rediscovery and Community Paramedicine programs, which are actively improving people’s lives while saving taxpayer dollars.

I’m ready to continue the progress we have made toward a more vibrant community. Thank you in advance for your vote and continued support.”

To read Dexter’s full statement, click here.

John W. Procter: “In the past eleven years that I have lived in Port Angeles, I have witnessed a decrease in police presence, deterioration of our park and recreation services, and an influx of individuals living on our streets.

Many of theses individuals are openly drunk or using drugs. They throw their heroin syringes and garbage everywhere. They use our town as their public restroom. They graffiti our buildings and destroy business fronts. This affects our community standard and tourism.

Along with this we have also noticed the sudden appearance of old motorhomes, travel trailers, and automobiles. Many are randomly abandoned. Most are not currently licensed, and many are in disrepair but are parked on our streets for long periods of time. They are often outlets for drug dealing and harbor stolen goods from our community.

Our current City Council appears to use those individuals as political pawns assisting them to continue to desecrate our community. My intention is to restore our community to a healthier standard. I would like to represent the families and businesses who prefer a cleaner and safer Port Angeles.”

To read Procter’s full statement, click here.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities. Click here to read more about those elections.

A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, Oct. 12-16, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened Oct. 12-16, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, Oct. 12, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • The Michigan Supreme Court voted 6-1 to deny Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) request to delay enforcement of its Oct. 2 decision finding her emergency powers used in response to the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional. Whitmer had asked the court to delay its decision for 28 days so her administration could negotiate new restrictions with the legislature.
    • Ohio nursing homes were allowed to resume indoor visitations. Facilities that resumed visitations were required to screen visitors and report their names to state authorities. Only two visitors were allowed at a time for a maximum of 30 minutes.
  • Election changes:
    • A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously upheld a directive by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) restricting the number of absentee/mail-in ballot return locations to one per county.
    • The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s order suspending the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots.

Tuesday, Oct, 13, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Maine entered Stage 4 of reopening. Stage 4 allowed indoor activities and businesses like restaurants, movie theaters, and religious gatherings to expand operations to 50% capacity or up to 100 people (whichever was less). The order also required masks in municipal buildings and private schools and expanded enforcement of the face-covering mandate.
    • New Hampshire Superior Court Judge David Anderson ruled Gov. Chris Sununu (R) was not required to obtain the legislature’s approval to spend federal dollars in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Democratic legislative leaders filed the lawsuit, alleging that Gov. Sununu did not have the authority to unilaterally spend CARES Act funds.
  • Election changes:
    • A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit stayed a lower court’s order that had extended Indiana’s return deadlines for absentee/mail-in ballots. As a result, the original receipt deadline (noon on Nov. 3) was reinstated.
    • A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court’s order that had extended Arizona’s voter registration deadline. The court set Oct. 15 as the new registration deadline.
    • A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed a district court order suspending Alabama’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in voters with underlying medical conditions. The panel also reversed the lower court’s order waiving photo identification requirements for voters 65 and older.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency order granting the U.S. Department of Commerce’s request to pause a lower court decision that required the 2020 census population count to continue through Oct. 31 while the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit looked at the case. The order was unsigned, with the exception of a dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Wednesday, Oct, 14, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill making permanent a provision allowing restaurants to sell to-go alcoholic beverages. The law went into effect immediately. Restaurants had been allowed to offer to-go alcoholic beverages earlier in the year on a temporary basis to help them stay afloat while the state was under a stay-at-home order.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • The Ohio Department of Health updated its travel advisory to include travelers from Indiana. The advisory asked visitors from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for two weeks. At the time, the list included South Dakota, Idaho, Wisconsin, Iowa, Wyoming, Kansas, Nevada, and Indiana, all states with spiking coronavirus cases. 
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge John A. Gibney ordered that Virginia’s voter registration deadline be extended from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15.
    • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina Judge William Osteen ordered election officials to enforce the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots. Osteen allowed other ballot curing provisions, and the absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadline (Nov. 12 for ballots postmarked on or before Election Day), to stand.

