CANDIDATE FORUM: Elfers dismisses negative campaigning rumor, Dickson promotes business experience

A recent political forum began on a somewhat surprising note, as Enumclaw City Council incumbent Rich Elfers used the opportunity to dash a rumor creeping around town.

The setting was a morning gathering of candidates for a variety of local offices, hosted by the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce and Green River Community College. The Oct. 18 session was at GRCC Enumclaw.

When it was his turn to speak, Elfers immediately turned to a prepared statement, dashing the notion of negative campaigning aimed at his opponent’s faith. He is being challenged by Enumclaw businessman Darrel Dickson, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"There's a rumor going around that I'm speaking against Mormons as I have been doorbelling around the town for re-election," Elfers said. “Let me state clearly that this is not the case. One of my goals is to build community, not divide it."

Elfers had reached out a day earlier, going to media outlets and denying any anti-LDS campaigning.

With the opening statement behind him, Elfers attempted to turn aside Dickson’s claims that a businessman is better suited to represent Enumclaw citizens than a history teacher.

“Government works on a different principal, cities play by different rules,” he said.Elfers pointed to his own experience dealing with finances, noting that he has helped draft city budgets during the four years he has already served on council. City administration, he said, has listened to his suggestions and incorporated his ideas into this year’s budgeting process.

“Now is the time to stay the course,” he said. “Four years ago I ran because I thought I could make the city a better place…and I need more time.”

Leading off  the forum, Dickson made it clear he’s offering voters a choice.He’s not happy with the way the city is headed and urged those who agree to vote for a change in government.

Dickson cited his lifelong residency in Enumclaw and his desire to help create a positive future for his six kids. "I want this community to be as good for t hem as it was for me," he said.

Emphasizing his experience as a business owner, Dickson pointed to the Enumclaw Expo Center as a problem area created by city government. It has been losing money, he said, and needs a businessman's perspective to help turn things around.

He has experience dealing with payrolls, he said, and knows how to trim costs.

Dickson noted the recent conflict between the city and Enumclaw School District over management of the newly-renovated football field. The widespread frustration, he said, could have been avoided had the council developed a clear vision for the important venue.

The only other candidate in a contested race to speak was Tina McGann, who is squaring off against Dan Peterson to fill a vacancy on the Enumclaw School Board.

Peterson had a scheduling conflict and could not attend.

McGann used the opportunity to highlight her lengthy involvement in school district affairs.

"I love to be involved," she said, noting she has been active with the Black Diamond Elementary PTA, once serving as president, and has been part of the Enumclaw Schools Foundation.

"I want to be an advocate for the community," she concluded.

Also appearing at the forum were Jim Hogan and Chance LaFleur, unopposed candidates for seats on the Enumclaw City Council, and Nancy Merrill, April Schroeder and Corey Cassell, unopposed school board candidates.


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