Editor's note: All answers were written by the candidates and have only been lightly edited for format.
Incumbent Thurston County Commissioner John Hutchings will face six challengers in the primary election set for Tuesday, Aug. 4.
Our story on the race can be read at the link below, but we've also included the complete answers to a questionnaire sent to each candidate which can also be found below.
Ballots in both Pierce and Thurston counties have been mailed out and are due back the day of the primary election, Aug. 4. Voters in both counties can update their registration online up through July 27, or in-person through 8 p.m. the day of election.
The top two candidates that garner the most amount of votes will move on to the general election in November.
Thomas Bolender was the only candidate who did not return a completed questionnaire for this race.
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Name: John F. Hutchings
Amount Raised: $12,319
Occupation: Thurston County Commissioner
Current Residency: Olympia, WA (Unincorporated part of county)
Party Affiliation: Independent
Elected Offices Held and Dates: Thurston County Commissioner 2017-Present
Educational History: Master’s Degree: Organizational Leadership/Development/HR
Fulbright Scholar (2007/2008)
Professional History: 35-year veteran law enforcement. Executive leadership.
Why do you want to serve on the Board of Thurston County Commissioners? There is quite a lot of work yet to do to see our County through this pandemic and its fallout. I will lead with sound policy and partnerships to grow our economy, get people back to gainful employment and provide opportunities for greater prosperity. Getting through the various phases of recovery, decidedly and diligently, takes experience.
What do you believe should be the highest priorities of the BoCC and how would you like to see the board work with the county to address these? Budget. Economic recovery and community health.
The County’s budget demands constant attention especially with the drastic loss of revenue caused by our economy being closed. Re-starting our economy is critical to county revenue, job creation and attracting business to Thurston County.
As we recover, our community’s health will need monitoring to be on top of any resurgence or surge in infections. This includes mental, economic and physical health. It requires testing sites, testing material, monitoring our hospitals and keeping on-going dialogue with the public.
Attracting entrepreneurship and other business to the County, is key to our success. It is vital we protect our environment, to include our prairies, lakes and outdoor spaces. The BoCC will need to work closely with the Economic Development Council, Thurston Chamber, workforce development organizations, legislature, local cities, tribal partners, and non-profits to navigate this territory new to everyone.
If elected, what will you and your experience bring to the board? I bring proven leadership, successful relationship building and critical thinking. Being the incumbent, I know first-hand what this position demands and as such I bring experience. Research, written and verbal communication traits are strengths.
Finally, I bring grace-under-fire. I believe in open and transparent government and participation with the citizenry. Many people have good ideas worthy of discussion and consideration. I am inclusive of others and have devoted my life in service to others.
How will you work with county staff and other local jurisdictions in the months and years following the coronavirus crisis to ensure the overall well-being of your constituents is being looked after? I have been working with County staff in amending building and permit ordinances to accommodate citizens and professionals. As we rebuild our economy, I continue with my work with the Economic Development Council (of which I am a board member) and the Thurston Chamber, non-profits and other private sector organizations to attract new business and assist currently struggling businesses. Thurston County is providing funding along with local jurisdictions to Thurston Strong, an organization consisting of public/private/non-profits, designed to help local businesses. Government should provide services to individuals, businesses and organizations, then get out of the way.
I communicate weekly, with the City Mayors, to keep up momentum, creativity and relationship building to assist each other’s citizenry through the pandemic. We have shared goals and interests and must continue to talk and work for the common good.
Our PHSS Director and I are in constant contact as well with our County Health Officer, with health updates, strategies and plans for our immediate and long-term future. Protecting our population and energizing our economy are not mutually exclusive. A healthy economy needs healthy people.
Is there anything you would like to see the county do to help those who have suffered, either financially or health-wise, from the crisis? The County is receiving numerous federal and state grants. Some of them can be broadly used and many are very restrictive. The County is working with several non-profits and cities to provide sufficient shelter options for our homeless, those exiting jail and mental health facilities.
We are providing funding for our food supply chains via food banks to get food and hygiene products to those in need.
