Democrats stand with Hyer

Olympia: City councilman's arrest does not make him guilty or unfit for office, says political party

February 22, 2010 

OLYMPIA - Joe Hyer, the Olympia councilman who faces accusations and possible charges in connection with selling marijuana, will remain the top choice of the Thurston County Democrats' executive committee for interim county treasurer.

“We have fulfilled our constitutional obligation,” said executive committee chairman Jim Cooper, after the county executive committee released a prepared statement. “We’re not withdrawing our list. We have no reason to.”

Hyer’s political fortunes took dramatic turns last week.

On Tuesday, the county commissioners chose Hyer, who is also Olympia mayor pro tem, to fill in the rest of outgoing county treasurer Robin Hunt’s term. She leaves her elected post March 1.

Two days later, Hyer was arrested on suspicion of selling marijuana after a monthlong investigation by the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force. Thurston County Sheriff Dan Kimball said a confidential informant bought marijuana from Hyer during two controlled buys.

Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Jackson told The Olympian that he plans to make a decision this week on whether to charge Hyer.

County commissioners contacted last week said the arrest puts Hyer’s appointment in jeopardy.

On Sunday, Hyer said that he would not make a public comment on the matter. He also has said he will take a couple of weeks of personal leave before making political decisions.

State law requires Hunt’s party, the Democrats in this case, to nominate three people to finish her term. The county commissioners must choose from those nominees.

Hyer received the most votes. The other two nominees are Noah Crocker, who works in the state Treasurer’s Office, and Heather Highmiller, a precinct committee officer.

The party will not submit a new list unless it is required to, Cooper said.

“Until we have seen specific charges and evidence against him, it is the position of the Thurston County Democrats’ … executive committee that Joe Hyer is innocent until proven guilty and only he, the county commissioners, or the judicial system can make the choice as to whether he is qualified to serve as county treasurer,” according to the prepared statement.

If any of the of nominees are deemed unfit to serve by themselves, by the county commissioners or by court action, that the party is required to start the nomination process over, the statement said.

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Go to www.theolympian.com to find the full text of the statement by the Thurston County Democrats executive committee.

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