“Newly elected Thurston County Commissioners John Hutchings, left, and Gary Edwards
will join incumbent Bud Blake, center, to form a commission of independent members.”
Photo credit: Steve Bloom, The Olympian
* What’s your definition of politically Independent?
* After yesterday’s swearing-in, County Commission now with all Independents.
* Edwards & Hutchings got 53.65% and 51.79% of the vote, respectively.
* They also now must represent the interests of the other 47+% of voters.
* Will they embrace cross-party ideals, even though they were Republicans?
* I look forward to the 3 Commissioners performing as true Independents.
* “Local political giants” retiring, women who gave in public service for decades.
* Democrats Karen Fraser, Sandra Romero and Cathy Wolfe leave a mark of leadership.
* All three women of distinction leave outstanding legacies.
* The Yelm Community Blog thanks these women for their commitment to the public.
This blogger views dovetail with these 3 well-written stories in The Olympian.
– “What does it mean to have an independent Thurston County Commission?”
Retired Thurston County Sheriff Gary Edwards and former Tenino Police Chief John Hutchings [were] sworn into office Dec. 28 to replace retiring Democratic commissioners Sandra Romero and Cathy Wolfe. After that, all three members of the Board of County Commissioners will be elected officials who have labeled themselves political independents.
Hutchings and Edwards will join Bud Blake, who was elected two years ago, ousting former Commissioner Karen Valenzuela. Blake’s election brought an end to an all-female, all-Democratic streak on the commission.”
“‘We’ve gone from a pretty liberal county commission to what really is a pretty conservative county commission,’ said former Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican who was elected five times as Thurston County auditor. ‘Part of what happened here was a reaction to thinking they’ve gone a little too far in particular in terms of land use items, and it’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way.'”
“But Thurston County Democrats chairwoman Katie Nelson said she doesn’t believe Edwards, Hutchings or Blake are truly ‘independents.’ She said their campaigns were largely funded by people and organizations that support Republican candidates.
‘I believe they intentionally misled the voters of this county,’ Nelson said. ‘… They are not independents. They are Republicans by every measure,'” by Lisa Pemberton, The Olympian.
– “The Fraser, Wolfe and Romero era is ending”
From The Olympian Editorial Board
“True public service takes commitment. Love of a community. Endurance. A willingness to work with others. And a keen understanding of the public interest.
Three women who made that commitment over decades, who were local political giants, are retiring. The departures of Democrats Karen Fraser, Sandra Romero and Cathy Wolfe end a distinct era of leadership in Thurston County. All three chose not to seek re-election; all leave good legacies.
County Commissioners Romero and Wolfe step into retirement today as their successors — GOP-leaning independents Gary Edwards and John Hutchings — are sworn in.
Fraser, a 24-year state senator, leaves her post in January when Rep. Sam Hunt is sworn in to replace her.”
“But Romero and Wolfe held the line against erosion of other worthy environmental protections. Their successors are clearly less knowledgeable of, or committed to, environmental safeguards, which bears watching in the coming year.
Wolfe and Romero also brought needed focus to South Sound’s naturally fractured response to the mental health and homelessness problems that afflict so many individuals and cities.”
“But all three leaders were part of a surge of women in Washington politics during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wolfe served as a member of House Democratic leadership before leaving for the county commission in 2000. Romero served on the Olympia City Council before going to the state House for 12 years and later following Wolfe to the county.
During the Fraser, Wolfe and Romero era, Washington ranked among the top states for women in a legislature.”
– An excellent summary of the outstanding public service career of retiring Sen. Karen Fraser
“After internship that lasted 50 years, retiring Karen Fraser leaves long legacy of service”
“Exactly 50 years since the internship drew her away from sociology and into government, Fraser is saying goodbye to a long tenure in the Legislature and leaving behind a lifetime of accomplishments in Thurston County. She retires from the Senate in January after 24 years in the office,” by Walker Orenstein, The Olympian.