The County is investing in Thurston Strong to assist businesses and people through grants and scholarships, for women and small business.
The county has encountered significant budgetary shortfalls in recent years. What would you do to help strengthen the budgeting process, especially in the wake of expected revenue shortages due to COVID-19? We are currently in discussions and making the necessary decisions to account for a $5M gap in our budget due to a significant reduction in sales tax revenue. Curbing spending is the obvious plan since revenue will be severely reduced. Yet, this is not the only solution. The decisions being made will impact everyone to include our citizens through reduced services. I am doing what I can to mitigate a reduction of services and remain fiscally responsive.
Where do you stand on the county’s decision to pursue building a new courthouse? Are you in favor of the new location? Are you in favor of the board’s decision to rescind the vote from the April election? The courthouse is a non-issue currently. Early on I lead the discussion to remove the issue from the August ballot. It was obvious our citizens were going to be financially impacted by the pandemic.
The courthouse initiative was very divisive and expensive. The perfect combination to have the citizens vote and tell their government what they valued. Our courthouse has gone past its useful life. The facility has numerous shortfalls and will not be sufficient to meet the demands of an increased population. The issue does not magically go away. I look forward to fully vetting a secondary plan to address the needs of the courthouse once our economy has been restored well down the road.
What do you believe the BoCC is doing right at this current moment? The BoCC is scrutinizing every line of the budget, leading our county successfully into Phase 2 of our economic recovery, maintaining the community health, streamlining services in order to reduce cost and redundancy and protecting our environment and prairies. We are awfully close to having our Habitat Conservation Plan accepted by US Fish and Wildlife. This will be of great benefit to people wanting to build or remodel and do what they would like with their property.
The county is maintaining an open and transparent form of governing. We live stream all our meetings, YouTube and archive our meetings, invite people to conference call into our meetings, email or phone us to get in touch with their commissioner. The meetings are on the county website, too.
Where can voters learn more about you?
You can write to:
Re-elect John “Hutch” Hutchings
700 Sleater Kinney Rd SE Ste B-208
Lacey, WA 98503
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Name: Carolina Mejia
Amount Raised: $32,034
Occupation: Judicial Assistant
Current Residency: Olympia, Thurston County
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Elected Offices Held and Dates: N/A
Bachelor Degree in Business Administration, Christian Brothers University Memphis, TN.
University of Washington, William H. Gates Hall School of Law.
I was unable to complete my law degree due to financial hardship, an issue well known to many.
The County Commissioners sit as a quasi-judicial body and the majority of my work experience has been in the field of law. My personal, educational, and professional experiences in law and finance will guide my approach to complex issues addressed in public office. Since 2015 I have held the position of Judicial Assistant for Thurston County Superior Court; Through this position, I have been exposed to and am competent with civil, criminal and family law. I also know the inner workings of the county and I am familiar with each department.
As an undergraduate student at Christian Brothers University, I worked as a Legal Assistant and managed criminal defense and immigration matters. During and after Law School, I worked at an immigration/personal injury firm as a Law Clerk and later as the Office Manager. As the Office Manager I took the firm from a financial deficit to a surplus in revenue.
Why do you want to serve on the Board of Thurston County Commissioners? As a young professional, a mother of two girls and a resident of Thurston County, I feel compelled to address issues affecting not only my family, but Thurston County residents and our environment. I have a strong desire to serve our community and enhance its richness and diversity.
What do you believe should be the highest priorities of the BoCC and how would you like to see the board work with the county to address these? Budget: The criminal justice budget needs to be reassessed. I am not proposing cuts to the current budget, but I am proposing accountability, transparency and increased oversight within the departments. Thurston County cannot afford to continue going into a deficit. We need to prioritize needs to create a viable, practical plan. We need to take urgent action to ensure we are replenishing our rainy-day fund. It is also equally important for us to boost our agricultural economy with incentives. We can do this by proposing strategies to encourage farmers to protect natural ecosystems beneficial to them and others.
