Lewis County Primary Election Races Take Shape as Filing Deadline Ends


The final hours of candidate filing week brought plenty of action Friday. 

Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District Brent Hennrich stepped out of the race at the last moment. Lewis County Assessor Dianne Dorey didn’t file for a new term after decades in office, setting up a race between two Republican newcomers. And Republican Linda Williams filed Friday to challenge Lewis County Clerk Scott Tinney, who is also a Republican.

After a week of filing, there are some crowded races that will have to be settled in the August primary election. The top two candidates will move on to the general election.

The following information is up to date as of early Monday afternoon. As of publication there were still several hours before the candidate withdrawal deadline.


No Contest

First, the candidates who didn’t draw an opponent and will likely coast to general election victories:

• State Rep. Peter Abbarno, 20th Legislative District

• State Rep Ed Orcutt, 20th Legislative District

• Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer

• Lewis County Treasurer Arny Davis

• Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod

• Lewis County Auditor Larry Grove

• Lewis County District Court Judge Wade Samuelson

• Lewis County District Court Judge R.W. Buzzard


Crowded Race for Congress

While those candidates are unlikely to have any problems, other races are loaded with candidates.

That’s the case in the 3rd Congressional District, where U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is facing challenges from both sides of the political aisle.

Hennrich won’t be one of them though. He went to Twitter just before the end of filing week with news that he was dropping out to back fellow Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.

"I put my money where my mouth is!" he wrote. “It's been my mantra for this entire race. I spoke with & informed @MGPforCongress yesterday evening that I fight for democracy. So all Dem's PLEASE UNITE BEHIND HER! I know the math. WE CAN #FlipWA03! Please follow & amplify her message.”

There are now nine candidates in the race.

In addition to candidates who have been active on the campaign trail — Republicans Joe Kent, Heidi St. John and Vicki Kraft and Democrat Gluesenkamp Perez — several lesser known candidates have joined the race. They include Democrat Davy Ray, Republican Leslie French, Independent Chris Byrd and “American Solidarity” party member Oliver Black.


Lewis County Commissioner

The race for Lewis County Commissioner in District 3 — which includes East Lewis County — is also packed with candidates.

On Thursday, Harry O. Bhagwandin became the fifth candidate to file for the position after first unintentionally filing for county assessor. According to Bhagwandin, he had intended to file for county commissioner but he inadvertently selected assessor. He promptly withdrew before refiling for commissioner. Bhagwandin lost a non-refundable $900 filing fee.

Bhagwandin, who is running as a Republican, joins four other candidates in the race: Scott Brummer, Jodery (Jody) Goble and Pat Saldana, all running as Republicans, as well as Pete D. Krabbe, who is running with “Stop The Steal” listed as his party preference.

Bhagwandin said he decided to run because he wanted to give voters another choice, one that had a “diversity of experience” working with Lewis County for the last 38 years since he moved here in 1985.

“I have experience working closely with the county commissioners since about 2009 on various community projects,” Bhagwandin said. “I’ve been asked by so many of my friends to please run.”

Bhagwandin said his number one issue is promoting economic development while preserving Lewis County’s rural character.

“I want to create an environment where we actually have jobs for our children. We create these beautiful farms and homesteads and our greatest hope is our kids can live here so one of our greatest challenges is that there’s jobs that are here to support them,” he told The Chronicle.

Bhagwandin also mentioned the importance of river issues, particularly flooding on the Chehalis River and fish restoration on the Cowlitz.

Goble told The Chronicle he “looked at the area district three encompasses and thought about the experience that would be needed to do the job and thought that my experience as an educator would help.”

A Toledo resident who grew up east of Randle, Goble has had a variety of career experiences, including as a professional forester, a community corrections officer and a firefighter.

He said he has concerns with the growth the area is seeing and is worried about displacement. “Do we have the right infrastructure?” Goble asked. “I’m also a substitute teacher so I have a lot of assignments and you see all the new construction. The schools are getting more students, they’re getting portables, we start seeing that type of issue we’re going to need a lot more infrastructure, first responders, hospital districts, things like that. We’re just seeing the front end of this.”

Goble also raised concerns about rising homelessness, particularly around Chehalis and Centralia.

“I’ve noticed a big change in how many people are out and need help,” Goble said.

Goble added, “I think I have the tools for this. I believe in this county and I want to work hard to maintain the beauty that we have.”

Saldana, who currently serves as the chair of the Morton School Board, said she decided to run for commissioner after being approached by Gary Stamper’s wife. Stamper served as county commissioner for District 3 from 2015 until September 2021, when he died of COVID-19 and was replaced by Lee Gross, a former county commissioner who vowed not to run in the upcoming election.

