MONTESANO — Grays Harbor County Commissioner Herb Welch made it clear Monday that he was not going to run for re-election.
Welch had said last month that he would likely bow out of running for re-election next year, but realized that left a crack in the door that might lead some to think he would still run.
“To the two people out there that haven’t figured it out, I’m not going to run next year,” Welch said.
Welch said he tried to drop heavy hints that he wasn’t going to run but some members of the Grays Harbor Republicans were reluctant to look for candidates without knowing for sure. Welch became the first Republican to win a county commissioner seat in a generation when he defeated incumbent Al Carter by just 71 votes. It was so close that there was even a machine recount of the election.
Carter has already made it clear he wasn’t going to try for another term in office. At this point, there are just two potential contenders — Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines, who declared her candidacy last month; and Hoquiam Councilwoman Jasmine Dickhoff, who says she’ll make a firm decision early next year.
Raines declared herself a third party candidate and says she’ll list on the ballot she prefers the “Nonpartisan Party,” a political affiliation she has created, noting during her 14 years in Cosmopolis government she’s never been elected anything other than non-partisan. Dickhoff is a Democrat. Without Welch, the Republicans don’t have a candidate yet.
Welch just recently got out of a medical bed and into a wheel chair and started attending county commission meetings in person again. He says he relies on his wife to drive him to Montesano.
“For my wife, my amazing Dolores, I just can’t bring myself to do another term,” Welch said. “She’s been amazing, but she is looking forward to a serious retirement for me. And so am I.”
Welch said he still plans to complete the rest of his term.