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  • Arne Mortensen

About the 2017 Kalama Mayoral Race


The mayoral race in Kalama took a weird turn last night, Thursday 6 Oct 2017, when Candidate Tom Merz said he was suspending his campaign. Tom was the only candidate who represented values that might be categorized under the Ronald Reagan aphorism, “Government is the problem, not the solution.”

We in Kalama should continue to vote for Tom. To see why read below:

From personal communication with Tom, I heard two reasons for his surprising move:

  1. He felt that maybe he did not really qualify under the residency requirement as stated in RCW 35A.12.030 and that doubt affected his sense of honesty. A reading of that RCW can be literal, in which case one is left to wonder why clearer language was not used. Instead of “has been a resident of the city for a period of at least one year next preceding his or her election” why not “for the twelve months immediately preceding his or her election.” The reading also can be in the spirit of the law, which is unequivocally to forbid political games that interlopers might play. Tom has a very long history with Kalama and cannot be considered to be an interloper. We can also look at RCW 35A.12.050 to see that the legislature foresaw a myriad of possibilities. For example, the citizens can and should still vote for Tom, but assume, for argument sake, that enough citizens voted for, say, John Doe, who lives in Alaska, so John Doe is the mayor elect. What to do is handled by this RCW (35A.12.050); it starts with: “The office of a mayor or councilmember shall become vacant if the person who is elected or appointed to that position fails to qualify as provided by law …” The legislature intended to let the people speak for their choice. This attitude may be our only hope from further killing our society with bureaucratic edicts, blind to fundamental principles. Further, at least this issue is quite in the open and the people and the council may speak to it. It is legitimate. Now consider that one candidate is an advocate for the Needle Exchange Program. How does one reconcile that position with the law that bans the use and sale of drug paraphernalia? Should not that disqualify the candidate under a rigorous interpretation? The other candidate is opposed to the Methanol plant. That is a case in which all the proper (and onerous) requirements have been followed, yet the lawsuits continue. This is yet another attempt to ignore the will of the people. How is killing the methanol plant going to help Kalama? The interest of the people is subordinated to personal desire.

  2. Tom was afraid of a law suit. He mentioned that a candidate had lawyer(s) in the waiting; I can guess that he had been threatened, probably veiled. Tom is young and does not have the resources to fight a law suit, so he took the above mentioned action to protect his family. In this case, Tom was running not for his health or political ambitions but to protect us from bureaucratic nonsense and unreasonable hubris desiring to tell us how to live. To be subjected to this kind of blackmail speaks badly for those candidates seeking shelter under (in this case) misguided triviality. We should not reward this behavior.

Let’s take back Kalama and vote for Tom Merz. Let’s trust that the process in RCW 35A.12.050 will provide a responsible and legitimate resolution.


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