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Online forums this week kick off local elections

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2020 forum

This story has been updated to reflect a correction.

Local voters will have a chance to see candidates for the 2020 election in true 2020 fashion this week.

Online forums will take place Tuesday and Thursday featuring candidates for county and state positions, held virtually because an in-person gathering was deemed too difficult by organizers amid COVID-19 pandemic precautions.

The forums are being hosted by the local branch of the American Association of University Women and the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce via Zoom and will be streamed live on Facebook as well at 6:30 p.m. on both days.

The county and superior court candidates will speak Tuesday, and the state legislative candidates will speak Thursday.

The meetings can be viewed on the Chamber’s website at wwvchamber.com, where people can also pre-register to participate in the Zoom calls. Those watching on the Chamber’s Facebook page will not be able to ask questions, but those on Zoom will be able to do so.

The stream will also be on AAUW’s website at wallawalla-wa.aauw.net.

Walla Walla AAUW President Kathy Jones said the big benefit to being online this year will be the recording capabilities.

Jones encouraged people to spread the information about the forum and “reach as many voters as possible.”

Primary ballots are being sent in the mail and should arrive by this Friday, the beginning of the 18-day primary voting period.

The Washington primary is Aug. 4, with certified results due from the Secretary of State’s office by Aug. 21.

Write-in candidates have until Thursday to file, or they will pay a fee for the August primary.

The forum is also presented by the Walla Walla Realtors Association, Blue Mountain Action Council, La Voz, the Whitman College Department of Politics, the Walla Walla Latino Alliance, the Democratic and Republican parties of Walla Walla County and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.

State legislative races

This year’s election features a few races that do not have incumbents seeking reelection, including the state senate position for District 16 currently held by Republican state Sen. Maureen Walsh of College Place.

In the running is former Walla Walla County Commissioner Perry Dozier, who said the race is going to have large implications.

“This really is a big race in the state,” Dozier said.

The Republican candidate said one his campaign advisors, who has worked on multiple campaigns throughout the years, told him it’s one of the five most important races in the state this year.

Also in the running is former Sherwood Trust CEO Danielle Garbe Reser of Walla Walla, running as a Democrat, and current state Rep. Bill Jenkin of Prosser, a Republican serving in the 16th District.

With Jenkin in the running for Walsh’s vacancy, that leaves his 16th District Position 1 open in the House of Representatives.

In the running is Mark Klicker of Walla Walla, founder and former owner of Klicker Enterprises and currently a realtor and a consultant with his company Urban, Farm and Forest Group. Klicker is running as a Republican.

Up against Klicker is Frances Chvatal of Walla Walla, a registered nurse with 35 years of experience. Chvatal is on the Democratic ticket.

For the 16th Position 2, Republican Rep. Skyler Rude is running for reelection after completing his first two-year stint.

Running against Rude is Democratic challenger Carly Coburn of Pasco. Coburn is a political activist and volunteers for multiple nonprofit efforts in the Tri-Cities.

County commissioner racesThree Republicans are vying for Walla Walla County Commissioner District 1, which will be vacated by current Commissioner Jim Johnson, who battled leukemia this past year.

Walla Walla Realtor Roger Esparza, Hot Mama’s Espresso co-owner Jenny Mayberry and former Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office employee Tom Cooper, who has worked for the Department of Corrections in recent years, will face off.

There are no Democratic challengers in that race.

The District 2 commissioner position looks to be Republican Todd Kimball’s, as the incumbent faces no challengers.

Superior Court races

Walla Walla County Superior Court will have a battle for the next judge in Position 1 as Judge John Lohrmann is not pursuing reelection this year.

In the running are local attorneys Michael Mitchell and Brandon Johnson, both practicing law in Walla Walla.

Running unopposed for Position 2 is incumbent M. Scott Wolfram.

Jedidiah Maynes can be reached at jedidiahmaynes@wwub.com or 509-526-8318.

Jedidiah Maynes is the managing editor of Walla Walla Lifestyles magazine. He also writes about business news in the Valley and covers a variety of others topics on occasion. He enjoys making music and puns.