WSAC/WACO Joint Conference Save the Date
58th Annual Washington Association of County Officials Conference 2016

Thank you for attending our 58th annual conference. This year we had more registered members and guests than anytime in the last half-decade. Additionally, we had the highest number of vendors and sponsors supporting our work ever.
If you were unable to attend, or want to review any of the program materials – please feel free to visit our webpage at: for a list of 2016 resources.

Tammie Ownbey

Greetings from Tammie Ownbey, President

As I thought about what to share with you in my first letter as WACO President, I kept coming back to what I truly believe is the fundamental essence of our strength – each other.   We come together across political divides, across core job functions, and across regional differences to work on commonality.  We are unique in this manner and we are stronger because of it.  WACO is much greater than a sum of its parts. 
To enrich WACO’s core strength and enhance our effectiveness this year, I heartily encourage each of us to reach outside of the board ranks through our affiliate leadership and include more, seasoned and new, colleagues into our decision process.  I’d like to see more of our membership take active roles in our committees and meetings, and to champion the message that inclusiveness and involvement is the cornerstone of WACO’s success.
To begin this work, I am announcing the composition of our seven standing committees for the next year. Our non-board member participation on these committees is nearly double our board participation. Throughout the year we bring together a number of ad-hoc committees, if you would like to sit on a committee, please let me, or WACO staff, know.
As we begin looking toward the legislative session, there are plenty of opportunities for a member to help. Please facilitate with your affiliate legislative committee and keep apprised of our various hearings, meetings, and calls for action. Your voice is our strength – and we can use all hands on deck.
As many of you have commented, our Courthouse Journal (CHJ) has grown and taken a new shape since launching. I encourage you to share the CHJ among your staff, they can sign up to receive it as well; share it among your courthouse peers who may not have read it; and, most importantly, I strongly encourage you to share your stories.
Your experience, your successes, and your struggles – all have great resonance with others. By sharing your stories, we are able to grow as an organization. Your stories can take many forms, the important thing is that we use the valuable CHJ forum to exchange ideas, experiences and to alert each other of potential hurdles. If you would like to contribute to the CHJ, please email:
In closing, I want to convey, how deeply honored I am to work with you. WACO has provided me a sense of camaraderie that has enriched my role as a County Clerk, and my life as a whole. I am so very proud to be your President.

Scott Blonien
Election Day, What Next

The campaign is over, soon all the races will be tabulated and the winners will be declared. Thus completes one of the greatest aspects of our democracy: the people have a choice, and they exercise it.
Outside of the euphoria of running a successful campaign, and reaching public office we shouldn’t forget those who ran, but were not successful. It takes commitment, selflessness, courage and a willingness to serve, to be a candidate for public office. The public exchange of ideas leading up to an election can solidify many candidates’ core ideas and highlight their strengths – whether they win their office or not. So let’s take a moment to thank all of those who ran, they make this democracy work.
Today we now have the great opportunity to look forward to healing campaign wounds, pulling up our sleeves and doing the hard work of making government run better. As WACO looks toward the next year, and legislative session, we will need every member pitching in to make the 2017 session successful.  We need to pass our priority legislation and fend off any bills that would do harm to our affiliates.
To accomplish this herculean task we will need to exploit our richest asset: you, the members. To build upon our reputation, and be a force to be reckoned with, we need to have a physical presence on the hill. This means not only WACO staff, but also you the members. There is considerable strength in our numbers. By showing up for hearings, receptions, and meetings when called we can ‘flex’ our muscle and show that we have almost 270 members behind our agenda and our position on bills. Your presence alone sends a very powerful message, one that we’ll need in 2017.

Fiscal Sustainability Initiative Update

In 2014 the WACO membership voted to adopt the Fiscal Sustainability Initiative (FSI), a joint, multi-year effort with our sister organization Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC), as a WACO Priority. FSI seeks to improve county fiscal health through a number of legislative priorities addressing revenue and costs for counties. 
The primary FSI focus this session will be modification of the 1% limit factor on property tax increases imposed by statute to a new limit factor based on population growth and inflation. WACO members who attended the 2014 WACO business meeting in Spokane may recall that there was a lively discussion over whether to include this property tax change in the FSI package. By a separate vote, our members did choose to include the property tax limit factor change in the FSI package, which became a WACO Priority.
This year, WSAC is spearheading a coalition including WSAC, WACO, the Association of Washington Cities (AWC), fire districts, and labor in anticipation of bringing this property tax legislation. WSAC retained an outside communications firm to develop additional messaging and WACO has committed financial resources in both 2016 and 2017 to help support this effort. WSAC will be asking their members for a special assessment and WACO is using existing budget funds to meet our commitment.
While the specific language is still being vetted through the coalition, here are a couple of important aspects of the proposal:

