Candidates face off on affordable housing, jobs, environment, and kids

By Gina McMather
Posted 4/17/24



Port Townsend residents raised a familiar set of issues with candidates Hilary Franz and Adam Bernbaum who spoke   at Port Townsend Indivisible’s April 9 meeting. …

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Candidates face off on affordable housing, jobs, environment, and kids




Port Townsend residents raised a familiar set of issues with candidates Hilary Franz and Adam Bernbaum who spoke  at Port Townsend Indivisible’s April 9 meeting. What would they do to address the lack of affordable housing, jobs, protect the environment, and the high cost of childcare?

Hilary Franz (D-Seabrook) is a candidate for Washington’s 6th Congressional District, the seat Derek Kilmer is leaving. She was working as an environmental law attorney when she became the executive director of Futurewise and served on the Bainbridge Island City Council. She is completing her second term as Washington's Commissioner for Public Lands. She stressed the threats facing the environment.

“We don’t have time to waste with a rapidly changing climate,” she said. Wildfires and rising sea levels are growing threats on the Olympic Peninsula.

An audience member asked, given the current dysfunction of the House of Representatives, what she could  expect to accomplish as a freshman representative. She responded that, first, she hopes to see Democrats regain the House and keep the presidency. In any case, she said she thinks many representatives in Congress may have more in common than not, even though it “may not be the same as what they say on TV.” As Commissioner of Public Lands, she has found she can find common ground and build working relationships with people across the political spectrum by taking time to listen to their views..

Adam Bernbaum (D-Port Angeles) is a candidate for Washington's House of Representatives, the open seat that Mike Chapman is leaving to run for state senate. Bernbaum worked for a non-profit focused on behavioral health and criminal justice policy. After working as a field organizer for Derek Kilmer in the 2022 campaign, he served as a legislative assistant for Kevin Van De Wege.

Bernbaum spoke of how his father’s union job as a high school counselor supported the health and stability of his family through difficult challenges. As a state representative, he said his overall goal would be “making it so you get to age with dignity and young people can chase their dreams.” Besides the need to bring good jobs to the peninsula, he said he is passionate about addressing the shortage of affordable housing. Much of the problem is a supply issue, he said in reply to an audience question. He said he favors stronger investment in the Housing Trust Fund as well as regulatory and building code changes that would reduce building costs.

The other Democratic contenders for the District 6 Congressional seat are state Senator Emily Randall (D-Port Orchard), who presented to Indivisible Port Townsend in March and state Senator Drew MacEwen (R-Shelton). The other candidates for the state House seat are Nate Tyler (D-Neah Bay), and Eric Pickens (D-Sequim) both of whom have presented earlier this year, and Matthew Roberson (R-Port Angeles).

Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) and Marcia Kelbon (R-Quilcene) are candidates for the state Senate seat that Sen. Kevin Van De Wege is leaving. Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Port Townsend) is running for re-election and there are no other declared candidates for his seat.

Filing week for public office is May 6-10. There are no declared candidates for the open seat on the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners in District 1, as Kate Dean is not running for re-election. District 2 Commissioner Heidi Eisenhour is running for re-election in District 2. She will speak at Port Townsend Indivisible’s Tuesday, May 14 meeting at 5 p.m. at the Unity Center at 3918 San Juan Ave. The public is invited to attend the program and chat with the candidates over refreshments afterward.

Port Townsend Indivisible is an all-volunteer organization that meets monthly in Port Townsend. It is part of the national grassroots network, Indivisible, which supports progressive candidates and legislation.