Local elected officials sworn in yesterday in second-ever online ceremony


For the second time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, elected officials throughout Thurston County were sworn into office remotely on Wed, Dec. 29.

Officials who were inducted into office include newly elected port commissioners, city and town mayors, councilmembers, school board directors, fire commissioners, park and recreation commissioners, and cemetery commissioners.

The event was historic for the city of Tumwater as Debbie Sullivan became its first female mayor in the city’s 155-year history. Sullivan takes over its leadership following the retirement of the city’s long-time mayor, Pete Kmet.

The ceremony was hosted by Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, whose agency manages elections. “Today is a day of recognition, commitment, and celebration in front of our families and friends and community,” Hall said. In her speech, the county auditor reminded community leaders that they “must reach beyond ourselves and serve all our communities. We must take office and work together not just within our jurisdiction but across jurisdictions.”

Executive Director for the Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County Jody Suhrbier also spoke at the event. “When one commits to a path of service there is at root, a belief that each of us has the power to make a change. A belief that by offering the skills acquired, the experiences acquired, and the wisdom gleaned from many lessons learned, we can really contribute to the future for everyone,” Suhrbier said.

Suhrbier said she believed that the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic provide an opportunity for officials to see and address the flaws in the system. Suhrbier shared that what makes a great leader is not someone who can provide “pre-made solutions” but rather, it is someone who is ready to listen.

Hall concluded, “Local government is the closest government to the people, and the decisions you make have the greatest impact on the lives of your neighbors.”


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