Affordable housing: Finding a balance between urban growth and rural protection from overdevelopment is essential. Considering the complexities of the housing issues within Thurston County, we need to take a holistic approach to completely understand how unaffordable housing is affecting our community. We must come up with ideas and solutions that will address the issues head on and help keep Thurston County thriving. Reducing obstacles to secure housing and creating opportunities for affordable homeownership/rental are just the first steps needed to address the issue. Crippling high property taxes are prompting families of all walks of life to leave this great county because of the financial burden these taxes are placing on them. We need to find more innovative ways to produce revenue in our county, instead of always relying on placing taxes or levies on the people who can’t afford it.
Environment: We must review current public policy for needed changes in order to develop and draft new policies based on respect and justice for all residents. This should include respect for sovereign land, communities of color, and the acknowledgement and respect for the treatises and agreements with the Indigenous people. Promote the responsible use of land and resources in the interest of people and other living beings, while simultaneously promoting economic and structural growth.
If elected, what will you and your experience bring to the board? My educational and professional backgrounds along with my personal experiences have taught me valuable lessons that will be instrumental in guiding my work. I bring new ideas and a fresh set of eyes to the table with the goal of creating and sustaining a diverse, inclusive and thriving community.
How will you work with county staff and other local jurisdictions in the months and years following the coronavirus crisis to ensure the overall well-being of your constituents is being looked after? It will be more important than ever to work with the county staff and local jurisdictions to reinvigorate the community and our economy after this crisis. It is important that we work as a unified body in order to ensure the overall well-being of our communities that are at the forefront of our efforts. We can enable our success by bringing everyone together, and not leaving any local jurisdiction behind. Making County Meetings more accessible for the general public would be a key attribute to this success. Ensuring that the BoCC can hear from its community members, and not only a select few that can make it during work hours, will also be a marker for success.
Is there anything you’d like to see the county do to help those who have suffered, either financially or health-wise, from the crisis? Before we can assist our community, we must conduct a thorough assessment to determine where our efforts can make the greatest impact. Many of our residents have suffered due to the pandemic, and by taking this approach we will know what resources are readily available to those affected; This will also help us determine what resources we need to acquire to help ease the burden and suffering within our community. Increasing the knowledge that these resources are available and ensuring the ease of access to the resources needed will be more important than ever. One of the biggest frustrations that a person in need can encounter is the running around from government office to government office trying to get assistance. With local jurisdictions and the county working together, we can make the process easier and assist more of our community.
The county has encountered significant budgetary shortfalls in recent years. What would you do to help strengthen the budgeting process, especially in the wake of expected revenue shortages due to COVID-19? I will promote fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency to deficit spending and be clear on what is being funded. Oversight of each department's budget is necessary and placing an emphasis on accountable spending with departmental leaders is crucial. Base budget adjustments need to reflect critical needs while considering cost effectiveness. The budget should be prioritized and funded as such. During the past couple of years, we have depleted our surplus funds, and as a result the county does not have additional funds to rely on in a time of crisis. We must take action to correct this.
Where do you stand on the county’s decision to pursue building a new courthouse? Are you in favor of the new location? Are you in favor of the board’s decision to rescind the vote from the April election? I am an employee of Thurston County Superior Court and I cannot give my opinion or thoughts on this matter due to the employee Judicial Code of Conduct and Ethics Rules. However, I believe an elected official has an obligation to their constituents and to do what is in the best interest for the community.
What do you believe the BoCC is doing right at this current moment? The BoCC has followed the Governor’s Order to Stay Home and Stay Safe.
Where can voters learn more about you? Voters can learn more about my candidacy through my website: www.carolinaforthurston.com or Facebook page, Carolina Mejia for Thurston. I host a weekly online virtual conversation, Coffee with Carolina, that invites various community members to participate in conversation and education about social issues affecting our communities. The virtual online conversations can be accessed through the campaign Facebook page, Carolina Mejia for Thurston or on our website, and are every Saturday at 10 a.m.
