Majority of freeholder candidates receptive to initiatives, referendums



Online Database by Caspio
Click here to load this Caspio Online Database.

The overwhelming opinion of freeholder candidates in Clark County is to offer the powers of initiative and referendum to the voters in a new county charter.

Of the 67 freeholder candidates who responded to the matter in a survey by The Columbian, 53 say they favor — or gave positive feedback regarding — the initiative and referendum process. Ten individuals said they are still considering the topic. Just four said they were opposed to the powers of initiative and referendum.

The power of initiative gives voters direct lawmaking authority, authorizing them to vote on changes to county codes and laws.

Referendum allows voters to ask commissioners to reconsider certain laws or rules. It also offers commissioners an opportunity to pass legislation, then send it to a vote of the people before it is finalized.

Every charter county in the state of Washington has given residents the powers of initiative and referendum. And that near-universal support of initiative and referendum is often tempered only by the rules surrounding how it will be implemented — and that voters keep context in mind.

Carolyn Long, a political science professor at Washington State University Vancouver who specializes in politics and elections, said “context is key when you look at initiative and referendum,” as several of them are “bland” and not as far-reaching as folks might expect.

A noncomprehensive list of passed initiatives in Washington state charter counties compiled by Clark County shows most initiatives deal in land-use restrictions or planning. The initiative process has also been used to make changes to the charter, such as shrinking the size of the county council and change certain positions to elected office.

Still, the powers are widely accepted as a good change, as it gives citizens more control. And all three sitting Clark County commissioners have spoken in favor of the matter to that end.

Long says that local control is a big reason for the support.

“Local initiative and referendum brings direct democracy that we have at the state level down to the local level,” she said. “Voters essentially have greater direct influence of local governance.”

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said one thing to keep in mind as freeholders draft a new county charter is what sideboards will be put on the matter. For example, what signature threshold will be expected and how many days will be allowed to gather signatures.

“Those are the ‘devil in the details’ parts,” Kimsey said. “But working out those details shouldn’t be an impediment to including them in the charter.”

Candidate comments

The majority of freeholder candidates said that initiative and referendum grant more governing authority to the people.

The four individuals to come out and outright oppose the matter are Garry Lucas, a candidate for District 1, Position 1; Scott McElhaney a candidate for District 1, Position 1; Jamie Hurly, a candidate for District 2, Position 1; and Val Ogden, a candidate for District 3, Position 2.

“The sheer number of advisory votes on the November ballot already suggests that several layers of government in the state are not working well,” Hurly wrote in her response. “Elected officials have a duty to represent the interests of their constituents. They also have an obligation to stand on the right side of history on controversial issues even if the honor in taking such a stance might be politically costly. So no, we don’t need initiatives and referendums at the county level. We need good, honest, thoughtful commissioners who can work together to improve the quality of life here for all of us and those who will come after us.”

For full responses from all responding candidates, visit

Where do the candidates stand on initiative and referendum?


Support initiative and referendum

Marlene “Korczakowski” Adams (Position 1)

Morris Foutch (Position 1)

Ann Rivers (Position 2)

Donald A. Leonard (Position 2)

Doug Ballou (Position 2)

Tom Lawrence (Position 2)

Bridget Schwarz (Position 3)

David A. Darby (Position 3)

Jackie (Jacqueline) Lane (Position 3)

Richard (Dick) Rylander (Position 3)

Rob Lutz (Position 3)

Scott Edwards (Position 3)

Ben Meyer (Position 4)

Fiona Humphrey (Position 4)

Peter Silliman (Position 4)

Troy Van Dinter (Position 4)

David Standal (Position 5)

Patricia Reyes (Position 5)

Ralph Akin (Position 5)

Randy Mueller (Position 5)

Oppose initiative and referendum

Garry Lucas (Position 1)

Scott McElhaney (Position 1)


Dan Sockle (Position 2)

Tim Podhora (Position 3)

Chris Lockwood (Position 4)

Dick Deleissegues (Position 5)

Wendy Lyn Smith (Position 5)

Unclear answer

Patrick Bourcier (Position 5)

Did not respond

Dale Smith (Position 1)

Darren S. Wertz (Position 1)

Ron Onslow (Position 1)

Joseph Zarelli (Position 3)

John Main (Position 4)

Mark Gawecki (Position 4)

Sharon Ferguson (Position 4)

Steve Foster (Position 4)

Patrick O’Rourke (Position 5)

R. “Bob” Freund (Position 5)

Sherry Erickson (Position 5)

Troy Maxoy (Position 5)


Support initiative and referendum

Cheryl Bledsoe (Position 1)

Diana H. Perez (Position 1)

Joel Littauer (Position 1)

Rob Perkins (Position 1)

Debbie Abraham (Position 2)

Esther Schrader (Position 2)

John Bryden (Position 2)

Lloyd Halverson (Position 2)

Jim Martin (Position 3)

John Burke (Position 3)

Judie Stanton (Position 3)

Liz Pike (Position 3)

Russell Boten (Position 3

Adam Baldwin (Position 5)

Jacob “Jake” Smith (Position 5)

Oppose initiative and referendum

Jamie Hurly (Position 1)


Nan Henriksen (Position 1)

Paul Dennis (Position 4)

Did not respond

Thomas Hann (Position 1)

Ken Kakuk (Position 2)

Tracy S. Wilson (Position 2)

Dimitry Mishchuk (Position 4)

Roger Neilson (Position 4)

Anthony “Tony” McMigas (Position 5)

Bentley Brookes (Position 5)

Chuck Miller (Position 5)

Marc Boldt (Position 5)


Support initiative and referendum

Craig Riley (Position 1)

Pat Jollota (Position 1)

Carolyn Crain (Position 2)

Jeanne Schaefer-Ringo (Position 2)

Adrian Gomez (Position 4)

Alex Veliko (Position 4)

Don Yingling (Position 4)

Frank L’Amie (Position 4)

Kyle Greenwood (Position 4)

Sally Fisher (Position 4)

Temple Lentz (Position 4)

Jackie Marsden (Position 5)

Jerry Oliver (Position 5)

Jim Dunn (Position 5)

Jim Mains (Position 5)

John Caton (Position 5)

John Jenkins (Position 5)

Mark Monroe (Position 5)

Oppose initiative and referendum

Val Ogden (Position 2)


Alice Anne Williams (Position 3)

Jim Moeller (Position 3)

Michael J. Barry (Position 4)

Unclear answer

Mike Yancey (Position 5)

Did not respond

Ryan Palmer (Position 1)

John Lowell Gilbert (Position 2)

Bruce A Samuelson, Sr. (Position 3)

David Gray, Jr. (Position 3)

Debbie Peterson (Position 3)

Jerry Keen (Position 3)

Keith E. Bellisle (Position 3)

Lowell D. Miller (Position 3)

Mike Woodward (Position 3)

Bill Hughes (Position 4)

Dan Barnes (Position 4)

Gene C. Ringo (Position 4)

Kris Fay (Position 4)

Winde Bekins Chavez (Position 4)

Bill Cismar (Position 5)

Bob Carroll (Position 5)

Jack Harroun (Position 5)

James Taylor “Jimmy Tee” (Position 5)

Thomas Richard Higdon (Position 5)