Shauna Walters and Josh VanGelder are two of six candidates in the August primary for two seats on the Battle Ground City Council. The other candidates haven’t made Initiative 1639 a big part of their campaigns, but they still have opinions on it.
Walters is running for Position 3 on the council against Neil Butler and Candy Bonneville. The seat is open because Councilor Steven Phelps is not seeking re-election. VanGelder is running for Position 7 on the council against incumbent Philip Johnson, former Battle Ground mayor, and Katrina Negrov.
None of the other candidates were supportive of I-1639, but none of them have taken as strong a stand against it as Walters and VanGelder.
Butler said he thinks the measure is “poorly written and possesses parts that violate the state and federal Constitution.” Still, he thinks it’s inappropriate to use local government in a way it was not intended.
“The voters in the state used the initiative to pass a law. As an elected official, I am obligated to enforce the laws of the state, regardless of my own opinions,” he said. “City council has very specific duties and responsibilities. Political grandstanding and adding undue pressures and burdens on our law enforcement is a poor use of taxpayer money and disrespectful of all voters who took the time to express their minds.”
Bonneville said that she supports the Second Amendment but isn’t against people being required to pass a background check, prove they understand gun safety practices and have a safe place to keep their guns.
“Where I differ with 1639 and have issue with the law is the ability for someone to go to jail for a violation,” she said. “I understand the need for the law to have some ‘teeth’ for people to comply, but jail sentences almost always disproportionately affect people in lower income brackets who are already struggling.”
Johnson said it would be “voter nullification” to become a sanctuary city. When Patriot Prayer and supporters came to the Battle Ground City Council to make their case earlier this year, Johnson told them to work on getting a counterinitiative on the statewide ballot.
“Like all initiatives and, for that matter ordinances and laws, have flaws in them,” he said. “It’s the way of the system, for their authors are not perfect. Therein is the beauty in the system. The system is set up so that if someone feels that an initiative or law is flawed, they have the opportunity to run a counterinitiative doing away with the ‘offending’ law or initiative.”
Negrov said having more safety training isn’t a bad thing, but that it’s a “slippery slope anytime restrictions are placed on freedoms and rights.”
“Often it is the law-abiding citizen who is forced to jump through more hoops,” she said.