Home USA News Sanders and Menser lead Thurston in Tuesday’s early scoring

Sanders and Menser lead Thurston in Tuesday’s early scoring


Thurston County Sheriff candidates John Snaesa, left, and Derek Sanders, and Thurston County Commissioner candidates Ty Menser and Vivian Eason during the Tennino Chamber of Commerce candidate forum at the Kodiak Room in Tennino on Oct. 19.


If early election results stand, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and Board of Commissioners will see significant changes next year.

Deputy Derek Sanders is ahead of incumbent Sheriff John Snaze, according to results released Tuesday night by the county auditor. Meanwhile, voters appear to be leaning toward re-electing Commissioner Ty Menser and expanding the board from three to five members.

The latest information from the county Comptroller’s Office showed that voter turnout was about 35.5% of the 195,610 registered voters. However, there were still many votes to be counted.

County Auditor Mary Hall, who is also up for re-election this year, estimated that about 30,000 ballots had been received but not yet counted Tuesday night at the Ballot Processing Center in Tamwater.

Taking those ballots into account, Hall said turnout was about 50.8%, but she expected it to reach 60% in the coming days as more mail-in ballots came in.

In 2018, the year of the last midterm election, election day turnout reached 51.9%. This turnout was well above the 34.2% recorded in 2014, but fell short of the 54.02% recorded in 2010.

Thurston County will post updated results daily until the county approves results on November 29. The Secretary of State has until December 8 to approve the results.

Thurston County Sheriff

Rep. Derek Sanders won about 54.7% (35,517 votes) and Sheriff John Snaza won 44.9% (29,138 votes) on Tuesday. That makes Snazz the only Thurston County incumbent trailing his challenger.

Sanders, 28, worked as a deputy with the Force for six years. Both ran as independents.

Reached Tuesday night, Sanders said he felt encouraged by the results so far. He made early returns while surrounded by local law enforcement at Nicole’s Bar in downtown Olympia.

“A lot of people asked me if I was nervous, and I kept telling them I wasn’t,” Sanders said. “I did everything I could morally and ethically to win this race… We went into this pretty confident that people wanted change.”

Sanders said he feels ready to take control of the sheriff’s office and work alongside those who voted for and against him.

“This sheriff’s office will serve you fairly and honestly, no matter how you feel,” Sanders said. “So I’m very happy to serve everyone.”

A Sanders victory would make him the first new sheriff since 2011. Snaza has held the position ever since and was re-elected in 2014 and 2018 without facing challengers.

During the Sanders campaign criticized the leadership of his boss in recent years and even accused him of investigating him for political purposes Snaza rejected the claim. Sanders specifically focused on transparency and accountability, as well as hiring and retention issues.

Among his ideas, Sanders suggested creating groups to deal with domestic violence and homelessness, creating a community advisory board and even empowering armed veterans to protect schools.

Meanwhile, Snaza touted his three decades of experience in law enforcement, as well as recent efforts to improve the county jail and purchase body cameras for deputies. He previously said he had every intention of continuing to expand the sheriff’s office for another term.

Snaza did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.

Thurston County Commissioner, District 3

Democrat Ty Menser led the race Tuesday night with 57.6% (39,089 votes), while Republican Vivian Eason earned 42.3% (28,661 votes).

If his lead holds, Menser will win a second term on the Board of County Commissioners, effectively maintaining a Democratic majority on the board. He is currently running alongside Democrat Carolina Mejia and independent Gary Edwards.

Menser told The Olympian he was pleased with his lead in the early returns Tuesday night. He said he got the results while he was being treated for a cold at home.

“I just want to thank the voters for giving me another four years,” Menser said. “I feel like I’ve been effective, but I think I have a chance to be even more effective. We started a lot of work, which I want to finish.”

Menser said he will continue to practice and listen to those who do not support him. “We get better results for everyone when people who disagree work together,” Menser said.

While in office, Menser helped improve the county’s finances, establish a rainy day fund and oversee the approval of a long-awaited federal habitat conservation plan.

He has advocated for criminal justice reform, environmental protection, and progress on housing and homelessness.

