History, politics, people of Oly WA

Category: thurston county Republicans (Page 1 of 2)

If you’re a Republican in Thurston County, shouldn’t all these Independents bother you?

If things go a certain way, it is possible that come January Thurston County will have three commissioners that are not Democrats for the first time in my memory.

But, none of them would be Republicans either.

Admittedly Bud Blake (elected two years ago), Gary Edwards (who was a Republican in the past and might be elected this year) and John Hutchings (also might be elected this year) could easily be Republicans. But, this year they’re all Independents. And I don’t think I’ve heard a good explanation as to why.

As much as I’d like to ask Edwards why he ditched the Republican Party, I think I know the cynical answer. Blake showed that a conservative could be elected countywide if they ran without the Republican name.

But, mostly I want to hear from Republicans. And, I know how hard it will be for me in particular to get answers from Republicans given my point of view, but I’m honestly interested. I’ve spent the last few weeks poking around various online forums and communities for local Republicans and have come up short.

Shouldn’t conservative candidates run as Republicans? Even if they disagree with 20 percent of the Republican platform, there is enough “big tent” in the party to contain them right?

If you are a Republican, and feel so inclined, fill out this short survey (LINK).

EDIT: Emmett, do more research. Gary Edwards should tell the truth about who is responsible for the Tyson Seafood plant purchase

Well, when I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I was wrong about this one.

From the Olympian in 1999.

My research stopped in 1998 soon after the purchase of the property when Oberquell and O’Sullivan both made steps to move forward and Edwards was largely silent. If I took one more step into 1999, I would have seen organized and vocal opposition by both commissioner O’Sullivan and Sheriff Edwards.
I still think there’s a point to Commissioner Oberquell being involved in the original purchase of the old seafood plant. And, I think Edward’s implies too heavily that the plant was purchased under the leadership of the current commission. But, that said, I was wrong.

Gary Edwards, now candidate for county commission, gives a long-winded interview to a local conspiracy theorist. It includes this small little gem about a listless county commission, stumbling into a multi-million dollar problem:


Gary, you’re so smart. Only if we’d listen to you then. Or your supporters.

But, it turns out that not only was Edward’s complicit in the purchase of the Tyson Seafood plant in the late 1990s, but two of his supporters help guide the purchase and early development.

First though, I should back up and say that Edwards glosses over the legal situation the county was in at the time, by simply saying “I was running an overcrowded jail.”

Back in the late 90s, the Thurston County jail wasn’t just overcrowded. It was beyond that, it was inhumane. To the point that the ACLU was pressuring the county to improve the conditions in the jail. Edwards was running a bad jail.

In a letter from that era from the ACLU:

As long ago as 1996, we reported to you some of the complaints that inmates relayed to us. These included:

  • severe overcrowding, with many inmates forced to sleep so close to toilets that they were stepped on or urinated on by other inmates
  • poor sanitation and lack of access to hygiene supplies
  • infrequent changes of clothing and linen
  • denial of prescribed medications and lack of treatment for health care
  • limited indoor or outdoor exercise areas
  • lack of access to a law library
  • inmate kites or grievances not answered
  • broken plumbing and poor ventilation

Most of these problems were directly attributable to overcrowding. We received complaints from corrections officers as well as inmates, who also expressed their concerns that the dangerously overcrowded situation made their jobs unreasonably dangerous due to the enhanced risk of injury from assault, fire, and communicable disease.

So, as a way to push back against overcrowding, the county commissioners spent $3.8 million to buy an old fish processing plant only a few miles from the current county jail.

So, who was on the county commission then? Diane Oberquell, who is listed as an Edwards supporter, Judy Wilson and Dick Nichols (both Republicans). When Edwards was serving as county sheriff at this point, he was also a Republican.

And, since even satellite jails take time to develop, the Tyson plant (though purchased by this point) was still a topic in 1999. By this time Nichols had retired from the commission and had been replaced by Kevin O’Sullivan. Commissioner O’Sullivan was part of the county commission (along with Wilson and Oberquell) that continued to push for the use of the Tyson plant as a jail. O’Sullivan also currently endorses Edwards.

I can’t find anything in the record during those years Edwards speaking up against the Tyson plant purchase. In fact, what I did find was advice by the sheriff’s office to move forward despite growing public opposition to the plan.

Here is a portion of county commission minutes that show not only one of Edwards’ undersheriffs pushing for the Tyson plant, but also Oberquell.

When it came time to decide whether to purchase the seafood plant that Edward’s now criticizes, it was his supporters and employees were at the helm. Also, as county sheriff, he was in a choice position to publicly call out what he says now was a horrible waste of money.