“I believe our area is at the cusp of some major changes and I want to be at the decision table when those decisions are made and be a voice for the people of Lewis County,” Saldana said.

She said small towns around Lewis County all have their own important issues and she believes it’s important for everyone to come together for the community.

“We need to start treating each other with respect. I hope I can set an example. To me, what I’m seeing right now is the biggest issue … coming together strengthens our community. How can we come and bring people together?” Saldana said.

Saldana also mentioned port issues and homelessness as major issues the county is facing. She also highlighted mental health care, which she said has become an even bigger issue due to the COVID-19 pandemic and people needing to isolate. 



At the state legislative level, Jon-Erik Hegstad has filed to run against state Rep. Joel McEntire for the 19th District’s Position 2. Hegstad has filed to run with “Progressive Dem” listed as his party preference. McEntire is also being challenged by Cara Cusack, a Chehalis resident who listed her party preference as Democrat.

Cusack told The Chronicle her decision to enter the race was “kind of a culmination of things I guess. I have eight children and 10 grandchildren and one of the things that has always been a topic of conversation has been things like women’s rights and gay rights. I always taught them to stand up for what they believe in.”

According to Cusack, her son recently asked her why she needed someone else to be her voice rather than being her own. She said that moment made her realize it was time to be her own voice.

Cusack said her big issues are voting rights, women’s rights and gay rights.

“Human rights are a big deal,” Cusack said, adding shortly after, “I don't think religion should be controlling our politics.”

“I’m very moderate, I also believe in the second amendment but I do think there should be reasonable gun measures in place,” Cusack said.

Cusack added she decided to challenge McEntire rather than his Republican seatmate Jim Walsh because there was already a woman running against Walsh and the only person she had seen running against McEntire was someone who identified their party preference as a “Progressive Dem.” Cusack said she didn’t think someone running with that kind of party preference could win in the 19th District and added she thought “we need someone who can work across the aisle.”

Walsh has been challenged by Kelli Hughes Ham, a public school educator from Ilwaco who’s running as a Democrat.

Hughes Ham, a Democrat, is public school educator.

“I have chosen to run against Jim Walsh because, as a public school educator, I don’t like the fact that someone who makes poor decisions sits on the House Education Committee,” she said. “He does not represent my values or those of the people of my community.”

The Democratic challenger said she chose to run against Walsh rather than against Walsh’s Republican House colleague for the 19th District, Joel McEntire, because of education.

“The fact that (Walsh) sits on the House Education Committee … I’m not sure why he sits on that committee when he has no experience in education,” Hughes Ham said.

Hughes Ham added that she thought Walsh “makes pretty bad decisions.”

“I might reference the Star of David thing last year … I think that represents really bad decision making and is really inappropriate,” she said, noting Walsh’s use of the symbol — which he later apologized for — at a protest against vaccine mandates. 

Hughes Ham said she’s had experience serving as a precinct committee officer (PCO), though she said she was disappointed in what she saw.

“I've been a PCO since I think 2013. I used to attend meetings pretty regularly. I haven't attended meetings lately because of the pandemic. But also I didn’t see a lot of change going on like with reaching out to younger voters,” the challenger said. “Pacific County used to be a really union area, with strong working class values.”

Hughes Ham said in order to bring about the change she thinks is needed, she didn’t want to limit her efforts to the local level.

“I’ve been working for systemic change at the local level and I’m just seeing that that’s just not possible, especially in education … The next step is to run at the state level and what better way than to do that than by running against someone who is against public education?” Hughes Ham said.

Neither the 19th or 20th legislative districts’ senate seats are up for election in 2022.


Lewis County

In Lewis County government, Tom Crowson, a Republican from Chehalis, has filed to run for Lewis County assessor, along with fellow Republican Ross Nielson, a Winlock resident. They will work to replace Dorey, who is ending the longest run of any Lewis County elected official.   

The sheriff’s office remained a two-man race between incumbent Rob Snaza and challenger Tracy Murphy, a detective sergeant with the Centralia Police Department. Both candidates are Republicans.


County PUD

Three candidates filed for Lewis County PUD Commissioner in District 3 — Kevin Emerson, of Salkum, Tim Cournyer, of Mossyrock, and Mike Hadaller, of Salkum.

Emerson said he and many people he knows “are very grateful for our employees that we have in the PUD,” but he also said the agency has problems. According to Emerson, the main issue at the PUD is “inefficient use of funds.”

