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The watchdog that didn’t bark

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on May 30, 2010 at 7:38 am |
June 1, 2010 2:30 pm

Shame on us.

I’ve scoured our past elections endorsements and failed to find any real warning to the voters how big a catastrophe Dale Washam would be as Pierce County auditor.

Most citizens probably pay no attention to our endorsements, which is fine. But some do. If we had shared what we knew about Washam’s obsessiveness and anger problems, it’s possible he might not sneaked in under the radar in a crowded ranked-choice ballot and wound up in charge of a major department of county government.

The fact is, we – like many others – were blindsided by Washam’s election in 2008. He was what’s known as a perennial candidate, a person who runs repeatedly for one office or another without getting elected.

We figured enough voters knew him well enough. We figured he’d go on running and go on losing; no harm, no foul. Our editorial on the auditor’s race simply mentioned that “the field also includes … Dale Washam.”

In our endorsements, we struggle with what to say about candidates who are manifestly unqualified for the offices they seek. Believe it or not, we prefer to err on the side of politeness.

Despite his profound deficiencies as an administrator, Washam appears to be a fundamentally decent man. We pulled our punches. I truly wish we hadn’t.

CORRECTION

I got going on “A” words somehow and called Washam the county “auditor” in this. He’s the assessor-treasurer, of course. Apologies to Julie Anderson, who is the real auditor.

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