Death threats, Robocalls, Ramtha Cash, and Lawsuits. The Thurston County Commission race had something for everyone, and while there were lots of adjectives that could be used to describe this year’s election – “boring” was not one of them.
For the first time since statehood, the Thurston County Commission will have a commissioner majority unaffiliated with either political party. Washington became a state in 1889. Depending on how the vote count trends over the next few days, this will also be the first time that the Thurston County Commission will not have a Democrat elected to the board. This is real political change.
The announcement earlier this year of the retirements of longtime Democrat commissioner incumbents Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero ensured that change was coming to Thurston County no matter what. The only question was what that change would be. Commissioner Bud Blake’s election in 2014 as an independant removing incumbent Democrat Karen Valenzuela from the Thurston County Commission was a sign that traditional political models were changing. Tonight’s results continue that trend.
The challenge, as always, in Washington State is that election night’s results still don’t reflect many of the ballots that will arrive over the next few weeks via mail. However, barring some extreme swing result in the next few batches of ballot counts, it looks safe to say that Gary Edwards will be the new Thurston County Commissioner in District 2. His depth of support was strong from the beginning, and despite being outspent by his opponent and well-funded special interest Political Action Committees, he will be the next commissioner.
The other commission seat in District 1 is still too close to call. Election night results show Democrat Jim Cooper with a tenuous lead of just over 300 votes (out of 89,799 counted) with another 30,000 ballots to go. This was a far cry from the “coronation” that most of the Thurston County Democratic leadership was predicting just a few months ago. John Hutchings is the independent candidate in that race, and it is generally believed that the late ballots are going to trend towards him more than Cooper. The results over the next few days will prove or disprove this expectation. However, assuming he manages to win the other seat – all three Commissioners in Thurston County will be filled by independent candidates. No Democrats and no Republicans.
While it seems unlikely the Thurston County Democratic Party desires to conduct a post mortem on these election results and try to learn from their mistakes, they can’t blame these results on Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The legacy Thurston County Commissioners were all uniquely hostile to a large portion of Thurston County residents and openly arrogant towards these voters – particularly the rural residents. For years, they passed abusive regulation, ignored all objections, and cheerfully ran roughshod over the rural residents of Thurston County. Every opportunity to heap insult upon tax upon regulation was approved unanimously. The Thurston County Democrats cheered everything and never once questioned the abusive policies of the Thurston County Commissioners. Never once.
For years, rural residents and people concerned about property rights, freedom and independance, reasonable budgets, rational decision making, and just asking to be treated like real people were ignored, mocked, and openly ridiculed frequently by these Democrat politicians. One Democrat Commissioner was quoted as calling the citizens of Thurston County who spoke at Commission Meetings and hearings as just so much “white noise.” When local Democrat leaders or politicians would raise concerns and question this abusive and arrogant behavior by the Commissioners, they were drummed out of the party and shunned.
The abuse had been here for years before some of us became aware and engaged in local politics. Over the past six years, we organized hundreds of people to show up at public hearings. Some of us have attended hundreds of public comment sessions over the past few years. We placed thousands of signs showing our concerns throughout the county. We organized town halls. We produced videos and wrote stories. The Thurston County Commissioners ignored us and the Thurston County Democratic Party mocked us and ridiculed our concerns.
Even in this recent election cycle, when we made the state’s smallest PAC expenditure with a handful of Robocalls, we found the Thurston County Democratic Party, the Washington State Democratic Party, and JZ Knight (who donated over $210,000 to the Thurston County Democratic Party over the past two years alone) went into a total frenzy to silence opposition. Our micro robocalls generated two frivolous lawsuits, one frivolous PDC complaint, three cease and desist letters, one death threat, and two temporary restraining orders (one on the death threat Democrat PCO Laurien Weisser, and one very narrowly construed “emergency” order over caller ID).
Local ancient spirit warrior channeler JZ Knight (who channels a 35,000 year old Lemurian warrior named “Ramtha” who has travelled through space and time to enter her brain and tell us to vote for Democrat County Commissioners) largely funded the Thurston County Democrats once again this year. The JZ Knight PAC (Euphemistically called People for Thurston PAC) was nominally run by Jay Manning, the former head of the Department of Ecology, and former Chief of Staff for Governor Christine Gregoire. JZ Knight owns the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Yelm, WA (eastern Thurston County) and uses much of the money given to her by her students to fund the Democrat Party in Thurston County. The $54,000 worth of PAC hit pieces alone targeting Edwards and Hutchings appears to have been wasted funds since at least one and likely both of them will be county commissioners now.
Jim Cooper’s coronation Party may have been cancelled, but ballot tracking is going to be a pastime for political insiders as the next few days of ballot counting is watched closely. Jim Cooper’s wife was conveniently hired to work in the elections office by Democrat Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, and there are concerns that special political treatment may be provided to certain parties.
Times are changing in Thurston County. Election night was a big step towards repairing the mistakes of the past, but also about helping to build a better future for the residents of Thurston County. The hard work is just beginning…
*(Update: Within 12 hours of writing this article, the next batch of ballots were counted – John Hutchings is clearly going to win – leading by over 2500 votes. There are more ballots to count, but they will probably just increase the gap)
Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.” It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people. It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government. It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.” Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed…