City Council races: Wales out, Stearns unopposed, Baggett to face Orlandic-Hodak

Vera Orlandic-Hodak and Bob Baggett. COURTESY PHOTOS

Vera Orlandic-Hodak and Bob Baggett. COURTESY PHOTOS

Filing week for candidates for state, county, city, school districts and other offices in Washington state ended last Friday.

The deadline passed with surprises for Auburn voters as they look ahead to elect Auburn City Council members and school district officials in November, according to King County Elections.

The biggest hello was that two-term incumbent Largo Wales, Position 1, did not file for re-election, leaving political newcomer Christopher Stearns unopposed in his bid for the seat.

The Auburn Reporter reached out to Wales for comment, but did not receive an answer.

Another unexpected development was that Mike Kahler, who had announced earlier this year that he would run for Position 7, did not file, leaving incumbent Bob Baggett to face challenger Vera Orlandic-Hodak.

Orlandic-Hodak, a community activist, decided to withdraw from the Position 5 race to take on Baggett, who is bidding for a second term.

The race for Position 5 is between Auburn School Board Director Robyn Mulenga, Ryan Burnett and Anthony Ase. Incumbent John Holman announced last week he would not run for re-election.

James Jeyaraj, who filed for the Position 3 seat long held by Bill Peloza, will face Ken Pearson. Peloza, who began serving in 2004, is not running for re-election.

Among the slate of last-minute filers, only Pearson responded to the Auburn Reporter’s request for a statement. He wrote as follows:

“The City Council’s job is to provide an environment that makes it possible for a safe, secure and prosperous community. We have local issues that need local solutions. We don’t need to import the problems and failed policies of the ‘big city.’ This is the reason why I’m pursuing a seat on the Auburn City Council,” Pearson wrote in his email response.

“My first career was self-serving: a radio announcer-DJ for 17 years,” Pearson wrote. “My second career was to provide for my family as a truck driver. After being declared disabled due to the affects of 13 months of chemo, I find myself in my third career as a volunteer chaplain for the support group at a local cancer treatment center. I find my biggest fulfillment in serving others and wish to serve the entire community of Auburn, my home.

“I am not politically correct; what you see is what you get. I’m not a politician. You can expect me to do what is right for the community, not special interests. Auburn is my special interest,” Pearson concluded.

Elsewhere, Sheilia McClaughlin was the only candidate to file for Auburn School District 1, held for years by director Ray Vefik, who announced earlier this spring that he would not seek re-election.

Chris Grames and Arlista Holman are running for the District 2 seat. Kathleen Estabrook withdrew.

School board incumbent Laura J. Theimer is unopposed in her bid for Director 4.

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