Democrats narrow picks for county treasurer

Olympia: Group selects Hyer as nominee

January 26, 2010 

The Thurston County Democratic Party on Monday night named Olympia Mayor Pro Tem Joe Hyer as its top nominee to become county treasurer.

Incumbent Robin Hunt announced last month that she had taken a new job and will not complete her term, which ends in December.

The state constitution requires the political party the elected official is affiliated with to forward the names of three nominees to the county commissioners. The commissioners will appoint one of the three nominees to finish the unexpired term.

Precinct committee officers nominated individuals to be considered for the temporary appointment at a meeting Monday at the County Courthouse. Each officer then ranked the nominees on the ballot, with the top choice receiving three points, the second choice two and the final choice one.

Hyer received 170 points. Noah Crocker, who works in the state Treasurer’s Office, earned 135 points. Heather Highmiller, a precinct committee officer from Scott Lake, received 73 points.

Jim Cooper, the party chairman, forwarded Monday night the names of the three nominees to Sandra Romero, the County Commission chairwoman.

County Manager Don Krupp said Monday afternoon that the commissioners would schedule time at a future work session to discuss the selection process. The commissioners cannot select a new treasurer until Hunt leaves office, which she has said would occur around March 1. They will have 60 days to fill the office after the vacancy occurs.

Whoever is appointed would need to win election in November to continue in the office for four years starting in 2011.

Before the vote, each nominee sought the support of precinct committee officers in brief remarks.

Hyer touted his budget and political experience as a small-business owner and Olympia city councilman, including three years as its finance committee chairman. He also noted he’s been a loyal and active Democrat for years.

Thurston County will see significant turnover next year as several county officials will not seek new terms, including assessor, prosecuting attorney and sheriff. Hyer said his name recognition and experience will allow the party to preserve its limited resources so it can work to elect Democrats to those other offices.

“We need to be ready out of the gate to run a campaign,” he said.

Crocker noted his experience managing two state programs that issue tax-exempt debt so state agencies can buy equipment and property. He praised Hyer’s service but said he’s the only candidate with current treasury management experience and said he would stay focused on the treasurer’s job if appointed.

“I’m committed to doing this job,” he said. “This is a full-time job that requires a full-time treasurer.”

Hyer is considering holding both positions if commissioners appoint him treasurer. State law doesn’t bar an individual from holding two unrelated public offices.

Highmiller was the last nominee, and her inclusion was intended solely to provide commissioners with a third name. Highmiller said she didn’t have Hyer’s experience and urged the precinct committee officers to nominate him.

Christian Hill: 360-754-5427

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