  • Taking any increase in property tax remains a local option (as it currently is).  
  • Replaces current statutory limit factor of 1% with county population growth and inflation. So each county may have a unique limit factor because of differences in population growth.
  • Limit factor is capped at 5%. 
  • Local jurisdictions retain the current authority to take up to 1%

WACO's New Intern: Christie Rooks

Christie Rooks is Washington Association of County Officials’ new communications intern. During the course of her internship she will be focusing on graphic design, web design, social media, and working on other communications strategies. 
Christie is a recent graduate from Evergreen State College with a BA emphasis in art and communications. Prior to earning her bachelors degree, Christie earned an associates degree in graphic technology from Clover Park Technical College.
A single mother of two children, who returned to school in her thirties, Christie has lived in Washington state for the last fourteen years and enjoys photography and playing Euro-style board games.
Christie is excited to have the opportunity to intern with Washington Association of County Officials because it will help add to her design portfolio, while helping the community. Christie has an interest in nonprofit communication and graphic design because she wants her graphic work to help the community where she lives. An internship with WACO will give real world skills in nonprofit and government communications, while diversifying her media communications skills.
Christie is currently working on an updated edition of the “Washington County Government” booklet, accompanying web graphics, and infographics telling the courthouse story.

Open Government Resource Manual

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has again updated its online Open Government Resource Manual summarizing Washington’s sunshine laws.  The 2016 edition is available on the Attorney General’s Open Government Web Page at

The 2016 edition updates the 2015 manual and now also includes:

  • A new Table of Contents
  • Information about several 2016 statutes and court decisions

The manual describes the state’s Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act. The manual includes summaries of and links to relevant statutes, court decisions, formal Attorney General Opinions, Public Records Act Model Rules, and other materials.

Kicking the Can

Education Funding in Washington on the Heels of McCleary
by Tanya L. Barton (NW Lawyer Vol. 70, No. 6, p. 28)

McCleary Article Image

A Little Cooperation Can Go a Long Way to Mitigate Negative Publicity

by Todd McGee | Public Relations Director. County Quarterly Magazine, Summer 2016. P. 8-9
[Although this article is about County Commissioners, it contains information that is of use to any elected official.]
Being an elected official is no easy task, especially for those who serve at the local level. With long hours and low pay, County Commissioners are frequently asked to vote on such hot-button issues as zoning, school funding, where to site a new landfill, or economic incentives. Some of these issues may negatively impact neighbors, friends, family members and co-workers and generate less than desirable headlines for your governing board.
There are simple steps an elected official can take to help ensure their side of a story gets out. The most important step is to develop a professional relationship with the local media. This doesn’t mean you have to become Facebook friends, send them holiday cards or invite them to your child’s birthday party, but it does mean you should treat the reporters with respect, understand what your role is in the process, and always be responsive to their requests for information and comments.
The reporter is your conduit to the public at large, and cooperating with the reporter on a story – even a controversial one – will help get your side of the story out. In this day of understaffed newsrooms and 24/7 news cycles, reporters are often working multiple beats while being asked to post on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites. The competition to be the first to break a story is fierce, thanks to the ever-increasing amount of citizen journalists (i.e. bloggers), so being responsive to a reporter’s request for an interview is important.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drop whatever you are doing and speak to the reporter immediately. You always have the right to ask for a few minutes to compose your thoughts before you consent to the interview. Ask the reporter why they are calling (if they haven’t already explained) and politely explain that you can’t speak right at this moment, but that you will be available in 30 minutes or an hour. If it is late in the afternoon, find out what their deadline is, then make sure you call back before the deadline. Take advantage of this additional time to review the key points you wish to make and rehearse your answers. Call your county manager or public information officer to get a refresher on the issue if possible. Be sure to call back the reporter when you say you will – always be respectful of a reporter’s deadline.
It is also important to remember what your role is in the news-gathering process. As a county commissioner you – and not the reporter – are the expert. Your first goal is to help the reporter understand why a decision was made so they can in turn educate their readers (your constituents).

Add to the Conversation!

We welcome your contributions and updates for the Courthouse Journal. Please share with us articles, and updates -  examples may be awards, accomplishments, recognition, extraordinary service to the public and office innovations.

Email contributions to

Washington Statewide Election Results

Races have tightened a bit since election night, but, except for a few instances, the outcomes are the same and few expect.

