Thurston County sheriff's Lt. Debbie Mealy has conceded the race to be Thurston County sheriff to her independent opponent, Deputy John Snaza.
As of Friday, Snaza had 54.6 percent of the vote to Mealy’s 45.4 percent. In an interview Friday, Snaza said he is excited about getting to work and that he will have more details about his plans in the coming weeks. He said he is humbled and looks forward to winning over the 40,000 or so of Mealy’s supporters in the election.
He said his top priority will be following up on his campaign promise to put more sheriff’s deputies on the road and more corrections officers in the jail.
“Those are the two things I’ve said I’m going to do, and I’m going to do it,” he said. Snaza also said he wants to hold town hall meetings with residents, and he said he will meet with the entire Sheriff’s Office and map out his vision.
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“It’s important that people understand what my visions and goals are,” Snaza said. “We’re going to be making a lot of changes, and people are going to want to know how they’re going to be affected.”
He said he has consulted with current Sheriff Dan Kimball and intends to strive for openness and transparency.
Snaza, 45, is a Navy veteran and two-time winner of the Sheriff’s Office’s Lifesaving Award. He is community service deputy for the Sheriff’s Office and commander of the Thurston County SWAT Team.
On Wednesday, Kimball, who decided last year he would not seek re-election, sent an e-mail to all Sheriff’s Office staff members saying now is the time for the office to move on in unity in the wake of an election that pitted two members of the same department.
Kimball, who has run as a Democrat, supported Snaza in the election, as did former Thurston County Sheriff Gary Edwards, a Republican.
“Elections are hard. We should acknowledge that it is perfectly fine to be impassioned and to be disappointed, just as it is to be excited, with the outcome of an election,” Kimball wrote in his e-mail to staff members. “However, once it is over, it is imperative that we put it behind us and move on.”
Snaza said he has received congratulations from many deputies who had supported Mealy and that the department’s success depends on its employees and personnel.
“I know we’re all going to be able to work together,” he said.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org