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 

  • Travel restrictions:
    • Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program went into effect, allowing visitors to avoid the 14-day quarantine if they could present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Travelers who tested positive or whose results were pending were still required to quarantine.
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies:
    • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions to expire.

Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added additional restrictions to the state’s public health order. Bars and restaurants that served alcohol were required to close by 10 p.m. every evening, and gatherings were limited to a maximum of five individuals.Travelers from states with COVID-19 positivity rates exceeding 5% could no longer present a recent negative coronavirus test to avoid the state’s 14-day self-quarantine requirement. Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel extended the state’s stay-at-home order through Nov. 13.
    • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) moved 16 counties into the “high risk” category due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Bars, restaurants, and large venues in “high risk” areas were advised to cap capacity at 25% or 50 people in total.
  • Election changes:
    • A three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a lower court order that had extended Michigan’s receipt deadline for absentee/mail-in ballots. The appellate panel reinstated the original receipt deadline: 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.

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Port Angeles City Council candidates discuss coronavirus pandemic, housing, and the future of the city

On Sept. 21, Port Angeles City Council Position #2 incumbent Mike French and challenger John Madden participated in an online candidate forum. The Port Angeles Business Association hosted the event.

French, who was elected to the city council in 2017, is the owner and operator of the First Street Haven Restaurant. Madden owns Ready Remodeling.

Over the span of an hour, the candidates discussed topics that included, among other things, the coronavirus pandemic, housing, the city budget, and the future of the city. What follows is a selection of the candidates’ responses.

Pandemic restrictions

Moderator: “Would each of you please articulate your thoughts on the current requirements in place [referring to a Clallam County and Jefferson County proof-of-vaccination requirement enacted by the North Olympic Peninsula health officer on Sept. 2]. What if anything would you change in them, and how long do you believe this pandemic would run if your particular policies were in place or you had the ability to set regulations.”

Mike French: “I support what the local health officer is doing, I think that she clearly has the authority to do this, and I think that, as a small business owner, it was definitely jarring to have that mandate come out with maybe, I think two days warning, you know, for all the policies at my restaurant. That was certainly jarring. She had signaled that this was something she was thinking about in the previous meeting. So, I certainly would have loved more notice if I had to do it over again.”

John Madden: “This is something that has to be done with support from the public and cannot be foisted on people, especially by dictatorial means. I’m very sensitive about breaches of the Constitution, and I would just like to see us return to a model that honors the integrity and individual choice of the human being. I see other countries dealing with this pandemic in a way that is a lot more effective, and they have reached herd immunity a long time ago, without shutdowns, masking, or forcing people to take an experimental vaccination.”


Moderator: “Affordable and available housing is an issue—it’s an issue not just for citizens to find a place but for us to attract very good professionals in here. With that said could each of you please articulate what you think is causing this problem and what is anything you could do as an individual council person or as a council together.”

Mike French: “I think in general this is a supply issue, and that’s why for the past four years, I’ve been really focused on what can government do to get out of the way so that markets can function, I think, more effectively. What we’ve tried to do is say, in our permitting processes, in our regulations, what is under our control and what is not under our control, because I think a lot people, there’s this impression that oh this is all the state, the state is doing all this. But that’s actually not true. What we found was that actually had a lot that was under our control. And so you know, two years ago, we did basically zoning reform citywide that was really targeted toward how can we make it more affordable for developers and people to remodel and add housing, both existing housing stock and new housing stock. I think what we did was we made a lot of parcels actually a lot more valuable for development in the city of Port Angeles by allowing them to be subdivided or allowing different rules on setback and all those kinds of things. And I think that was really successful and I think that’s in the long run going to be part of the solution . But of course then there’s advocacy work to be done on what the state rules are.”

John Madden: “This is where we need to have lower income housing available for people. What you’re running against here is a market dynamic where you’ve got AirBnBs and that type of offering, and in our situation right here now, we have a very limited stock of available rooms. People in their homes are inviting people from who knows where, whatever part of the world they’re from, to come and stay in one of their bedrooms for profit. A free market society does that and I don’t think it’s the purview of the city council to interfere with that. I believe more people will open up their homes to low-income housing and that’s going to take some guidance, because there are some considerations that need to be addressed in terms of health, community safety, and most of all contamination of our environment. We’re seeing this in places where the homeless are camping in different locations in town.”

