Commissioner Dysfunction or Clever Tactic? You Be the Judge

After many long weeks of work, Thurston County Democrats discharged their responsibility by sending to the Thurston County Board of Commissioners a list of three candidates to replace Bob Macleod. However, Commissioners Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero were unable even to agree on a process for selecting a replacement from that list.

The top three candidates selected by Thurston County Democrats were:

  • Karen Valenzuela
  • Susan Bogni
  • Walt Jorgensen

Click here to see the final vote results.

Legally, the remaining two commissioners are to select Macleod’s replacement. Failing that, the Governor must make the appointment.

Despite all the work done by Thurston County Democrats, work that included public forums, written applications and responses to questions posed to each candidate (and available online at, Commissioners Wolfe and Romero were unable to come to an agreement as to even how to proceed to discharge their responsibility to the citizens of Thurston County.

It’s now up to Governor Gregoire to select a commissioner for our district.

In a January 8th editorial appearing in the Olympian, editors wrote:

It’s a failure of leadership and Thurston County Treasurer Robin Hunt rightfully blasted the pair for their failure. In an e-mail sent to Romero and Wolfe Wednesday, Hunt said, “I was blown away when I read that the governor has to make the (appointment) because the 2 current commissioners can’t agree. This does not bode well for you 2 running the county when you are unable to come to some simple agreement on a straightforward process. . . . Please do your job instead of bailing as it reflects poorly on our county. We have a tough enough job with the times we are in.”

What the heck happened?

Commissioner Romero advocated for appointing Karen Valenzuela, the top choice of Thurston County Democrats, to replace Macleod for the duration of his term. As reported in the Olympian, “Romero noted that Valenzuela was the top choice of ‘elected PCOs’ and the vote ‘wasn’t even very close.'”

In a phone message, Wolfe said, “I feel it’s my job to pick from the top three choices of the Democratic Party. And they did send us three names and I feel it is incumbent upon us to evaluate those names and pick the next person that will be the best fit.”

Personally, I have to admit that I concur with Robin Hunt’s assessment of the situation. Commissioners Wolfe and Romero should have made this call. They should have come to an agreement on the process in order to execute their responsibility to the citizens of the County. Instead, it appears to me they didn’t even try. I hope this does not presage the level of performance we’ll see from this Board of Commissioners. In any case, it is a most regrettable start.


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  1. Remarkable. 13 candidates, meticulously vetted by their party, and the bonehead Commissioners cannot even come to an agreement as to what procedure to use. These are the Commissioners who are going to make tough choices about the County’s budget?! Oh, woe to all of us.

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