The Grays Harbor Republican Party recently sent a letter to the Pierce County Council and Kitsap County Commissioners encouraging their selection of Jesse Young to fill the 26th District Legislative seat vacated by Jan Angel after she was elected to the state Senate in November. Young was the top pick by the 26th District precinct committee officers, along with two other qualified candidates who are willing to serve. Any one of the three candidates would serve the 26th District well. However, we believe the precinct committee officers made the right choice when they chose Young for the number-one spot.
This is how this process is supposed to work. The PCOs select three top candidates and that list goes to the constitutionally-ordained governing body to make the final choice.
A similar scenario recently played out in the 2nd Legislative District, which is appointing a successor to state Rep. Gary Alexander who resigned his seat. A vetting committee reviewed all interested candidates and made recommendations to the PCOs. After hearing from the candidates and a few rounds of voting, the PCOs selected three who are good Republicans and willing to serve. Several members of the local parties were in attendance at the meeting and can vouch that the voting went smoothly and fairly. The Washington State Republican Party, on whose executive board I serve, ratified the three candidates and the Pierce County Council, and the Thurston County Commissioners will now make their selection from those three.
It is sad to see how this same process was manipulated, in an underhanded fashion, by another local party with regard to our county prosecutor. I applaud our county commissioners for answering the call and not supporting a sham process that involved sham candidates. And it’s instructive that the state Attorney General’s office has agreed with our county commission’s position on the matter.
Some people have brought up the issue of moving to a county charter as a solution to this recent fiasco. I, personally, don’t support that proposal. The charter structure has been tried in other counties and has generally failed. It leads to corruption on several fronts and, most importantly, it provides no system of checks and balances with regard to appointments to key county jobs. This promotes good ol’ boy politics and nepotism, which we’ve had enough of in this county. Our two-party system isn’t perfect — but it ensures a balance of power and works well when the rules are followed in good faith.
There are two basic kinds of people who are drawn to politics — those who want to serve and those who want to be served. Public officials who are servant leaders act in good faith to do the will of the people — not the will of themselves and their agendas.
I am proud of County Commissioner Wes Cormier and Montesano Mayor Ken Estes who have — in different situations —stood their ground and brought to the attention of the people of Grays Harbor failed processes, bad actions and sleazy patronage in local politics. They were correct in their assumptions and have come out on top. We should all be proud to call them our public leaders.
Beth DeVaul is the Grays Harbor Republican Party chairwoman.