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Name: Bud Blake
Amount Raised: $20,920
Occupation: Retired US Army/Self-Employed
Current Residency: Thurston County
Party Affiliation: Independent
Elected Offices Held and Dates: Thurston County Commissioner 2015-2018
Educational History: M.S. Human Resources Management; M.A. Organizational Leadership
Professional History: Served 25 years in the US Army, four years County Commissioner, two years as Chair, Thurston-Mason Behavioral Health, LLC, currently the Interim Director at Great Rivers Behavioral Health – Administrative Services Organization
Why do you want to serve on the Board of Thurston County Commissioners? I am a “people-person.” It is important to me that people are listened to, not just heard. I work for you. I hold myself accountable and my integrity is non-negotiable. My vision is to generate a Thurston County that you, your family and neighbors are proud to work, live and play – leave it better than we found it.
What do you believe should be the highest priorities of the BoCC and how would you like to see the board work with the county to address these? By far, to have policies that are the least restrictive instead of the most restrictive. This helps families, businesses, staff and sends a single the County is friendly yet maintains compliance. The mission is to prioritize and deliver quality services while demonstrating transparency in Public Safety, Land Use, Public Health and Roads/Bridges.
If elected, what will you and your experience bring to the board? For the people of Thurston County and the county staff, I bring strategic and operational expertise in routine and emergency situations – the ability to look ahead and understand the current situation. The budget is of the utmost importance. I have been the lead and managed large budgets up to $2B in my previous career with outstanding efficiency ratings. Your tax dollars must benefit you and the community, not a politician’s agenda. Period.
How will you work with county staff and other local jurisdictions in the months and years following the coronavirus crisis to ensure the overall well-being of your constituents is being looked after? I will develop a task force which will provide a 12-month recovery and exit strategy. While health professionals have diligently delivered remedies concerning the coronavirus issues, the county health department must increase public engagement telling the path to success and understand the impact to businesses. Simultaneously, the same spirit and focus must be on the business community. Retention of existing businesses is absolutely vital. They will need community support and resourcing to regain momentum. And, business owners are smartest to develop a safety plan for their facility, staff and customers.
Is there anything you’d like to see the county do to help those who have suffered, either financially or health-wise, from the crisis? By far, the county “needs to be available” to help.
Under emergency legislation, the commissioners could reduce, delay fees and shorten the timeline for businesses to start or operate. The county should work with the community and businesses to build grants or loans for the most vulnerable small businesses as part of an emergency recovery package, even if the amount is nominal. Supporting businesses is the quickest path to recovery.
The county has encountered significant budgetary shortfalls in recent years. What would you do to help strengthen the budgeting process, especially in the wake of expected revenue shortages due to COVID-19? There is a long list of programs that can be reduced or cut. These programs are nice-to-have, but not a priority – especially with a countywide emergency. Priority based budget is the best approach, in routine or emergency conditions, and still deliver services. I would develop a voluntary Citizen Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC) – besides having governmental panels. Currently a CBAC doesn’t exists. The process needs people who have “everyday experience” in making tough business, family and community decisions and to give real insight on the direction and outcomes of the county budget.
Where do you stand on the county’s decision to pursue building a new courthouse? Are you in favor of the new location? Are you in favor of the board’s decision to rescind the vote from the April election? The decision to put the Courthouse on the ballot in April 2020 to raise your taxes, to raise nearly $300M, is considered a “rush to failure”. Politics and egos drove that decision and it almost became a boondoggle. I recognize there are real safety and functionality concerns. But many different options exist to mitigate these issues – that cost next to nothing! I plan to re-instate those options and provide a safe, innovated courthouse for the people and employees definitely not costing $300-$500M. In short, farmers, businesses and families have to “figure it out”, so do county electeds.
What do you believe the BoCC is doing right at this current moment? The current commission is bogged down in idle decision making, producing more restrictive policies which cost time, money and frustration among the people of Thurston County. The attitude at the commission is wait-and-see methodology compared to an adaptive and pre-emptive leadership style. My leadership, in these modern times, uses resources of accurate data, state of the art technologies and unique social innovations to prosper. I am committed to having a standard of excellence for the People, Environment and Economy by which every county desires.
