Candidates peddling conspiracy theories lose races in western Washington
Up in Snohomish County, candidate Anita Shad ran for a seat on a Public Hospital Commission with an innocuous voter's guide statement.
It emphasized her experience working with diverse communities in fields including Education and Medicine. But it left out her record of spreading medical misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shad reportedly promoted ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19, despite FDA warnings, and last summer spoke at an anti-vaccine rally in Olympia under a different name, Anita Azariah.
"Don't take the vaccine, but if you want to take the vaccine, it's your choice," she urged fellow protestors.
Shad lost the race to Jim Distelhorst, a retired doctor who was the incumbent in Position 5 in Public Hospital District No. 2, also known as the Verdant Health Commission.
According to Distelhorst, Shad's controversial views on medicine could have become a headache for the hospital commission had she won.
“I have seen boards where you have one person disagreeing with the other four and you spend a lot of time and energy though dealing with,” he said.
“What bothers me is the stealth part of it,” he added. “The only election-related material doesn't mention any of those issues. She refused to answer questions from local media down here and also from the League of Women voters.”
Shad did not respond to KUOW’s request for an interview.
Down in Renton, Katie Bachand also ran a stealth campaign in a public hospital commission race.
Her official candidate statement did not mention that she was spreading misinformation about ivermectin and vaccines on her Facebook page. And she refused to discuss those posts with reporters.
“My views on mandates on mask wearing are not relevant,” she told KUOW, emphasizing that the relevant information is about her conservative stances on finances.
As of Friday, Bachand was running behind her opponent Monique Taylor-Swan by around 2,000 votes. Taylor-Swan is a union board member with SEIU 775, and a home care aide with Washington's Department of Social and Health Services.
“I think that that's a threat to health care. You're not vaccinated, nor wearing a mask, you're putting everyone at risk, and you just may be putting more people at risk with the decisions that you're making,” she said.
Out on the Olympic Peninsula, a slate of candidates was advised by a QAnon apologist named Donnie Hall, a Clallam County Republican who co-founded a group called the Independent Advisory Association, which recruits and trains conservative-populist candidates.
Shortly after KUOW's reporting on Hall, he reportedly distanced himself from QAnon, calling it a "hoax."
Nevertheless, as of Friday November 5, Hall's candidates were either running behind or had already lost. That includes three incumbents in Sequim, where sitting mayor Mayor William Armocost has promoted QAnon conspiracy theories.
These election results will effectively end the Armacost majority on the Sequim City Council.
Under Sequim’s “weak mayor” system of governance, the mayor is first elected or appointed to the city council, then appointed to the position of mayor by fellow council members. In this instance, Armacost’s term as mayor runs through the end of 2021, but his term as a city council member extends to 2023.
This trend in Washington state also played out nationally this fall, with candidates espousing conspiracy theories reportedly running for a range of local offices, from school boards to city councils, often without disclosing their more controversial views.