Landslide for democracy in Washington State’s Clallam County
Tim Wheeler / People's World

SEQUIM, Wash.—Voters inflicted a crushing landslide defeat Nov. 2 on four QAnon-connected Sequim City Council incumbents nicknamed the “Gang of Four.” Voters replaced them with five “Good Governance” City Council candidates who spoke out clearly for honesty, transparency, racial equality, and medical science.

Voter turnout in Sequim was 58%, very high for an off-year election.

Following are the main returns, according to Clallam County election officials. Candidates endorsed by the Sequim Good Governance League are identified as “SGGL.” The “Gang of Four” candidates endorsed by the Republican Independent Advisory Association are identified as “IAA”:

  • Kathy Downer (SGGL) 70% vs. Sarah Kincaid (IAA) 29%
  • Vicki Lowe (SGGL) 69% vs. Mike Pence (IAA) 30.8%
  • Rachel Anderson (SGGL) 68.5% vs. Daryl Ness (IAA) 31.3%
  • Brandon Janisse (SGGL) 67%v vs. Patrick Day (IAA) 33%
  • Lowell Rathbun (SGGL) 66% vs. Keith Larkin (IAA) 34%

The margin of victory for the Good Governance slate was roughly two to one. A similar grassroots coalition won a clean sweep in nearby Port Angeles, reelecting four City Council members, including Lindsey Schromin-Wawrin, who won a narrow victory over his Republican opponent.

White supremacy was a constant undercurrent of the Gang of Four in Clallam County. Two years ago, Republicans organized an outfit called “Save Our Sequim” (SOS) that whipped up racist hatred against the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe for taking the lead to construct a MAT clinic in Sequim for the treatment of opioid addiction. Despite SOS legal obstructions, this urgently needed clinic is nearing completion in Sequim.

Again, racism surfaced when nearly 500 Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters staged a vigil at Sequim’s main intersection coinciding with nationwide BLM rallies and marches in the summer of 2020 protesting the murder of George Floyd by a white cop. Armed vigilantes descended on the vigils in Sequim demanding, “Where is Antifa?”

That same day, armed vigilantes terrorized a multi-racial family of campers in Forks, 75 miles west of Sequim, brandishing their assault rifles and demanding, again, “Where is Antifa?” The family was so frightened that Clallam County Sheriff Deputies escorted them out of Clallam County for their own safety.

The Gang of Four pulled every dirty trick in the book, including heavy red-baiting, personal attacks on this People’s World reporter, and falsely branding the Good Governance slate as “communists” and “socialists.”

If anything, their crazed QAnon antics, like ramming through on a split 4 to 3 vote a resolution endorsing the anti-vaxxer war on our Public Health Officer, Dr. Allison Berry, drove voters away, widening the lead for the Good Governance slate.

SOS and their Republican backers also spearheaded the City Council drive to fire Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush, who helped organize mass COVID-19 vaccinations at Carrie Blake Park that gave Clallam County, at one point, the highest vaccination rate in Washington State.

But then-Mayor William Armacost, an outspoken opponent of COVID-19 health measures, praised QAnon as a “truth movement” and urged his listeners to tune in to a QAnon video. Bush criticized the mayor for endorsing QAnon while on duty. Armacost was forced to apologize, but he never forgave Bush and led the drive to fire him and replace him with his handpicked successor. It all added up to a deep voter revulsion against Armacost and his right-wing City Council minions.

Another major countywide victory was the reelection of Tom Oblak, incumbent Hospital Commissioner, with 58% of the vote compared to 41.6% for his Republican challenger, Jim McEntire. McEntire is a former Republican Clallam County Commissioner, a career U.S. Coast Guard officer, and the co-founder of the Independent Advisory Association, the Trumpite Republican outfit that “trains” Republican office-seekers, including Sequim’s QAnon Mayor Armacost.

Also winning election to the Hospital Commission was Heather Jeffers, who garnered 64.5% of the vote, swamping her Republican opponent Karen Rogers’ 35.2%. Voters even cast a strong majority vote for Kristi Schmeck, who had announced months ago an end to her campaign for Sequim School Board. Word was passed urging voters to vote for Schmeck to block Virginia R. Sheppard, a darling of the ultra-right who denounced the teaching of the role of racist oppression in U.S. history. The vote was 56.5% for non-candidate Schmeck and 42% for Sheppard.

One member of the Good Governance coalition, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, took charge of getting yard signs for all five Good Governance candidates posted. Hundreds of signs blossomed in one flowerbed after another—far outnumbering those for the Gang of Four. A woman retired organizer for UNITE-HERE organized canvassing that reached every Sequim neighborhood. Indivisible Sequim organized “Postcard Parties” that sent out thousands of postcards. A retired community organizer mobilized last minute phone-banking that reached hundreds of voters.

Tim Wheeler / People’s World

Voices for Health & Healing mobilized street-corner “waves” at the main intersections in Port Angeles and Sequim holding up signs urging votes for Good Governance candidates and waving at motorists holding signs like “Thank You, Dr. Berry, for Saving Lives,” and “Vicki Lowe for City Council, Sequim’s Daughter.”

Vicki Lowe is a descendant of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe on one side of her family and of pioneer settlers in Sequim on the other side. Born in Sequim, she attended school and graduated from Sequim High. Her children, too, are enrolled in Sequim. She is the Executive Director of the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State, recently named by Gov. Jay Inslee to the state’s Women’s Commission. Lowe and Shenna Younger, founder of SGGL, pushed through the City Council last year a resolution condemning racism and setting up Sequim City forums to discuss ways to combat racism. One idea was to elect tribal members and descendants to the City Council.

Vicki herself has done just that. She, her uncle, Michael Lowe, a member of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, wearing his cedar bark hat, joined the “wave” to elect his niece every Saturday in Sequim. Now he is celebrating.

Correction: The voter turnout in Sequim has been updated to reflect the accurate total, 58%.


Tim Wheeler
Tim Wheeler

Tim Wheeler has written over 10,000 news reports, exposés, op-eds, and commentaries in his half-century as a journalist for the Worker, Daily World, and People’s World. Tim also served as editor of the People’s Weekly World newspaper.  His book News for the 99% is a selection of his writings over the last 50 years representing a history of the nation and the world from a working-class point of view. After residing in Baltimore for many years, Tim now lives in Sequim, Wash.