Where can voters learn more about you? Now, more than ever, Thurston County needs leadership that stands above political bickering and leads with a purpose to unite a stronger feeling to “leave Thurston better than the day before”. Those who know me and to those who will come to know me, … I am firm, tough love and no non-sense, while equally compassionate with a hug, handshake and a smile – empathy to all. My door is always open to you or I will visit you. In the interim, you can visit my web site at www.electbudblake2020.org.
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Name: Rory Summerson
Amount Raised: $17,644
Occupation: Service Management
Current Residency: Olympia WA, 98502
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Elected Offices Held and Dates: Precinct Committee Officer 219, June 2019 - Current
Educational History: Associates Applied Science - Automotive Technology (SPSCC), Bachelors Business Management (WGU - In progress)
Professional History: 12+ Years Customer Service & Service Management.
Why do you want to serve on the Board of Thurston County Commissioners? The Commission is one of the most important county level offices in Thurston. County Commissioners are responsible for the creation and review of ordinance, resolutions, review and approval of budgets, appointments to advisory boards and committees, amongst a long list of other responsibilities – going as far as sitting in a quasi-judicial capacity.
In terms of the scope of influence and the long term impacts of the Commission's decisions, I believe it is important that we bring in younger generations and include their voice in our collective future here in Thurston County. Younger people will bear the impacts the longest, and deserve some representation in such matters.
I believe I am uniquely positioned to speak to the needs of younger generations, socially and economically marginalized communities, and bring them diversity in representation using the powers of the Board of Commissioners. I live the experience common of many working-class Thurston residents and feel these challenges have given me a greater ability to hear and bring to the forefront the needs of those less included – from every segment of our society.
What do you believe should be the highest priorities of the BoCC and how would you like to see the board work with the county to address these? The BoCC needs to prioritize the needs of the people in a way that balances both the short and long term. The working class, small businesses, unhoused persons, marginalized communities, youth, and rural populations face great struggles in our everyday lives. We bear the burdens of systemic inequity and stagnant wages. We are disparately impacted by decisions that favor large developers and special interests. We lack the influence to meaningfully participate in the economy and we are often the first to suffer the negative consequences of environmental issues.
The Commission has a need for new voices to guide the discussion towards serving these under-served segments of our community here in Thurston. The Board should be looking at avenues to expand access to critical services including healthcare. The Commissioners have a responsibility to provide for infrastructural needs to address our housing crisis, growing economic problems, and environmental concerns. The board should immediately take steps to stabilize the county budget; expand affordable housing; provide Internet access as an equalizer; and demand well-studied, properly funded, actionable plans for conservation and restoration of waterways and green spaces.
If elected, what will you and your experience bring to the board? I will bring experience working with diverse populations in difficult situations. I will bring the experience of youth and renters – those still working towards stable housing and their first home purchase – their needs, and their priorities. I will bring a focus on, and fluency with, the needs of the less heard. I will bring experience in bids and contracting from a small business perspective. I will bring experience navigating compliance and regulation.
I have many years’ experience in a variety of professional and collegiate environments while advocating diversity and inclusion for all. It is my deep desire to hear the concerns of all residents and create solutions to those concerns. I am resolved to make Thurston work for all of us.
My education and work have given me a skill set centered around diagnosing problems, taking corrective action, and planning strategically for the long-term. I bring an ability to look at where we may be ten, twenty, thirty or forty years from now and plan accordingly. On the Board of County Commissioners, I will vote for balanced budgets, responsible governance, expanded housing, equitable public access, and environmental health.
How will you work with county staff and other local jurisdictions in the months and years following the coronavirus crisis to ensure the overall well-being of your constituents is being looked after? I will work with county staff and local jurisdictions to bolster collaborative discussion, action, and forward planning. Together, we will work towards fostering an environment where people in Thurston are no longer falling through the cracks by encouraging and helping to streamline governmental response, accountability, and transparency.
With the support of Thurston County staff and cooperation of adjacent jurisdictions I envision solidifying safety nets and relief programs for those impacted most by coronavirus, and implementing new programs where necessary. I will work with County staff to create new works and jobs programs to revitalize our economy and provide for economic mobility for Thurston residents and our neighboring counties, across all demographic boundaries. It is my hope that we can emerge from this crisis with a more robust local economy that works better for all of Thurston County and the greater area.