City budget

Moderator: “How solid of ground do each of you think the Port Angeles budget is on? Where do you think our budget’s major concerns are especially as we extrapolate into the future?”

Mike French: “My focus for the budget is on how much capacity as a staff—our city staff—to respond to the issues that our citizens really expect us to respond to, not just in law enforcement and code enforcement, but in our building division. Are we delivering enough speed on building permit turnaround. That’s the question that this council is really focused on in our strategic plan is building staff capacity so that we can be responsive as a city to our citizens demands.”

John Madden: “I believe that a portion of our income in this city comes from tourism and we’ve had a problem with the ferry, so this is a fairly significant thing that needs to be addressed. There are certain elements outside of our control with these shutdowns all this type of behavior, but in the long run I believe the budget is not going to be as much of an issue because you’re going to have a resurgence of businesses coming into this city. Right now you see a lot of businesses that have been closed down as a result of the pandemic. I don’t think there are too many other reasons why businesses have been shut down over the last 18 months. As a community we need to work toward getting back to what we called “normal” before, and I believe it’s possible.”

The future of Port Angeles

Moderator: “Tell us how you see Port Angeles in 10 years from now, and most importantly, what would you be doing as a council member to help get to the vision that you see Port Angeles 10 years in the future.”

Mike French: “I really see us growing into a sustainable tourism economy that also has industry as a major sector. And I think that’s something that our community has shown a lot of favor toward through a lot of these open houses that we have. I think that in downtown we can build up, we can get more dense, we can have people living downtown, I think we can transform downtown into a really pedestrian-friendly experience. When a visitor comes to Port Angeles and says what do I need to see, we send them away. We say go to Hurricane Ridge, go to Lake Crescent. What I want to say is, yeah, of course you want to do those things, those are amazing things that show the natural beauty of our area. You also have to visit downtown. That needs to be the third thing on our list of unforgettable Port Angeles experiences and we need to bring our downtown product up to the level where it’s competitive with someone visiting Hurricane Ridge or going out and visiting Lake Crescent.”

John Madden: “Now that we’ve gone through, it’s important to note that we’ve got a sports arena where the younger people can go and play racquet ball, pickle ball, possibly, we have a swimming place here, that’s wonderful. We have all kinds of activities that are healthy for people to engage in. I’m glad that we’ve returned to having exercise at the senior center. That’s extremely important for the health of our people. I know that with population growth, there will be density issues that need to be addressed. I know that we have a new building downtown with mixed-use, which is a good way of dealing with housing and retail combined. It’s hard to see 10 years from now, but I’m optimistic. ”

To watch the full forum, click here. Click here to learn more about elections Clallam County in 2021.

Three Sequim candidates complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Three city council candidates in Sequim, Wa., completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey in recent weeks. Sequim is located in Clallam County, in the northwestern corner of the state.

Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections on Nov. 2 in Clallam County’s three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. In Sequim, eleven offices are up for election, including seats on the city council, the school board, and the water district.

Incumbent Rachel Anderson is running for Sequim City Council Position No. 4 against challenger Daryl Ness. She listed the following three key campaign messages:

  • “I believe I’m the best choice for City Council seat 4 because I have shown my dedication and commitment to the community. My time as Head Start Policy Council Chairperson, an Olympic Community Action Programs Board Member, a Sequim Education Foundation Board Member, a Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market Board Member and Interim Board President, and as an appointed City Council Member have taught me valuable leadership lessons. It is so critical to the well-being of our community that we come together as team, despite our differences, in order to help the people in our community thrive!
  • My top priority is doing everything we can in order to bring more affordable housing to Sequim. Action items I would promote include: applying for grants and building partnerships federally, state-wide, and locally in order to build affordable housing for the workforce within our community.
  • I promote trust and civility between Council members and the Sequim community by doing everything I can to role model the necessary skills of a council member. Since being appointed, trust and civility have been priorities for my role as a council member, considering all of the controversy and negative attitude toward Sequim and its leadership over the past couple of years. It’s so important that each council member does their part: actively listening, asking questions, and actively respecting the decisions of local agencies and organizations in order to keep our community safe. Great and trustworthy leaders take responsibility, are dependable, and match their actions to their words.”