“People have noticed their rates going up … a lot of people feel that it is not the lowest possible rate,” Emerson said, adding, “We’re doing better than we’ve ever done before in terms of conserving energy yet we’re paying more than ever. So where’s the disconnect?”

He also criticized the PUD’s communication, expressing disapproval of some of the agency’s terminology.

“You’ll read the word ‘investment’ and it seems disingenuous and it feels like that wording is not accurate because you’re not getting any money back. Just tell us how you’re going to spend the money,” Emerson said.

Emerson said he has experience dedicating his time to serving his community. He pointed to his time serving on the water district board and as a fire commissioner in Onalaska. Emerson claimed that in his four years on the water district board they successfully paid down a massive debt and managed to lower payments. At the fire department, he said within a year and a half they managed to “rebuild the department from the ground up,” after a large portion of the department and all of the commissioners quit and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries condemned the fire hall.

“Two really good success stories where the department was literally at its worst spot it could be and I was fortunate enough to be a part of the teams that brought those two departments back,” said Emerson, adding, “I have a track record of going into a department or agency where there is inefficiency and changing the trajectory.”

Tim Cournyer, the incumbent commissioner, said he had originally run due to his interest in the PUD and because he thought his time managing both small and large businesses would be valuable to the board.

“I owned an accounting practice in Morton for 17 years, was a chief financial officer for 12 years and a chief executive officer for five years at public hospital districts until I retired in 2020. I also believed my experience in the public sector along with my ability to work as part of a team would be beneficial,” said the incumbent.

Cournyer said there’s still a lot that he wants to do as a PUD commissioner.

“There are many projects in process, many planned for the future, and the many issues we will be facing in the future that if not addressed now, and plans made now to mitigate these issues, will negatively impact the PUD's ability to provide adequate power and cost us millions of dollars,” Cournyer said.

Cournyer said he wants to ensure customers have “safe, reliable, affordable power.” To ensure his goal is met, the commission needs “to continue our aggressive tree trimming program and maintain/update our system. We need to work side by side with other utilities to ensure that we have resource adequacy to avoid brownouts and blackouts in the future,” he added.

Cournyer also mentioned his desire to expand broadband access in rural areas while also wanting to ensure the PUD’s customers are paying the lowest possible rates.

Hadaller, a lifelong Lewis County resident, told The Chronicle he decided to run for office because he takes issue with some of the PUD’s policies. According to Hadaller, the Lewis County PUD uses a “closed door policy,” which he claimed contrasted with other counties where you can get a “readout” once a quarter of what had been discussed.

Hadaller said he learned more about the PUD after being approached by some ex-PUD officials. He said another part of why he decided to run was he felt he could help in running the agency due to his experience as a business owner.

He also expressed frustration about what he viewed as larger businesses moving into the area and raising prices for everyone else.

“If you’re going to move in here, wouldn’t you feel they should pay for their own power upgrade? It’s not our job to pay for them,” Hadaller told The Chronicle.


Other Races and Information

Incumbent U.S. Senator Patty Murray had 17 challengers in her race for a sixth term representing Washington.

Steve Hobbs, who was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee last year to replace Kim Wyman as Secretary of State after she stepped down to take a job in the Biden Administration, is seeking his first election to the office. Hobbs is opposed by Julie Anderson, the Pierce County auditor who filed as a non-partisan candidate, and Keith Wagoner, a Republican state senator representing the 39th Legislative District. Hobbs is also joined by Bob Hagglund and Mark Miloscia, both running as Republicans, Marquez Tiggs, who is running as a Democrat, Tambourine Borrelli, who is running with the party preference “America First (R)” and Kurtis Engle, who is running with the party preference of “Union.”

In addition to larger races, dozens of candidates have filed for precinct committee officer positions across the county. In all in Lewis County, there were 203 candidates filed for 113 offices.

Candidates who wished to withdraw had to do so by Monday, May 23.

If no individual files for specific positions, those positions will have a special three-day filing period at the auditor’s office from May 25 to May 27. If no candidate files for an office during the special filing period, the office will be lapsed and deemed stricken from the ballot with no write-in votes counted and no candidate certified as elected. There is no three-day special filing period for PCO positions.

To see which offices are open for election or candidates who have filed, go to the elections website under “Candidate Information,” select “2022 Offices Open for Election” to see offices, incumbents and filing fees. Select “Candidates Who Have Filed” to view up-to-date candidate filings.

To view an updated list of candidates and the races they have filed for, visit https://voter.votewa.gov/CandidateList.aspx?e=876&c=21.