Is there anything you’d like to see the county do to help those who have suffered, either financially or health-wise, from the crisis? I would like to see the county provide whatever assistance and relief is available to the fullest extent. Social and emergency services are guided by the county. Funding from Social Service Block Grants and from the Federal government or their subsequent disbursements to counties from the state are designed to flexibly address the needs of our communities.
These grants help to fund early childhood development, senior services, health services, and a variety of other infrastructural needs that may be affected by Coronavirus. The county should direct as much of these grants and related funds as possible to serving those impacted. Counties can help to offset costs for households and prevent further impacts. Counties may also be able to assist small businesses through funding sources such as the Community Development Block Grant.
The county should look at all means available to bolster services such as meal delivery, emergency transportation, services for the disabled, adult protective services, home based care, health services, employment services, childcare and housing stability. Beyond this, the county needs to address future budgetary and funding concerns relating to our regressive taxation system to enable long-term viability of programs and services.
The county has had significant budgetary problems in recent years. What would you do to help strengthen the budgeting process, especially in the wake of expected revenue shortages due to COVID-19? I would start by addressing reporting and cost analysis in various departments – advocating for further review and collaboration between departments. I would like to see the commission set out a plan for all departments to engage in zero based budgeting reviews to ensure spending matches needs for each department. All departments should be held to the same reporting and timeline standards.
There also needs to be more timely response to predicted budgetary shortfalls. Counties cannot take on debt like the federal government can, nor can they call upon the Federal Reserve to create funds. As such, departments within the county must be accountable to their approved budgets and modify programs as necessary to not exceed those budgets.
Where do you stand on the county’s decision to pursue building a new courthouse? Are you in favor of the new location? Are you in favor of the board’s decision to rescind the vote from the April election? I am concerned about the process by which we arrived at a decision for a new courthouse, the bids and contracting involved, and the options provided. That said, I believe that – due to lack of appropriate maintenance funding and planning up until now – that we in fact do need a new building.
We must protect the health and safety of workers and guests to our facilities. But I also agree that the courthouse was appropriately rescinded from the April election. We simply do not have the capacity within the workforce, nor the budget, to proceed as things currently stand.
What do you believe the BoCC is doing right at this current moment? Attempting, in good faith, to balance the recommendations of health care authorities with the needs of our economy.
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Name: David Gaw
Amount Raised: $13,466
Occupation: Project Manager
Current Residency: Olympia, WA
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Elected Offices Held and Dates: NA
Educational History: M.S., Management and Leadership, Western Governors University; B.S., Energy Systems, The Evergreen State College; A.A., General, South Puget Sound Community College.
Professional History: Secretary of the Board, Thurston Climate Action Team (TCAT); Project Manager, Labor & Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH); Pacific Northwest Utility Representative: Emerging Technology, Commercial, and Residential Advisory Committees; Energy Efficiency Manager, Cowlitz County PUD; Principal Investigator, Washington State University Energy Program; Sonar Technician, US Navy.
Why do you want to serve on the Board of Thurston County Commissioners? I believe we need an engaged Commissioner willing to bring in the community voice of our smaller cities and rural communities. I want to see changes that reflect the integrity of county programs and services, as well as accountability of your tax dollars. I grew up, and am raising three children, in our local rural areas. So often the voices of our smaller cities and rural communities are left out or overlooked, and I want to ensure that is never again the case. We can have a future together, where we can collaborate on solutions that make sense for all citizens in Thurston County.
What do you believe should be the highest priorities of the BoCC and how would you like to see the board work with the county to address these? The county budget responsibilities will be my first priority. We need better systems to evaluate program efficiency and effectiveness within our community. The impacts of the pandemic will be unprecedented, but with my expertise, innovation and collaborative mindset to work with all of Thurston County’s local and city governments, we can get through this together and make it out stronger than before. I will ensure we are maintaining a safe and healthy community, balancing prosperity economically and environmentally, as we find opportunities to mitigate the impacts of the virus on our local small businesses and on our most vulnerable neighbors. I will also be focused on sustainable economic growth, a continued growth management plan for the county, affordability, and green building as we move forward and engage with all residents and businesses of Thurston County. It is vital that we protect our clean land, clean water, and green spaces, while also expanding so that our County can continue to prosper.
