This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
It sure wasn’t for lack of trying.
Robin Farris’ signature-gathering campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam came up achingly short. She just missed clearing a very high bar of collecting the 65,495 signatures needed to put a recall measure on the November ballot. Percentagewise, she needed to collect more than twice the signatures required to get a statewide initiative on the ballot.
That Farris’ campaign was unsuccessful is a disappointment to The News Tribune editorial board. Like many, we’ve been dismayed by Washam’s erratic, unethical behavior since taking office in January 2009. He has retaliated against whistle-blowers, misused his office’s resources to further personal vendettas and created a hostile workplace.
Washam’s behavior has been costly. Pierce County faces $4.3 million in claims for damages filed by current and former employees of Washam’s office. He faces a hearing before the county ethics commission on a citizen’s complaint that he violated the county ethics code on 15 occasions.
Most recently, county Auditor Julie Anderson banned him from her office unless he has specific business or an appointment because of what she calls “harassing and unprofessional” behavior toward Anderson’s assistant.
Despite the failure of the recall campaign, concerned county residents can be confident that if Washam decides to run for re-election next year, he’ll face infinitely more competent opposition. Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell has announced his candidacy, and outgoing state Auditor Brian Sonntag said Tuesday that he will consider running. (Read earlier blog posting here.)
That’s all well and good, but Washam still will have more than a year to do even more damage and run up the bill for county taxpayers.
Farris and those helping with her campaign deserve thanks for their hard work in trying to rectify an unfortunate situation. At the very least, their oh-so-close effort should tell Washam that more than 64,000 county voters want him out of office.