Mayor’s embrace of QAnon roils the politics of Sequim

Sequim, a small city recognized for its summer time lavender competition and its above-average ration of sunshine for the Pacific Northwest, is now drawing darker nationwide consideration as house to a mayor who has promoted irrational QAnon conspiracy theories.

William Armacost was chosen mayor by the Sequim Metropolis Council a yr in the past . Final summer time, in a “Espresso with the Mayor” chat broadcast on native radio he declared QAnon a “reality motion” and inspired listeners to look at on YouTube a particular QAnon conspiracy video.

The video, subsequently taken down by YouTube however nonetheless accessible on the web, is anti-Semitic, anti-intellectual and histrionic. It guarantees a “struggle of biblical proportions” to rid the world of an evil international conspiracy run by an elite class riddled with pedophiles — a cabal that’s introduced as the reason for the whole lot dangerous on the planet together with crime, struggle, homelessness and poverty.

It tries to persuade viewers with extra baseless costs that each U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has been a “deep state legal” and {that a} secret group of fine guys within the navy is about to avoid wasting the world with Donald Trump as their nice chief.

That final bit could also be outdated now.

Interviewed by CNN Thursday, Armacost refused to cross judgment on these conspiracy theories. As an alternative, he denied he had ever explicitly “endorsed or mentioned I used to be a QAnon supporter” and mentioned he had merely inspired individuals “to hunt reality.”

Shenna Youthful, who helped discovered a residents group to advertise good governance in Sequim, mentioned its 500 energetic members are very involved about Armacost’s “QAnon ideologies.”

“This isn’t indicative of who we’re. It’s a small minority,” Youthful mentioned. “This highlight is damaging our tourism and our companies.”

Judging {that a} recall of the mayor can be expensive, her group is targeted on the November election and goals to exchange three Metropolis Council members aligned with Armacost.

Armacost couldn’t be reached Saturday. He didn’t reply his mobile phone and its voice mailbox was full.

Recruited in a conservative push

Armacost has by no means been chosen in a contested election by the individuals of Sequim.

He was helped into public workplace with the help of a Clallam County group run by two distinguished native Republican activists that promotes “conservative/populist” candidates.

He was appointed to the Metropolis Council in 2019, held that seat in an uncontested election, then was appointed mayor by a vote of town council — which presently is usually appointed, not elected.

Town, on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula, has simply over 7,000 residents.

In November’s presidential election, town voted 56% for Joe Biden and 41% for Trump. Nonetheless, the encircling rural neighborhood is overwhelmingly Republican. Final summer time, indicators supporting Republican Loren Culp for governor predominated within the space.

Matthew Randazzo, who lived in Sequim for six years till 2012 and was then the chair of the county Democratic Occasion — he nonetheless has property there and retains connections within the city — described the outlying neighborhood as “a strong, outspoken conservative inhabitants that’s attempting to pull town authorities in its route.”

He mentioned the group that helped get Armacost into workplace has been recruiting candidates for nonpartisan our bodies that don’t get a lot consideration.

“They’ve exploited this lack of consideration and the result’s an extremist and apparently unhinged metropolis council majority” in its help of Armacost, mentioned Randazzo.

He mentioned Armacost has been very open, even flamboyant, about his QAnon beliefs, flaunting them on social media posts.

“However I don’t suppose he’s alone,” mentioned Randazzo. “He’s the tip of an iceberg, of a radicalized conservative base all throughout the nation.”

Resisting pandemic restrictions

Armacost runs a salon & spa enterprise in Sequim and can be a consultant of Juice Plus+, a multi-level advertising scheme that sells vitamin dietary supplements.

Juice Plus+ was formally cautioned by the Federal Commerce Fee in June for false promoting claims that its merchandise may stop COVID-19 an infection and make its representatives wealthy.

Armacost shares the resistance of many on the suitable to authorities recommendation on COVID protections.

In August he traveled to the annual bike rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, which drew greater than 450,000 individuals and the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention recognized it as triggering chains of transmission to different states.

On his return to Sequim, which has a excessive share of older retirees, Armacost declined to self-quarantine.

“It isn’t required of me both by science, regulation, expertise or customized,” he defined in a letter to the Sequim Gazette.

Final week, political strife within the city reached a pivot level when the mayor moved behind closed doorways to oust longtime metropolis supervisor Charlie Bush.

With a powerful resume of metropolis administration positions, Bush was recruited from Issaquah to handle Sequim greater than six years in the past.

When a furor broke out after Armacost’s QAnon remarks on the radio broadcast final August, Bush issued an announcement with the mayor saying it was inappropriate to have made these remarks in the middle of conducting metropolis enterprise.

“Any responses to questions reflecting the private opinion of the Mayor don’t mirror coverage positions of the Sequim Metropolis Council,” Bush acknowledged in that launch.

In that assertion, Armacost didn’t disavow his feedback, however dedicated sooner or later to maintain his “private life separate from my skilled life.”

Bush declined to remark Saturday.

The political warmth in Sequim rose over the previous yr when an opioid remedy clinic being constructed by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe deeply divided the neighborhood’s liberals and conservatives.

Bush’s granting of permission for that clinic appears to have been the ultimate impetus for the mayor and his Metropolis Council allies to oust the supervisor.

On Monday, after a closed-door govt session, the council handed a movement to request his resignation, in what the native Peninsula Day by day Information described as “what guarantees to be an costly” leave-taking.

A neighborhood petition to retain Bush as metropolis supervisor had collected greater than 1,500 signatures by Saturday.

Armacost’s excessive political views have sharpened what was for a very long time a typical rural/city divide between conservatives and liberals and now displays the deeper tensions which have riven your complete United States because the election.

5 days after an offended mob of Trump supporters — prominently together with QAnon believers — violently blasted previous police strains this month to ransack the U.S. Capitol, one native Sequim resident who gave his identify as Josh requested Armacost at a Zoom Metropolis Council assembly to publicly surrender QAnon.

“I don’t prefer to be represented by terrorists,” Josh declared.

Armacost ignored the plea for a public denunciation.

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