By being vague about it now Edwards seems to hint that the current commission (the longest tenure of which didn’t begin serving until 2000) is at fault. But, when you scratch the surface just a little bit, the people now surrounding Gary Edwards first dug the Tyson Seafood plant money pit.

Improving Gary Edwards’ math

A few weeks ago I took a shot at Gary Edwards’ fuzzy math on population change in Thurston County. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the deeper assumptions in what he’s trying to get at.

His point (basically) was that although the population has increased in Thurston County, the number of deputies has stayed the same. The problem was that the population has increased (in unincorporated Thurston County) only half the amount he claimed. Which is okay, from his point of view, I suppose because population still went up while the number of deputies stayed flat.

But, that statement seems to assume a result, such as an increase in crime. So, let’s take a look.

1995 Most recent Difference
Lacey 50.00 64.60 14.60
Olympia 67.80 86.30 18.50
Yelm 75.90 78.00 2.10
Tenino 86.00 42.00 -44.00
Tumwater 75.30 84.20 8.90
Thurston unincorporated 32.90 36.30 3.40

So, what it looks like here is that the crime rate did go up in Thurston County, but not nearly the rate that it increased in Lacey and Olympia. If we have a problem with an increase in crime, its in the urban areas, not in rural Thurston County with its stable level of policing.

Also, let’s take a look at another metric, the total number of police in each Thurston County city and the ratio of police to population:

1995 total 2015 total Change 1995 ratio 2015 ratio Change
Lacey 38 50 12 1.51 1.08 -0.43
Olympia 67 68 1 1.8 1.33 -0.47
Yelm 9 12 3 4.3 1.47 -2.83
Tenino 5 2 -3 2.38 0.87 -1.51
Rainier 4 0 -4 2.78 0 -2.78
Tumwater 20 22 2 1.93 1.41 -0.52
Thurston unincorporated 79 80 1 0.72 0.57 -0.15

Every police department has seen a decrease in the number of police on patrol compared to the population. By this metric, the ratio of police per person has dropped the least in the Thurston County sheriff’s office than anywhere else locally.

So, while Edwards is still right that population went up and the level of policing stayed stable, he’s implying a connection that really isn’t there. The Thurston County sheriff’s department saw a stable cop to resident ratio (compared to other local law enforcement departments) and this did not result in an increase in crime. 

Also, here’s the spreadsheet (plus references) I was working from all along, just in case you want to check my math.

Checking Gary Edwards’ Math

Former Thurston County Sheriff Gary Edwards is running for county commissioner. So, it would make a lot of sense that he’s making public safety (more cops on the streets, or deputies on the road) a campaign priority.

Number two in fact:

I can’t disagree with his statement that the number of deputies hasn’t increased in over 20 years, but I thought I’d check his population numbers.

As I’ve been reminded, the Thurston County Sheriff only works in the unincorporated parts of the county. So, “the population” that his statement refers to must be the unincorporated population. Otherwise, the statement wouldn’t be unnecessarily inflated.

But, either way, he’s wrong.

1995 Most recent Difference
Thurston 192,013 262,388 70,375
Lacey 26,419 44,919
Olympia 39,292 48,338
Yelm 2,242 8,223
Tenino 1,299 1709
Rainier 1,350 1,923
Tumwater 11,534 18,820
Incorporated subtotal 82,136 123,932
Thurston unincorporated 109,877 138,456 28,579

He could use the top number, the total difference between Thurston County in 1995 and right now and be closer to his 60,000 number. But lumping in the populations of cities covered by their own police forces would be misleading.
Or, he could cut his number in half and be more accurate. But, the number would seem less impressive, especially against a six figure total population figure.
What really impacts me is that this table took me all of ten minutes to put together. Getting the accurate number wasn’t hard for me, Edwards should have bothered to do the same work. Not doing so make it seem like to me that this is more along the lines of something he heard somewhere and decided to make a campaign platform.
It is also worth noting that a total population is not a very good standard for judging the effectiveness of policing. What would be a better standard would be comparing crime rates in 1995 and 2016, right?

How Bud Blake won in Thurston County

By basically beating the Grand Old Party in every precinct in the county. Basically.

Republicans tend to lose in this county. Up until now we had a all-Democratic commission and every other elected official was Democratic, save an Independent sheriff.  I assumed going into this race that Blake would do better than Republicans in general, and it turns out he did well enough to win.

Here’s the data I’ve been playing with. I took the three Republican results from 2012 (Senate, governor and President) and averaged them. Then I compared Bud Blake’s performance.

