Posted by Richard Hull on Oct 01, 2018
Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
 Date: 10/1/2018

Today’s Program: Thurston County Commissioner Candidates

Meeting Called to order: by President Dan Lehuta @ 12:25 pm

  • Invocation by: Gloria Strait
  • Pledge of Allegiance led by: Kim Dinsmore
  • Song: “God Bless America”, led by Gloria Strait
  • Four Way Test led by: Warren Carlson

Visiting Rotarians

  • Bud Blake - Gateway - Government
  • Van VanJepmond - Lacey - Real Estate Investments
  • Gordon Kirkemo - West Olympia - Retired

Guests of Rotarians

  • Cindy Hambly, guest of Bud Blake
  • Brad Nielsen, guest and son of Tore Nielsen
  • Former member Jeff Kingsbury, introduced by Dennis Adams

Happy Bucks hosted by Kalo Wilcox

  • Geoff Crooks - thanked everyone who went above and beyond in hosting the visiting New Zealand Rotarians
  • Chuck Fowler - reported on his interesting 3 week jury experience
  • Steve Ryan - is delighted that his family is visiting from Tokyo
  • Skip Steffen - reported data on the poor dental insurance coverage in Thurston County and promoted the 15th Annual Dental Benefit concert at the Washington Center
  • Matt DeBord - reported positively on his experience at the downtown "Sip, Savor, and Stroll," and also was happy to announce that Timberline Bank has acquired South Sound Bank
  • Heather Antanaitis - celebrated her 11th wedding anniversary with a trip to Cirq de Soleil
  • Dick Blinn - reported he and Judy recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary
  • Jill Barnes - reported on the exciting things happening at the Washington Center, including Stephen Stills and Judy Collins playing this week


  • Judy Blinn reminded us all to “wear our bling!” 
  • Warren Carlson has an inquisitive and outgoing rotary exchange student and requests us to invite her to events (her calendar will be posted on ClubRunner)
  • Steve Bean auctioned off freshly baked bread and theatre tickets.

Program: Thurston County Commissioner Candidates

Jewel Goddard introduced Jill Severn as the moderator for the discussion, and she in turn briefly introduced the two candidates, Bud Blake and Tye Menser.

The candidates then had two and a half minutes to make opening statements.  Tye Menser, a graduate of Harvard University and UC Berkeley, spoke of his 20-year legal career in criminal defense and family law.  He wants to bring balance, critical thinking, and to work with people from different backgrounds to address deficit spending, homelessness, and the criminal justice reform.   Bud Blake, the incumbent Commissioner, spoke to his 25-year military career and private sector experience.  He stressed that the diverse communities within Thurston County needs someone who understands them and can balance both economic and environmental concerns.

The first question was on strategies for reducing and preventing homelessness.  Both candidates spoke for the need for more supply.  Bud Blake stressed the need for more efficiencies in the system and a change in mindset.  Tye Menser spoke of the County’s strong five-year plan and the need for renewed purpose in implementation.

The second question was on criminal justice reform and the role of jails.  Tye Menser spoke of the need to coordinate with, and augment, mental health resources to reduce the 45% of the prison population that have mental health issues.  Bud Blake spoke to success of the new jail and of the current criminal justice reform efforts

The third question was on the state of the county budget.  The candidates had very different views on this topic.  Bud Blake spoke of how the last few years have reduced big liabilities for the County, the reduction in debt from $93M to $62.5M, and the AA+ rating for bonds.  Tye Menser expressed significant concerns regarding how a 2016 surplus is now a deficit and that reserves have been reduced by two-thirds. 

The fourth question was on whether a new courthouse should be built and where. Both candidates support a new courthouse.

When asked about rural voters, both candidates stressed the need for better transportation solutions, and that they should get property tax relief if their ability to develop their land is impacted by environmental initiatives

Regarding Capital Lake, Tye Menser is supportive of any solution that improves water quality, while Bud Blake stressed the need for both water quality and sediment control to protect the economy of the port and marina.

In their closing statements, Bud Blake emphasized that he loves his job and wants four more years to leave it better than he found it.  Tye Menser is asking voters to chose bold leadership and stressed the number of organizations that have endorsed him.

Mr Snappy

Dale Hedden won a $25 gift certificate to REI donated by Seth Goldstein.

Meeting adjourned at 1:26pm