Derek Sanders Leads in Race for Thurston County Sheriff Against Incumbent John Snaza


In the race for Thurston County sheriff, incumbent John Snaza trailed behind challenger Derek Sanders on election night, with the vote count sitting at 44.87%, or 29,138 votes, for Snaza and 54.69%, or 3,517 votes, for Sanders. 

The next vote tally will be announced on Wednesday. 

Sanders is a deputy currently serving under Snaza at the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO). Having previously served in the Lacey Police Department, Sanders chose to run to get people talking about issues he felt got ignored. 

If he wins the election, Sanders plans to create a civilian advisory board to improve sheriff’s office transparency and to focus on improving deputy retention within the office. 

Snaza was originally elected sheriff in 2010, and following successful re-election bids in 2014 and 2018, was seeking his fourth four-year term as sheriff. 

Originally a Gulf War veteran from Rochester, Snaza has worked in law enforcement for 30 years. His twin brother, Rob Snaza, currently serves as sheriff in Lewis County. 

Snaza made public safety a priority and addressed the worsening opioid epidemic during his campaign. 

In the August primary, Sanders earned 52.17% of the vote to Snaza’s 47.11%. 

The election cycle has created some controversy between the two candidates including accusations that Snaza may have been involved with an internal TCSO investigation into Sanders earlier this year. 

Snaza denied any involvement with the investigation and maintains it was carried out legally in accordance with TCSO policy and procedures. The Public Disclosure Commission is currently investigating the matter.