Here’s a chart to illustrate my point:

Basically, what you’re seeing here is Blake beating the GOP turnout everywhere. Even in places where Republicans do horribly, Blake kept a consistent advantage over the GOP performance.
I’m not sure what to chalk this up to. Whether Blake really did perform better as a candidate, so his party label meant little. Or, that the Republican brand in Thurston County that you could take a standard business friendly candidate, strip him of his party label, and he’d win.
But, where exactly was he strongest?

The deeper the red dot, the more votes Blake got against the Republican average.

Basically, again, Blake did better than the average Republican candidate in Thurston County literally everywhere. But, if you were to pick out hot spots, it would be in the outer reaches of Lacey, out towards Fort Lewis.  This would fit the story line that Blake is a veteran. While somewhat new to Thurston County, this is something understood my military families who live close to Fort Lewis.

He didn’t do as well as I would have thought in the northern Hawks Prairie area (assuming military and retired people) but did much better around older southern Hawks Prairie and deeper Lacey. He also did well against the average Republican vote in west and eastern Olympia. Not many actual votes there, but still picking up against the conservative average.

Good old R. Scott, still not being able to read and such

R. Scott, chair of the local loyal minor party, is mad at Karen Valenzuela and a copy editor at the Olympian because he can’t read. He’s mad because he thinks the commissioner’s campaign used incorrect language in a fundraising notice to the Olympian.

In the top part of a notice in the Olympian (also in R. Scott’s own complaint in pdf here), not paid for or written by Commissioner Valenzuela’s campaign, the word “re-elect” is used.
Late in the same notice, the words “Valenzuela, an appointee…” are also used. Can R. Scott read? Does he care?

Shocked! Shocked! Lewis County Republicans would never call anyone a Nazi!

Unless it was like last year.

In response to Rep. Brian Baird’s unfortunate, yet seemingly accurate, “brown shirt” comment, Lewis County GOPer gets all huffy:

The reference to Nazism and the equating of his constituents to Brown Shirts is very offensive, not only to the brave veterans in our state who have fought in wars from Europe to Iraq and Afghanistan, but to all freedom-loving citizens who value their right to express their personal opinions about the actions being taken by their elected representatives – whether or not they agree with them.

Of course, its certainly not offensive when the Lewis County Republicans call you a Nazi.


R. Scott (birther and Thurston County Republican chair) can’t read. Or, when reading, can’t process information.

When he reads this

Mah also urged the audience to consider the timing of his proposal and said that because of the slower economy, “property (for purchase) will never be cheaper.”

Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela disputed that.

Valenzuela, who attended the forum with other elected officials such as Olympia City Council members Joan Machlis, Rhenda Strub and Karen Messmer, said there might be no need to rush because the Port of Tacoma, for example, is having difficulty selling a $22 million parcel in south Thurston County’s Maytown.

Conjures up this:

…then why is Karen Valenzuela trying to purchase more parks? And why in the hell does she want to purchase them for the City of Olympia [read about it here]? She thinks they can get it cheaper, but wants to participate in the purchase.

Saying that anyone who is interested in developing an isthmus park should take their time means she wants the county to participate?

Seems more likely that she’s attended the forum because she’s a local political leader, not because she wants the county to dive into a park purchase.

On the other hand, if R. Scott had bothered to link anywhere else than the Olympian (other blogs?!?), he would have come up with something far more convincing, but still vague enough for him to twist. From Janine Gates’s Litle Hollywood:

Audience member Marie Cameron spoke next, saying she has been a resident for over 30 years and served on the Olympia Planning Commission for six years in the 1970’s and served in a variety of planning positions until her retirement. She now lives in the county, outside the city limits, and feels disenfranchised from the process, and urged the county to step up and be a partner in the portion of property tax it collects.

Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela thanked Cameron for her productive suggestion. “The problem with Mah’s proposal is that there’s only one player at the table.”

Now, you’d have to assume that Valenzuela meant the county as another player, but I’d safely assume she meant the state. But, R. Scott can believe anything he wants, especially since he can just make most of it up.

Will Stakeline, Pat Beehler benefiting from government largess

At least their campaigns are.

It is a sad situation for conservative local candidates. They want to be against big government, but when it comes to finding places for their campaign signs in a town where hardly anyone will put one in their front yard, options are short.

So, instead of depending on their landlord buddies who put campaign signs in front of rundown rental houses, Beehler and Stakelin are putting up plenty of signs on government property. Right-of-ways, that kind of things.

And, the old McKinley Elementary School site near my home at Boulevard and 15th, has four signs between Beehler and Stakelin.

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