Alexander gets message on his jobs

August 9, 2013 

Deputy Thurston County Auditor Gary Alexander, and who also is a nine-term state lawmaker serving the 2nd Legislative District is congratulated Tuesday afternoon after being chosen by the Thurston County Commissioners to replace Kim Wyman as county auditor.Wyman was elected as Secretary of State in the November elections.(STEVE BLOOM/staff photographer)

STEVE BLOOM — Staff photographer

Gary Alexander made the right decision. By announcing that he will not seek re-election to the Legislature, Alexander has clearly signaled his commitment to retaining his appointed position as Thurston County’s auditor.

Thurston County Commissioners selected Alexander last fall to fill the vacancy created by former auditor Kim Wyman’s election as secretary of state. He was the best choice considering his 12 years as deputy auditor and 25 pervious years as a budget and program manager with the state.

But his appointment raised the question of whether he would continue serving in the state House. He’s in the middle of his ninth consecutive term, currently representing Legislative District 2.

Some, including this newspaper, have concerns about lawmakers holding multiple elected positions. There’s no law prohibiting holding two posts, and legislative offices are considered a part-time occupation.

Many state lawmakers hold down other full-time jobs, if they aren’t retired or independently wealthy, though all but one work in the private sector. Sen. Tim Sheldon, who also serves on the Mason County Commission, is the lone exception.

Alexander has taken the high road, going further than some of his critics demanded. He might have satisfied most critics by stating he would step down from the Legislature if elected to the auditor position. But Alexander said he would give up his House seat win or lose this fall.

That’s a big gamble for a 17-year veteran of the Legislature who rose to become the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. But it shows how serious he is about continuing to serve Thurston County.

It’s more important, perhaps, that Alexander has shown consideration to the public perception that “people don’t want you to hold both (elected jobs).”

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