GOP sends list of six nominees for District 2 and 3 county commissioner replacements to governor

RaeLynn Ricarte

The Stevens County Republican Party sent Gov. Jay Inslee a list of nominees for commissioner Districts 2 and 3 on Monday, which followed a weekend conference to pick finalists.

There are three names on the list for each district and, once Inslee selects an individual, those two appointees will choose one of the three nominees for District 1. On Saturday, the GOP executive board and Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) gathered at the Chewelah Civic Center to vote on their choices for each of the three vacated positions. The meeting of about five hours was made necessary by the conclusion of a lawsuit in September that rendered Commissioners Wes McCart, Steve Parker and Don Dashiell unable to fulfill their elected terms in office.

Dashiell and McCart were added to the list for their respective districts on Saturday.

Mitch Short, chair of the local GOP, said the choice of the former commissioners was not made as any type of a political statement, but because a majority of Republicans felt confident about the leadership abilities of the two men. He said the governor might not be inclined to appoint McCart or Dashiell because of the recent court judgment against them, but they were still viewed as viable candidates.

“We looked at who we thought would be best for the county and we really feel comfortable with all nine names,” said Short.

Both McCart and Dashiell told the group that they threw their names into the hat because there needed to be continuity of governance during a time of COVID-19 and budgetary crisis. The 21 PCOs who cast ballots ranked their choices for each district. Thirty-one candidates submitted applications for one of the three vacancies, but two withdrew their names the morning of the selection process, said Short.

He said 21 showed up to give a short presentation that accompanied submission of a resume and answers to a questionnaire. The process, said Short, followed that for replacement of serving legislators in the past, with some modifications because the local vacancies involved an entire elected body, topping the list for District 1 was McCart, who is seeking re-election to the seat in the Nov. 3 general election.

Second place went to Cindi White, pastor and small business owner in Deer Park, and third to Les Denison, regional sales manager for Washington’s lottery. In District 2, Mark Burrows, the Chewelah police chief, was the first choice, followed by Carl Taylor, a small business owner, former corrections and Marine veteran, and then Dashiell, who is also a local rancher. Multiple elimination ballots were taken for this position, which involved 13 candidates.

Greg Young, the county’s jail supervisor who is running for election to the District 3 seat, was the top selection. Kendle Allen, retired Stevens County Sheriff, came in second and Bob Gumm, local veteran service officer, in third. Short said Inslee has 30 days to appoint individuals to the two districts, but he was hopeful the decision would be made sooner.

The District 1 and 3 appointees will only serve until the election has been certified on Nov. 24, at which time whey will be sworn into office instead of waiting until January due to the special circumstances.

While the vacancies are in play, the seven elected department heads at the county have been given authority by a state statute to serve as an interim commission and make budgetary and operational decisions. Sheriff Brad Manke is chairing that panel. Dashiell still had two years remaining on his term but replacement rules will require the District 2 appointee to run for the office in one year. In September, the commissioner offices were vacated due to loss of surety bonds after a judge found the three officials liable for the unconstitutional gifting of public funds to two private projects. The suit to have them repay the money was brought forward by Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, who is also a Republican.