MONTESANO — The county’s largest employee union says it’s ready for a change in leadership of county government and has endorsed Republican Wes Cormier over incumbent Democratic Commissioner Terry Willis. It also endorsed Democrat Frank Gordon over Republican Allan Shores for an open seat on the commission.
Should Cormier win, it would be the first time in county history that Republicans would hold a majority on the board of county commissioners. In 2010, Commissioner Herb Welch became the first Republican to win a commission seat in more than a generation.
Plus, with incumbent Commissioner Mike Wilson ousted in the primary, it would make for a relatively new commission with two newcomers and incumbent Welch, who has just two years experience under his belt.
Local 275 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees conducted an endorsement meeting with its members and brought all four of the candidates in for an interview last week. The union represents Courthouse employees, as well as those who work in the County Administration Building. Many haven’t seen a wage increase in years and a good chunk have actually had their salaries reduced this year through temporary layoffs shutting down administrative services on certain days.
Union President Matt Ancich said he stayed neutral in the endorsement talks, serving mainly as referee among his union members. Ancich said he still has to work with the incumbent commissioners and wants to keep up a good relationship.
“The body of the union is feeling the same sort reaction that the bulk of the general public is feeling, that maybe it’s time to try different leadership,” Ancich said. “This is a big step for us.”
“This is a sign of how the county employees feel for their bosses and the way they’re managing the budget,” Cormier said. “I think morale varies from department to department, at this point, but overall a lot of people are not happy with how the budget has gone.”
Cormier is as an appraiser in the Assessor’s Office and a former shop steward in the union. Ancich said many of the union members know and like Cormier already. The union typically endorses Democrats, but has endorsed Republicans before.
Four years ago, the union endorsed Willis’ Republican challenger Ken Estes for the commission seat Willis ultimately won.
Ancich said union members had positive feelings for both Gordon, an Aberdeen City Councilman who owns Gordon Electric, and Shores, a retired Grays Harbor PUD lineworker.
“They’re both good candidates and will listen carefully to our concerns,” Ancich said. “For the union, the decision to endorse Gordon is because we feel he’s really easy to talk to. We appreciated his style.”
Gordon said he appreciates the endorsement.
“This is a good thing for me and the candidacy,” Gordon said. “I had a fun time answering their questions.”