Legislative Races:

Prior to the election, the State House of Representatives had a Democratic majority of 50 seats to 48 seats Republican. Currently, the House Democrats may pick up one extra seat – having lost a seat in the 31st district but picking up two in the 30th district. In the Senate, the Republicans had a working majority of 26 seats (including Democrat Senator Tim Sheldon). At this writing, the Republicans/Majority Coalition Caucus will lose one seat (incumbent Sen. Litzow, a Republican, is currently trailing Democrat Lisa Wellman). Hence, the Republicans appear to maintain their majority: 25 seats to 24 seats. However, the Senate will look a lot different: possibly twelve new members and at least three will have no legislative experience.

New Senate Democrats:

Guy Palumbo (D-1)
Rep Sam Hunt (D-22)
Rep Kevin VanDeWege (D-24)
Vacant seat open for appointment (D-37), to replace Sen Pramila Jayapal,
Lisa Wellman (D-41) elected, defeating incumbent Sen Steve Litzow (R)
Vacant seat open for appointment (D-48), to replace Sen Cyrus Habib,

New Senate Majority Coalition Caucus members:

Rep Brad Hawkins (R-12)
Rep Maureen Walsh (R-16)
Rep Lynda Wilson (R-17)
Rep Hans Zeiger (R-25)
Possible vacant seat open for appointment (R-31) to replace Sen. Pam Roach should she hold on to win a Pierce County Council seat.
Vacant seat open for appointment (R-45), to replace Sen Andy Hill

State Executive races:

Governor: Inslee (D): 55% to Bryant (R)  45%
Lt. Governor: Habib (D) 54.92% to McClendon (R)  45.08%
Secretary of State: Wyman (R) 54.32%   to Podlodowski (D) 45.68%
State Treasurer: Davidson (R) 58.28% to Waite (R) 41.72%
State Auditor: McCarthy (D) 52.82% to Miloscia (R) 47.18%
Attorney General: Ferguson (D) 67.88% to Trumbull (L) 32.12%
Commissioner of Public Lands: Franz (D)  53.74% to McLaughlin (R) 46.26%
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Reykdal  50.72% to Jones 49.28%
Insurance Commissioner: Kreidler (D) 58.95% to Schrock (R) 41.05%

Judicial Races:
Supreme Court – Position 1:   Yu  57.79% to DeWolf  42.21%
Supreme Court – Position 5:  Madsen  62.51% to Zempel 37.49%
Supreme Court -  Position 6:  Wiggins 57.77% to Larson 42.23%


A Word from 2016 Conference Sponsor BallotTrax

BallotTrax is the world’s first complete mail ballot locator and notification system. BallotTrax by i3logix is a unique, patent-pending solution that tracks the status of every mail ballot and sends a series of proactive alerts to voters telling them where their ballot is in the election process, from printed to accepted. This tool gives voters peace of mind know their vote remains private and has been counted. Now available in 3 states, BallotTrax is supporting nearly 30 counties and more than 4.5 million registered voters for the 2016 General Election. Through a simple, innovative web application, BallotTrax brings election visibility and assurance back to counties and voters alike, returning confidence to the democratic process. Expand your election process with BallotTrax and trust that every vote counts.

NACo Releases Analysis of 2016 Elections

Now that the elections are over, Congress will be back in Washington, D.C. next week to begin the lame duck session, President-elect Trump is already beginning his transition and congressional leaders are getting organized for the 115th Congress.
To help you digest the results of the election and what it means for county governments, the National Association of Counties (NACo) has released a detailed report, "U.S. Election Insight 2016: What's in Store for the Nation's Counties." Click here to view the report.

NACo Elections

NACo's analysis details what the election means for the composition and balance of power in Congress and the states, as well as how county priority issues could fare under the Trump administration and 115th Congress. The report also includes a full list of former county officials who will be serving in the new Congress.
Also, save the date for NACo's Legislative Conference February 25–March 1, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Registration opens next week!

Washington Association of County Officials Staff Contact

Scott Blonien
Executive Director

Monty Cobb
Policy Director, General Counsel

Timothy Grisham
Director of Member Services - Communications

Michell Allert
Administrative and Member Services Support


206 Tenth Ave. SE
Olympia, WA 98501


If you, or anyone you know in your county, are having trouble receiving our communications. Follow these easy steps.

1. Check you spam folder for blocked content, if you find nothing than complete all of steps 2-4.

2. Contact your IT department and ask them if the county's firewall/quarantine has caught anything.

3. Have your county IT department add anything from and to the county's safe/whitelist.

4. Follow the steps at

Powered by CivicSend - A product of CivicPlus