City councilman Hyer seeks job with county

Olympia: Hyer also can be Thurston treasurer

December 23, 2009 

OLYMPIA - Joe Hyer, who won re-election to the Olympia City Council last month, has announced that he will run for Thurston County treasurer in the 2010 election. Hyer is considering holding both offices, which is allowed under state law.

He said he would talk with supporters before deciding whether to leave the council. “My values say I don’t quit anything I start,” he said.

Pat Mason, senior legal consultant for the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, said he is not aware of any conflict that holding the two jobs would pose. A treasurer does not set policy, he said.

“You can’t hold two offices within the city government at the same time, but you can hold two offices that are unrelated,” he said.

Some offices would be incompatible, in the center’s opinion, he said. For example, someone who is simultaneously a city council member and a county commissioner, port commissioner or school board member. Counties regularly do business with cities, and there could be conflicts over zoning issues, he said.

Mayor Doug Mah said it is premature to talk about Hyer’s service on the council if he’s elected treasurer. But he said he’s not aware of any council protocol that would prevent him from holding both offices.

“From a legal standpoint I don’t believe there’s a conflict for him to hold elected office,” he said. “We would want to make sure there’s no potential conflict if his election bid is successful.”

Hyer touts his experience. He has served on the Olympia City Council since being appointed to a vacant seat in August 2004. He was elected to a full four year term in 2005, and another in November. He also owns an outdoors outfitting business with two locations in downtown Olympia.

Hyer has been deeply involved with the city’s budgeting process and has been the chairman of the city’s Finance Committee since 2007. In addition, he’s the treasurer for the Thurston County Democrats.

“It seems like just the skill set the county might need,” Hyer said.

“It’s kind of a perfect fit for my background in the private, public sector.”

Hyer said if he takes the seat, he will give up day-to-day management of his business to his managers.

He said he decided to go for the position because it’s a rare opening. Current County Treasurer Robin Hunt, who has served for nearly 12 years, has said she will not run again. Hunt’s position will pay $105,276 this year, according to salary information The Olympian obtained in August.

“Robin’s done an admirable job,” Hyer said. “It’s one I want to walk into.”

One or two other Democrats had thought about running, but said they wouldn’t if Hyer would, he said. “I’d been asked by several Democrats that were on our executive committee to consider this,” he said.

If elected, Hyer said he would improve customer service and look for efficiencies, such as streamlining investment pools between the state and county. He also wants to crack down on delinquent property tax payers.

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