Chelsea Krotzer reports in The Olympian:
“The Thurston County commission unanimously chose 2nd District lawmaker Gary Alexander to replace newly elected Secretary of State Kim Wyman as county auditor.
The decision was made during the commissions Tuesday afternoon meeting.”
“The third candidate, Yelm Mayor Ron Harding, pulled out of the running Monday, citing the desire to focus on ‘several high impact issues still unresolved’ in Yelm, according to a letter addressed to the commissioners.
‘I feel that even though becoming the next auditor would be a great honor, leaving my responsibilities as mayor at such a critical time would not be honorable,’ Harding said in the letter, citing the citys various road projects, water rights and the citys park master plan.'”
After two high-profile & top-headline, front-page stories in the Nisqually Valley News on January 25 and 18 quoting a robust Mayor Harding, plus an interview with the commissioners on January 22.
Why would the mayor withdraw the day before the commissioners were to choose an Auditor?
He knew about all of the city’s projects before & after he accepted being on the list!
Could the reason be the Assistant State Auditor just advised the City of Yelm they completed an audit after a “hotline referral” from this writer about an appearance of a conflict of interest on Mayor Harding’s part in May, 2010?
He was the then-Treasurer & President-elect of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and Mayor of Yelm and “brought a proposal to the chamber board to purchase an electronic sign” to rent to advertisers and be placed on a city-owned easement at the corner of Killion Rd. & Yelm Ave.
As Nisqually Valley News Editor/Publisher Keven Graves said in his May 21, 2010 Op-Ed:
“As mayor, Harding has the potential to knowingly or unknowingly ‘grease the skids’ for the chamber in this process.”
“I believe the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest can be every bit as damaging as a genuine conflict of interest.”
The State Auditor’s results of the City of Yelm audit were outlined to me as follows:
A. Mayor Harding should have –
– identified publicly and to the council he was on the Yelm Chamber Board of Directors when the Chamber’s sign discussion(s) occurred.
– recused himself of any and all Chamber sign discussion(s), allowing Mayor Pro-tem Isom to conduct this discussion, as council member McGowan does by example on all library issues, as he is a TRL employee.
3. “bent over backwards” to prevent any and all appearances of a conflict of interest.
This has been communicated verbally with the city by the Auditor’s office.
B. The City of Yelm did not properly follow procedures requiring a city of Yelm’s size to publicly post any contract details the city proposes over $10,000.
The State examined city procedures & conducted an audit of the city in 2012.
I did not hear from them until now and thought they had just ignored my letter.
Such was not the case. They meticulously examined all facets of the city’s operations on this issue.
The State Auditor is therefore sending a letter to the city to remedy these issues in the future, which will also be posted on the State Auditor’s website, for the public’s welfare.
Klein was a Yelm mayoral candidate in 2005, running against Harding.