If elected, what will you and your experience bring to the board? I bring extensive leadership experience managing large budgets ($20M+) and large teams of people; designing and deploying programs and services nationally and locally that are designed to transition prior programs and services to be more efficient and effective; researching technological advancements and finding innovative solutions in government settings; continuing a record of proven results and successes; and maintaining a work ethic that demonstrates my commitment to you and our community.
How will you work with county staff and other local jurisdictions in the months and years following the coronavirus crisis to ensure the overall well being of your constituents is being looked after? We will enable a more robust communication plan to keep leadership in our county and other local jurisdictions informed, and I will work with leadership and staff internally and externally to ensure we have alignment for our collective mission to keeping our communities stable and safe in these challenging times. I have already interviewed with city, county, and state officials to find out their vision for our community and how we can work together to make it a reality. This will entail leveraging our resources, money, programs and services so we can still operate while preventing unnecessary tax increases. Additionally, I will bring an effective strategy to engage with constituents to incorporate your insights and ideas into the decision-making process.
Is there anything you’d like to see the county do to help those who have suffered, either financially or health-wise, from the crisis? Fortunately, we have strong and smart communities in Thurston County who are actively working to mitigate the impacts this virus has on our community. We will need to continue developing strategic partnerships in order to support residents and businesses who have been impacted financially or medically. I have experience from the mortgage/banking crisis and that recovery effort, that will help us make the necessary connections to state and federal relief programs so that we can lift up our citizens in this trying time. This experience can help facilitate the direction we need to go as a community, to provide these services and create a framework for our county and state’s future success. Health-wise specifically, we need to protect the vulnerable individuals in our community and provide the safeguards necessary to prevent further transmission of COVID-19. This includes investing in and providing appropriate PPE, working with medical professionals locally to get access to increased testing, and creating and maintaining improved safety/health measures as we wait for a safe treatment solution to be developed for the virus.
The county has encountered significant budgetary shortfalls in recent years. What would you do to help strengthen the budgeting process, especially in the wake of expected revenue shortages due to COVID-19? I will bring in a proven, successful evaluation system that looks at the benefits and value to the community of specific programs and services. This system will look at the effectiveness of programs and services and the critical component of human health and public safety to assess what is critical to keep and what can be cut back. This enables us to plan effectively under crisis situations and will provide the indicators necessary to make adjustments that prevent overspending.
Where do you stand on the county’s decision to pursue building a new courthouse? Are you in favor of the new location? Are you in favor of the board’s decision to rescind the vote from the April election? I respect and agree with the Board of Commissioner’s decision to rescind the vote from the April election. Our county and its residents are undergoing a major crisis medically and financially, and it isn’t the right time for a special election vote. That being said, I believe that there will again be a right time, and that there is a justification for such a facility. I have been in those buildings in the early 1980s and have been in there as of late. There are significant security and safety issues that need to be addressed, that put our county staff and citizens in harm’s way medically, physically, and emotionally. The buildings have surpassed their reasonable life and will be more costly to taxpayers if we don’t act now. This vote won’t go away, it will simply be extended and will become more costly as time goes on. But, with the current crisis, it is not feasible nor responsible to place such a burden on us as a community. We will need to evaluate under better economic conditions and find a way to reduce the burden on taxpayers before operations and maintenance costs become a burden we cannot afford.
What do you believe the BoCC is doing right at this current moment? I think the current Board of County Commissioners’ approach to managing the COVID-19 crisis, maintaining the use of data and information to understand and inform the public, and being patient with the transition strategy are key successes to date.
Where can voters learn more about you?
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Name: C Davis
Amount Raised: $1,500
Age: Over 21
Occupation: Landlord, Online marketing, previous 23 years Information Technology, Owned 2 antique stores.