Incumbent Brandon Janisse is running for Sequim City Council Position No. 5 against challenger Patrick Day. Janisee listed the following three key campaign messages:

  1. “Committing to a city government that is efficient, effective, responsible and transparent
  2. Remaining Non-Partisan in a Non-Partisan position
  3. Supporting Individuals and families who are healing from drug addiction and mental health issues”

Lowell Rathbun is running for Sequim City Council Position No. 6. against Keith A. Larkin. Neither candidate is the incumbent in the race. Rathbun listed the following three key campaign messages:

  • “We must bring transparency, trust, and civil discourse back to our city council.
  • Sequim is in an urgent housing crisis. Tackling this challenge is a top priority.
  • Our city must respond to our homeless, addicted and/or mentally neighbors in a compassionate manner.”

To read more about elections in Sequim and Clallam County in 2021, click here.

Fifteen states have issued a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

Since August 2021, 15 states have announced vaccine requirements for healthcare workers.

Thirteen states have a Democratic trifecta. In Maryland and Massachusetts, the governor is a Republican but the state legislature is controlled by Democrats.

Eleven states do not allow healthcare workers to choose between getting a vaccine and getting regularly tested. Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey, however, allow healthcare workers to undergo regular testing in lieu of a vaccine.

New Mexico imposed the earliest deadline—Aug. 27—for workers to get at least one dose of a vaccine. However, New Jersey required healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing no later than Sept. 7. Nevada, with a Nov. 1 deadline, has given healthcare workers the most time to become fully vaccinated.

As of Oct. 8, the deadline for healthcare workers to receive at least one dose of a vaccine has passed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York.

To read more about healthcare worker vaccine requirements, click here.

How Clallam County’s cities vote in presidential elections

There is one county in America that has, since 1980, voted for the winning presidential candidate—Clallam County, Wa. The county’s 40-year record of voting for Republican and Democratic candidates reflects its political diversity. In Clallam County, elections, especially federal and state elections, tend to be closely decided. In 2020 and 2016, for example, Joe Biden (D) and Donald Trump (R) won the county by a margin of 3.37% and 2.28%, respectively. In 2012, voters in Clallam favored Barack Obama (D) over Mitt Romney (R) by a margin of .38%.

At the county level, Clallam’s political leanings can be hard to decipher. Precinct-level voting data reveal the county’s three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks—and assorted unincorporated areas exhibit partisan voting patterns.

For this analysis, we sorted the county’s 68 voter precincts into four groups—those in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks, and those in unincorporated areas.

Clallam County had an estimated population of around 76,770 in 2020. Port Angeles, the county seat, had a population of around 20,000, while Sequim had a population of about 7,600. Forks had a population of about 3,862.

Overall, in the last four presidential elections, Port Angeles and Sequim have leaned Democratic, while Forks has shown a strong preference for Republican candidates. The rest of the county has narrowly favored Republican candidates.

  1. In 2020 in Port Angeles, Biden won 54.678% of the vote to Trump’s 41.16%. In Sequim, Biden won 56.77% to Trump’s 41.21%. In Forks, Trump won 65.36% to Biden’s 31.96%. Trump won the rest of the county by a margin of .77%. 
  2. In 2016 in Port Angeles, Hillary Clinton (D) won 49.42% of the vote to Trump’s 41.47%. In Sequim, Clinton won 48.99% to Trump’s 43.96%. In Forks, Trump won 59.98% to 30.58%. The rest of the county favored Trump over Clinton by a margin of 6.94%.
  3. In 2012 in Port Angeles, Obama won 54.88% of the vote to Romney’s 42.01%. In Sequim, Romney won 48.96% to Obama’s 48.65%. In Forks, Romney won 55.88% to Obama’s 40.51%. Romney won the rest of the county by a margin of 3.49%.
  4. In 2008 in Port Angeles, Obama won 55.71% to John McCain’s (R) 41.85%. In Sequim, Obama won 50.24% to McCain’s 47.52%. In Forks, McCain won 56.31% to Obama’s 40.19%. Obama won the rest of the county by a margin of .13%.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities.