3 officials not running

At least three Thurston County elected officials will not seek re-election next year in what is being characterized as an atypical wave of departures in county government.

Assessor Patricia Costello and Treasurer Robin Hunt said Friday that they would retire from public service. Sheriff Dan Kimball previously announced that he would not seek a second four-year term.

Coroner Gary Warnock and Auditor Kim Wyman said they will seek re-election.

Prosecuting Attorney Ed Holm, who has held the post since 1999, and County Clerk Betty Gould, serving her fifth four-year term, did not reply to phone messages seeking comment Friday.

Officials said there typically are one or two departures each election cycle.

“Right now, you have a number of elected officials that are ready to retire,” Wyman said.

Both Costello and Hunt, 54, will have served 12 years in their jobs when their current terms expire.

Costello, who sets property values for tax purposes, said she had vowed to retire at 70.

“I’m still in good health, and it’s time,” she said. “It’s been a positive experience here though as county assessor. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I have a great staff and I’ve enjoyed working with them.”

Hunt, responsible for the county’s tax collections, said it was time to explore a different opportunity after 30 years of public service.

Their announcements come during a difficult year in which elected officials have had to lay off employees or reduce services to the public as county government grappled with a large budget shortfall.

Costello said the year was stressful, but that wasn’t a factor in her decision to retire.

“I can’t blame it on that,” she said.

County Manager Don Krupp said the pending turnover signifies a period of change for county government.

“From time to time, fresh faces step into these roles, and they often have new ideas and new approaches that they want to carry out,” he said.

The three District Court judges also are up for election next year. Susan Dubuisson, the court’s presiding judge, said she hasn’t decided whether to run. She was appointed to the bench in December 1984.

Her colleagues, judges Brett Buckley and Samuel Meyer, said they would run again. In November, voters elected Meyer to finish the unexpired term of former judge C.L. “Kip” Stilz, who died last year.

All eight Superior Court judgeships are up for election in 2012, as are the two other commission seats.

The winner of the race in November between Commissioner Karen Valenzuela and challenger Patrick Beehler will run again next year for a four-year term. Valenzuela was appointed to hold the seat until voters could decide who would finish the unexpired term of former Commissioner Bob Macleod. He resigned in December for medical reasons.

Christian Hill: 360-754-5427