After years of having “no party preference,” Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney has officially come out as a Republican.
He was elected as a precinct committee officer for the Grays Harbor Republican Party on the Aug. 5 ballot, receiving 94 votes, or 70.15 percent. Opponent Tracy Horn received 40 votes, or 29.85 percent. Durney will hold the post for two years.
Durney said he was active in the Republican Party in his early years, citing former Gov. Dan Evans as one of his role models in the 1970s and ’80s. He left the party following former President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal, and remained officially nonpartisan as he became involved in local politics, serving as mayor of first Aberdeen and then Hoquiam — both nonpartisan positions.
But partisan gridlock at both the state and national levels prompted him to get involved once again. He said he hopes to bring more moderate people into the party — and argued that local Democrats should do the same thing.
“I’ve been very frustrated about the lack of ability to reach an agreement about things,” Durney said. “I’ve been disappointed with the fact that the two parties get kind of extreme, and I think there’s a huge mainstream and middle ground.”
“I’m hoping to bring more people into the party so that it might be broader in its appeal and reach,” he added.
Durney calls himself a moderate, taking a more liberal stance on social issues and a conservative stance on the role of state and federal government. In this, he once again follows the formula laid out by Evans.
“Back in the ’70s and ’80s when Dan Evans was governor, there was a lot of change with regard to equal opportunities for women,” Durney said. “And there were changes in policy when it came to acceptance of people with different religions and races. And I think that was a lot of important work.”
And while he said he’s OK with strong government in some cases, Durney argued that there are times when state regulations don’t match up with cities’ needs. For example, new marijuana regulations.
“We’re dealing with the marijuana stuff, and all of the taxes the businesses pay all goes to the state,” Durney said. “Not to the local governments that are dealing with it.”
Durney said he hopes holding the position will motivate him to attend party meetings so that he can be an active member.
“I’m just going back to my roots, and doing what I can to bring more people into it,” Durney said.