History, politics, people of Oly WA

Thurston County home rule, STOP Thurston County and diluting political influence

One thing I’ve been wondering about STOP Thurston County, a local franchise of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, is why they’ve focused with such laser intensity on particular environmental rules. I’d assume that if these rules were up for a county wide vote, they’d pass.

I mean, across the entire county, Thurston County is pretty liberal. And, the reason isn’t necessarily that Thurston is liberal to the core. It literally matters how you carve up the county.
If Thurston County were to pass a home rule charter and create more elective districts, you could see how the balance of power in the county could change. Currently, all three seats on the Thurston County commission are held by Democrats. And they were elected by an average vote percentage of 56 percent.
Using Dave’s Redistricting Tool (which has a county level redistricting option based on 2010 census data) you can start coming up with options. Here is what a five seat county council might look like:

Here is the Democratic vote in the 2010 U.S. Senate election (Murray-Rossi):

  • Olympia 70 percent
  • West Thurston 52 
  • North Lacey 54
  • South Lacey 54
  • Yelm/Tenino 49
So, the geographically small urban district is still largely Democratic, but every single other district is balanced. If Republicans did everything right, you could easily see a 4-1 advantage on a county council.

Here is what a seven district option looks like:

Again, the Democratic percentage in 2010:

  • Northwest Thurston 65
  • Olympia 68
  • West Lacey 58
  • North Lacey 52
  • South Lacey 50
  • Yelm Tenino 48
  • Rochester 46
So, in this option, you have three strong Democratic districts and then four which are balanced, with an equal number of those leaning Democratic or Republican. So, in a “Republicans do everything right” scenario, you could have a 4-3 advantage on a county council. On the other hand, in a Democrats do everything right, you have a 6-1 or 7-0 advantage.
I made a couple of assumptions that could be played with with these maps:
  • I will admit to trying to game the map by a little by keeping Olympia as whole as possible, thereby not spreading Democratic influence across the northern districts. But, I was just trying to illustrate how home rule would spread influence. You can download the .drf files I linked to under the maps to change my assumptions.
  • I also assume that the way county leaders are elected would change from a in-district vote in the primary and a county-wide vote in the general to in-district all the way
Either way, both scenarios show how creating more representation on the county level (more than our three current commissioners), you dilute the Democratic influence across the county. If STOP Thurston (arguably the most vibrant county level conservative movement in a decade) worked on governance issues, they could change the rules to make it more likely they could change the rules.


  1. Anonymous

    There might be even more important reasons for the vibrant nature of Stop……

    Who funds them?
    Freedom Foundation (used to be Evergreen Freedom Foundation……
    whos funds THEM??? Walmart, Exxon, and other big corporations…..

    who do you think is really trying to get more republican representation in your local elections…?The big businesses trying to utilize thurston county without environmental controls….the whole reason the Stop group was created…

    (by the way the PC guy of the Stop group adamantly says they are non partisan)

    Look deeper….this is the face of fake tea party Patriots…

  2. Emmett

    Yeah, duh. That's what I meant when I said they were the local franchise.

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