Ron Harding: Can a full-time Thurston County Deputy Auditor “impartially” execute his oath of elective office as Yelm Mayor?
The following letter from Steve Craig was published in the Nisqually Valley News on Friday, April 12, 2003 and echoes this writer’s March letter:
“As an active participant in our Yelm community, I am somewhat chagrined by the recent antics of Mayor Ron Harding.
Specifically I am talking about his vying for appointment as Thurston County Auditor, along with two other Republican candidates recruited by the party apparatus.
This was to fill the vacant position left when the former county auditor was elected state auditor. Interestingly, Harding publicly withdrew from consideration at the very last minute citing that it was the honorable thing to do considering his obligations as mayor of Yelm and the many projects that need to be managed at this critical time.
Then, amazingly, local Republican legislator, and himself Deputy Thurston County Auditor, Gary Alexander gets appointed county auditor and turns around and appoints his friend, Harding, to be deputy auditor.
Now, if this isnt an outstanding example of egregious, behind the scenes, backroom political dealing, I dont know what is. Was it legal? Yes it was. Was it ethical and above board? Highly questionable.
And, this is what makes it particularly questionable. First, Harding has no qualifications to be deputy auditor unless being a part-time mayor with a high school education, with no accounting or anything related to it in his background.
He is a carpenter, home remodeler, and from what I understand a pretty good one, but a deputy county auditor? Give me a break. Who wouldnt like to have a cushy government job with full benefits making more than $70,000 a year with no credentials. Oh yes, he has been guided through city budgets by city staff, but that hardly counts in having county auditor responsibilities.
Second, Harding is part time Mayor of Yelm [The Mayor of Yelm post is a part-time position]. Let me repeat that. He is part-time Mayor of Yelm and receiving a very generous salary in that position. So, if he is going to be working full time in Olympia at his second government job, how is he going to fulfill his other part-time responsibilities as mayor of Yelm? Remember, it was the honorable thing to do when he pulled out of consideration for county auditor because of the heavy workload here in Yelm. But, I guess when politics and backroom deals are concerned, honor is secondary.
The final irony is that Harding is a good Republican, and of course opposed to too much government, but in his case, with the money he is making at the trough, he cant get enough of government.
Stay tuned for his announcement to run for Thurston County Auditor, up from deputy, and his leaving Yelm behind. Its the honorable thing to do.”
Ed. Note: So, I am not the ONLY one that sees “Harding’s Folly.”
Reprinted with permission of the letter writer.