Current Residency: Olympia, Washington.
Party Affiliation: Republican
Elected Offices Held and Dates: Treasurer, Bigelow Highlands Neighborhood Association.
Educational History: Bachelors of Mathematics, TESC
Professional History: Information technology, programming, data molding, project management.
Why do you want to serve on the Board of Thurston County Commissioners? When I moved to Olympia 27 years ago, this was a clean, safe, friendly place. Over that time I have watched it go mad, with sewage from homeless camps pouring into creeks, streams and Capitol Lake. I have seen the level of violent crime skyrocket, fueled by unimaginable drug abuse and people caught up in endless ideological warfare. I want the Thurston County that was. If not now, when? If not me, who?
What do you believe should be the highest priorities of the BoCC and how would you like to see the board work with the county to address these? The highest priority right now is getting Thurston County back to work. We will be facing the most severe budget shortfall in history. People need jobs! We need to fast track our building industry and make the permit process swift and painless. We must balance our budget without raising taxes, this means making hard choices.
If elected, what will you and your experience bring to the board? I believe my unique background makes me ideally suited for this position. My information technology experience demonstrates my ability to function logically and solve problems. One of my specialties was efficiency, I can streamline processes and make them work better with less resources. My experience in small business means I know how debilitating unnecessary regulations can be. I can also work with limited budgets. It means nothing for someone to brag about managing $2 billion budgets, it’s easy to get things done with that much pork, I can work with $100,000, $500,000 budgets and get IT DONE! I am from the private sector, I am one of us.
How will you work with county staff and other local jurisdictions in the months and years following the coronavirus crisis to ensure the overall well being of your constituents is being looked after? Restoration of our economic strength is my #1 priority. I believe that people must make their own health decisions. I encourage businesses to look to telecommuting, where applicable, as a means to improve people’s quality of life, reduce pollution, minimize traffic and provide more family time. In this age of technology work at home is something we should have looked at decades ago. Farms, ranches and even community gardens are important resources especially in times of emergency. The county must make sure that we do not over burden these resources with excessive taxes or zoning restrictions, so that they remain viable parts of our county.
Is there anything you’d like to see the county do to help those who have suffered, either financially or health-wise, from the crisis? I want to create jobs, that’s number one. I would delay all tax foreclosures for 3 years, no one should lose their property because a mad governor prevented them from working or shuttered their business.
The county has encountered significant budgetary shortfalls in recent years. What would you do to help strengthen the budgeting process, especially in the wake of expected revenue shortages due to COVID-19? The county has be running a budget deficit for more than 4 years, balancing a budget is not the hardest thing, but it must be a priority, which clearly it hasn’t been for previous commissions. In order to recover from the economic collapse that we will experience after months of not working, no commerce, and related lost tax revenue, we will need to make hard choices. First, we will have to cut unnecessary and lower priority items from the budget. Second we must slash regulations that keep businesses away from Thurston County. We must generate jobs and build housing. This will happen from streamlining the permit process. I will balance the budget with economizing and growth NOT more taxation.
Where do you stand on the county’s decision to pursue building a new courthouse? Are you in favor of the new location? The taxpayers of Thurston County don’t need a $300 million tax burden. We don’t need a new courthouse, we need to fix the one we have AND maintain it properly. Neither this board, nor the previous board did ANYTHING to maintain the existing courthouse. This is just IRRESPONSIBLE. If the county needed to expand, which it doesn’t, it already owns AMPLE land adjacent to the existing courthouse.
Are you in favor of the board’s decision to rescind the vote from the April election? The board selected the April special election because most people don’t vote in special elections. They had hoped to slip the new “courthouse scam” by with less attention. But as they saw that blowback was mounting and the people were angry they rescinded.
What do you believe the BoCC is doing right at this current moment? Putting the new “courthouse scam” on the ballot, was the right thing to do, so that the people could summarily reject it. However, two members of the board (and one candidate/previous commissioner), knew that such a rejection would be political suicide. But since they have withdrawn the issue from the ballot, they have nullified the one good thing they might have done.