Eason, a veteran and retired county employee, described herself as a fiscal conservative with experience working in emergency situations.

She believes the current commission has neglected rural communities and burdened them with the costs of a new habitat conservation plan. She also urged the commission to increase funding for the sheriff’s office so it can better respond to crime trends.

Reached Tuesday night, Eason said she was feeling positive and had no intention of giving up.

“We can still come back because a lot of Republicans in unincorporated Thurston County are voting late,” Eason said. “Don’t give up. Keep praying.”

County-wide events

Votes to expand the County Commission and the Port of Olympia Commission appeared to be in the lead in early results Tuesday night.

As of Tuesday night, about 54.8% (36,469) voted to approve Thurston County Proposition #1 and 45.2% (30,115) voted no. As for Port of Olympia Proposition #1, about 50.5% (33,329) voted for it and 49.5% (32,683) voted against it.

If the measures are adopted, next year each commission will increase its composition from three to five, which will effectively prepare the district for new elections.

Both bodies decided to bring the respective measures to the ballot this year after the county’s population topped 300,000. Proponents of the change argued that it would improve communication between commissioners, delegation of tasks and representation.

Menser, who supports expanding the county commission, said he’s excited about the early returns.

“I think it’s really going to improve the quality of government in Thurston County in a lot of ways,” Menser said. “So I’m very pleased to see that the voters were able to support it.”

September 9, the pre-owned committee ed two map options, B and C, for each committee to consider. On Sept. 28, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously agreed to Option C as the preferred alternative.

Adding two county commission seats would cost county taxpayers about $754,000 a year in ongoing annual personnel costs, by county.

That’s on top of the roughly $1.1 million a year the county already pays in salaries and benefits to the three current commissioners and their assistants, The Olympian reported earlier.

Additionally, the county says expanding the commission will cost $392,000 in one-time election costs and $200,000 in ongoing election costs over a four-year election cycle.

Meanwhile, Port expects the two additional commissioners to cost $145,000 a year, The Olympian previously reported. This amount will be combined with the $238,000 the Port already spends on its ongoing commission, bringing the total to $383,000.

Other races

In the auditor race, Democrat Mary Hall had about 63.3% (43,028 votes) in early voting Tuesday night. Her opponent, Sal Militello, a Republican, won 36.6% (24,854 votes).

Hall received the results while working at the ballot processing center. She said her race results were what she expected.

“I appreciate the voters putting their trust in me and giving me another four years to serve,” Hall said.

Hall’s victory would give her another term in the post she has held since 2013. In addition to elections, the Auditor’s Office is responsible for accounting and county record keeping, vehicle and court licensing, and other financial services.

While in office, Hall worked to make elections more transparent and accessible. Her efforts have earned her various awards over the years, including Auditor of the year 2020.

Incumbent Clerk Linda Enlow led with 57.3% (33,339 votes) over Tonya Moore, who had 39.4% (22,907 votes) Tuesday night. Both candidates ran as Democrats.

Since his first election in 2014, Enlow has improved the court’s digital technology and implemented a new case management system.

Moore, Superior Court Operations Manager, has 25 years of experience in Thurston and Pierce County Courts.

During her campaign, she advocated making the court more accessible to all, including minorities and trauma survivors.

Appraiser Stephen Drew appeared poised to retain his position in early returns Tuesday night despite the latest allegations against him his former chief deputy. Drew won 58.2% (38,984 votes) and Dave Kolar won 41.6% (27,827 votes).

Drew, a Democrat, has served as county assessor since 2010. Kolar, an independent candidate, has worked as a vanpool program coordinator for Intercity Transit for ten years.

Treasurer Jeff Gadman leads with 65% (42,094 votes) as of Tuesday night. His opponent, Jeff Curry, received 34.6% (22,414 votes).

Gedman, a Democrat, won election to the treasurer position in 2017 after being appointed to the same position earlier that year. Additionally, he was a member of the Lacey City Council from 2011 to 2017.

Curry has worked as a Tumwater school bus driver and has no party affiliation.

Coroner Gary Warnock and District Attorney John Tunheim ran for re-election unopposed.

This story was originally published November 8, 2022 at 10:41 p.m.

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