On Tuesday and Thursday, debates between candidates in Lewis County were hosted by The Chronicle Editorial Board. The purpose of the debates is to provide more information to the public ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
Of the local races, the one for Lewis County sheriff between incumbent Rob Snaza and challenger Tracy Murphy has been the most contentious. The duo was hosted on Thursday and was granted unlimited rebuttals, allowing for over 45 minutes of back-and-forth on a variety of issues including jail conditions, the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team, police reform laws, endorsements and more. A Chehalis-based marketing agency, The Silver Agency, which is owned by the publisher and CEO of The Chronicle, has assisted Snaza’s campaign. Anyone with a connection to the agency recused themselves before the sheriff candidates’ debate to avoid conflicts of interest. The candidates were also offered the chance to dismiss any others who were present at the time.
The first of the series was more of an interview than a debate. Incumbent Lewis County Clerk Scott Tinney, who is running for re-election in November, was the only candidate to appear for the event. His opponent, Linda Williams, didn’t respond to a request to be involved.
The second was held between Lewis County District 3 Commissioner Candidates Scott Brummer, R-Winlock, and Harry Bhagwandin, R-Onalaska. The two did not use any rebuttals and answered questions on homelessness, flooding, energy and broadband internet.
The top vote-getter between the two will be elected immediately in November to replace current commissioner Lee Grose, who was appointed to the seat after the death of Commissioner Gary Stamper, whereas most other elected officials will be sworn in at the beginning of January 2023.
County commissioners make a yearly salary of $90,886 plus benefits.
The third was between the candidates for Lewis County assessor. Whoever is elected to the seat will be the first new person in the role since 1998, as their predecessor Dianne Dorey will soon retire.
The candidates, who are both filed as Republicans, are Tom Crowson, of Napavine, and Ross Nielson, of Winlock. The two answered questions on property taxes, lobbying in the state legislature, customer service and handling conflict. Several rebuttals were used in the debate.
The editorial board is made up of community representatives and the newspaper’s associate editor, regional editor and editor-in-chief.
The last day to register by mail, online or at a drivers’ licensing location is eight days before the election, next Monday, Oct. 31.
To register to vote in this election, head to https://elections.lewiscountywa.gov/voter-registration/ or call 360-740-1164 to find registration nearest you. Visit https://elections.lewiscountywa.gov/current-election/ for an online voters’ guide to read more about the candidates.