PORT ANGELES — City Council candidates Michael Merideth and Marolee Smith displayed few policy differences at a general election campaign forum Tuesday, lining up together on cutting down obstructive trees at city-owned Lincoln Park and fluoridation of city water.
Both said park trees should be cut back to unblock runway access to the Port of Port Angeles’ nearby William R. Fairchild International Airport, an option that has drawn opposition at council meetings.
Meredith and Smith said they also oppose fluoridation of city water.
City water users can participate in a Nov. 6 survey that the council will review to determine if water should be fluoridated beyond May 16, when a 10-year fluoridation commitment expires with the Washington Dental Service Foundation.
Merideth and Smith, neither of whom have run for public office before, are vying Nov. 3 for the four-year Position 5 seat held by Dan Di Guilio, who is not running for re-election and also is the council-chosen mayor.
The general election ballots will be mailed to voters Oct. 14.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of difference between Mike and me,” Smith said at the end of the breakfast-meeting political get-together, sponsored by the Port Angeles Business Association and attended by about two dozen participants.
“I’d vote for you,” Smith said, turning to Merideth as the two sat at a table in front of the dining room at Joshua’s Restaurant & Lounge.
“What am I doing running?” she quipped.
Smith, 60 by Nov. 3 and a 20-year Clallam County resident, was raised in Reno, Nev., and Northern California.
She is a published author, freelance writer and researcher who has worked in public relations and owned two downtown businesses: Spicer’s Delicatessen and Grocery and the Port Angeles Community Market.
Calling the existing council “complacent” during her opening remarks, Smith said council members seem to approve everything that city staff puts before them.
“That’s not the balance we need,” she said.
Smith also criticized the impact that construction of The Gateway transit center had on downtown businesses and utility rates she said were too high.
“We need to turn the ship around,” Smith said.
Merideth, 42 by Nov. 3, is a 40-year county resident, Port Angeles High School graduate and log-truck driver for Bruch & Bruch Construction Inc.
Smith said the city violated the public trust by not previously allowing a public vote on fluoridation, calling it “shocking.”
“There’s something behind this, and I’d love to know the answer,” she said.
Merideth called fluoridation an “ethics question” and said fluoride is readily available if residents want to use it without fluoridating city water.
“It’s not the same as vaccination,” he said.
Someone who does not drink fluoridated water is not going to “infect your neighbor,” Merideth added…