$n$ Candidates square off in Tuesday debates

The debates come ahead of ballot mailing on Friday for the Aug. 17 primary.

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WALLA WALLA -- Views were aired, opinions traded and barbs launched Tuesday as candidates in a looming primary election gathered for a debate.

Sponsored by the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce, the event drew a crowd to Whitman College to hear contenders for Walla Walla County sheriff, coroner and a District 16 state representative seat speak and answer questions on a range of topics.

The debate among the sheriff's candidates, Jim Romine, John Turner and Bill White appeared to draw the most interest as well as the most watchers. The hourlong session ended with a sharp exchange between Romine and White over accepting campaign support from fellow officers. On other topics, the candidates stressed their law enforcement experience, discussed how they would improve services, handle budget issues and deal with gang issues.

All three candidates have listed their party preference as Republican.

Preceding that was a debate between the five candidates running for the Walla Walla County coroner's office: Frank Brown, Richard Greenwood, Ken Hall, Virginia Romine and Jim Schmerer.

As in the sheriff's debate, candidates discussed their qualifications for the office and then fielded questions from moderator Rick Eskil on their views of what the duties of the office are, cooperation with other governmental agencies, budget issues and instituting efficiencies.

Brown, who is the incumbent, is running as a write-in candidate after failing to meet the filing deadline to be on the Aug. 17 primary ballot. Greenwood and Virginia Romine have listed their party preference as Republican while Hall and Schmerer have listed no party preference.

Capping the evening was a debate between Maureen Walsh and Brenda High, who are both running for the District 16 state representative seat, position 1. Walsh, the incumbent, has listed her party preference as Republican while High has listed her preference as the Constitution Party. Since no other candidates filed for the position, both will automatically advance to the November 2 general election.

Tuesday night's debate can be viewed at union-bulletin.com/page/elections.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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