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Local names are in the spotlight for this years primary election

  • Updated
  • 2 min to read
Filing week kicks off

This story has been modified since its initial publication to reflect a clarification

With the start of filing week Monday, Walla Walla County appears headed toward new representation on the Board of Commissioners.

Commissioner Jim Johnson said Monday he will not seek re-election for a third term.

Meanwhile, Walla Walla Realtor Roger Esparza has filed to run as a Republican for the District 1 seat that encompasses the central and southern voting districts in the city of Walla Walla and the south-central portion of the county to the Oregon state line. As of this morning, he was the only candidate to file.

Similarly Commissioner Todd Kimball, also running as a Republican, had no challengers so far for his District 2 seat, which covers most of eastern Walla Walla County and portions of the city of Walla Walla.

The two races are locally among the biggest, which also include a major shakeup in the 16th Legislative District, as the August primary approaches.

At the state level, three seats are up for election in Legislative District 16, which consists of Walla Walla and Columbia counties along with portions of Benton and Franklin counties.

So far, three candidates will vie for state senator of the 16th Legislative District while two state representative positions are up for grabs.

Two seats on the Columbia County Board of Commissioners are also up for election.

Halfway through the week, the development around Johnson’s seat serves as the biggest surprise so far, in that it had not been previously announced.

“I can honestly say serving as a Walla Walla County commissioner has been one of the most rewarding, interesting and challenging experiences of my life,” Johnson said Monday. “However, after the health issues I’ve faced over the past nine months, my perspective on life is a little different.”

Johnson is currently in remission from acute myeloid leukemia.

“I have done a lot of soul searching and believe this is the best decision for me and my family,” he said.

In Columbia County, incumbent Ryan Rundell is so far the lone candidate for the District 1 seat.

Incumbent Mike Talbott faces competition for the District 2 seat from Marty Hall of Pomeroy. Both prefer the Republican Party.

In the state Senate race, Bill Jenkin, a Republican from Prosser, seeks to move from his Position 1 seat as representative to become senator. But he faces competition from Perry Dozier, a former Walla Walla County commissioner and farmer who favors the Republican Party, and Danielle Garbe Reser, former CEO of the Sherwood Trust, who favors the Democratic Party.

The seat is currently held by Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla. Walsh has said she would not seek re-election.

Incumbent Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla, faces at least one challenger for Position 2. Carly Coburn, a candidate from Pasco who prefers the Democratic Party, has filed to run against him.

Mark Klicker, who prefers the Republican Party and Frances Chvatal, who prefers the Democratic Party, are so far the only two candidates to file for Jenkin’s Position 1 seat.

Also on the ballot is U.S. Representative for Congressional District 5, which encompasses the Eastern Washington counties of Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, Spokane, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Spokane, Whitman and Asotin.

Incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, will face at least two opponents.

Both from Spokane Valley, Stephen Major, who prefers the Republican Party and Chris Armitage, who prefers the Democratic Party, have filed to run.

For Superior Court, two positions for judge are open in Walla Walla.

Michael Mitchell and Brandon Johnson have filed to compete for Position 1 as Scott Wolfram runs unopposed thus far for Position 2.

In Columbia County, Superior Court Judge Position 1 has three candidates: Victor Bottomly from Clarkston, Scott Marinella from Dayton and Brooke Burns from Clarkston.

Prospective candidates have until 4 p.m. Friday to file for open positions.

Chloe LeValley can be reached at or 509-526-8326.

Chloe LeValley covers the cities of Walla Walla and College Place as well as agriculture and the environment in the Walla Walla Valley. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University and joined the Union-Bulletin's team in October 2019.