By Tye Menser, Thurston County Commissioner-Elect
Thank you, Thurston County voters, for putting your trust in me.
Over the course of this year’s election campaign, I appreciated the opportunity to meet so many residents of the county, from Jubilee to Yelm to Rochester to Steamboat Island. I learned from each of you, and I am eager to start work as your new County Commissioner.
I also learned how much important work is being done by so many community groups on major issues like homelessness and economic development. I expect to be a partner with these groups as we move forward together to solve problems in Thurston County.
I also want to thank Bud Blake, the incumbent Commissioner, for his four years of dedicated service to Thurston County. The closeness of the vote was a reflection that both campaigns had messages that were important to voters. I will be mindful of this as I move forward to help find solutions to important problems the County faces.
Ultimately, I believe voters were looking for diversity and balance on the County Commission. I represent that diversity — in age, professional background, and political philosophy. Now that the campaign has ended, it is time to focus on what unites us. As the only Democrat on the Commission, I expect to be on the losing end of some votes. I also expect that my new colleagues and I will find common ground as we work together on behalf of Thurston County residents.
Big challenges lie ahead:
Water quality: More than half of our lakes and rivers have severely degraded water quality. Clean water is essential to public health and a healthy environment. We must do all we can to clean up and protect surface waters from pollution caused by stormwater runoff and failing septic systems.
Affordable housing: The county cannot solve the current housing crisis without the aid of our urban cities, where the problems are greatest. I am meeting with the mayors of Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater to discuss how we can better work together on a countywide approach to housing policy. Commissioners must do a better job of collaborating with city governments.
Budget responsibility: Although the new budget will have been adopted by the time I take office in January, I have closely watched budget deliberations and I will advocate for spending within the county’s means and re-building reserves, even when that results in hard choices.
A new courthouse: It’s not a question of if we should replace the existing courthouse, but when. Its buildings are overcrowded and dilapidated. The challenge will be where to build the new courthouse and how to manage costs.
Comprehensive plan update: Commissioners are updating the comprehensive plan, which charts a 20-year course for how and where the County will grow. The decisions we make will have long-lasting effects, particularly on fragile South County prairies and agricultural lands.
There’s hard work to be done. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and joining Commissioners Hutchings and Edwards in working on behalf of all Thurston County residents. Running for public office is both exhilarating and humbling. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
County Commissioner-Elect Tye Menser will take the oath of office in late December. His four-year term begins Jan. 1, 2019.