With six months to go before the 2018 general election, candidates are already pre-filing for local elective office, and the pace will pick up in another week when the official filing period opens. A host of county, judicial, legislative and federal offices are up for election this year.
Two prominent positions — Cowlitz County Assessor and Treasurer — will be completely up for grabs, as Assessor Terry McLaughlin and Treasurer Kathy Hanks are retiring. So far, each office has one candidate who has filed with the the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). Chief Deputy Treasurer Debra Gardner, a Democrat, is seeking to replace Hanks. Residential Appraiser Emily Wilcox, an independent, will run for assessor.
Sheriff Mark Nelson and County Commissioner Joe Gardner each have one candidate running against them, according to PDC filings. Libertarian Curtis Hart of Lexington has filed to challenge Nelson, the long-time incumbent. Kelso Republican Jerry Cooper is challenging Gardner, a first-term independent from Toutle.
On the judicial side, District Court Judges David Koss and Edward Putka are retiring, and the third seat has been vacated. Two people are running for Koss’ spot, and the other two seats have one candidate each as of Friday. (The county, however, has decided not to eliminate a district court seat.)
19th District state reps. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) and Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) have one competitor each: Adna Democrat Erin Frasier is running against Walsh and Cathlamet Republican Joel McEntire is challenging Blake. It’s a similar situation for 20th District state reps. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) and Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis). Democrats Jacob Kiehn of Packwood, and Brennan Bailey of Chehalis are running against DeBolt and Orcutt, respectively. On a federal level, Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell has two challengers who have filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Third District Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Camas) has four: Vancouver Democrats Carolyn Long, Dorothy Gasque, and David McDevitt and Camas Republican Earl Bowerman.
There are no races for city governments, school boards or fire districts in Cowlitz County in 2018.
According to the Washington Secretary of State’s website, candidates must file a declaration of candidacy between May 14 and May 18. The official filing period takes place at that time, but candidates are allowed to file electronically in advance. Races that have more than two candidates will appear on the Aug. 7 primary ballot; the two individuals who receive the most votes in the primary will face off in the general election on Nov. 6.