Jefferson County commissioner-elect: Part of a new generation

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Commissioner-elect Greg Brotherton, who is 46, said he is part of a new generation of leaders in the county who won seats during Tuesday’s election.

Brotherton, a Quilcene Democrat and owner-operator of several retail establishments in Discovery Bay, prevailed over Jon Cooke, 60, of Quilcene who is chair of the county Republican party.

Brotherton won 13,021 votes, or 68.18 percent, to Cooke’s 6,076 votes, or 31.82 percent, after a second count of ballots Wednesday following the initial count Tuesday night.

The Auditor’s Office has counted 19,973 ballots, or 78.6 percent of the 25,411 ballots provided registered voters in the all-mail election. Results are not expected to change in the next count on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to being commissioner and all that comes with that, all the education that comes with that, the work and the controversy,” Brotherton said at a celebratory party after the results were announced.

Challenger Jon Cooke was disappointed when he examined his race results Tuesday night.

“I lost District 3 by 600 votes,” Cooke said then. “When Port Townsend throws in 4,000 votes, it kills the chances of District 3 truly being represented.”

“I believe my message was heard. I brought up questions like the need for the Hadlock sewer and for the county to become more business friendly. I believe I was heard, and Port Townsend heard me the loudest. That’s why they voted against me.”

Brotherton said the next generation of leaders is coming in to guide the county.

“It really is a passing of the torch from one generation to the next and I embrace that and it’s time for that to happen.”

He said that Prosecuting Attorney-elect James Kennedy is 37 and District Court Judge-elect Mindy Walker is 42. His colleague, District 1 County Commissioner Kate Dean, is 44.

“Only in Jefferson County am I considered young,” Brotherton said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Jefferson County residents’ median age in 2017 was 57.9.

He also admitted that the enormity and gravity of the position is a bit overwhelming.

“It’s scary,” he said. “ I’ve worked for this position for the last eight months and I’ve worked hard for it. But it is a hard position. I came to recognize that fully when I went through the process of trying to get the job. I’m really excited about the opportunity.

“Now is the time to roll up my sleeves as the job begins.”

Cooke plans to stay involved in the Republican party and continue to be an advocate for District 3 voters. He said he’ll be watching the commissioners making decisions.

Brotherton said he has great respect for the two colleagues he will join on the dais.

“Kate [Dean] is a dynamic leader who I hope to learn a lot from and she’s trying to go to the next level to move our county forward,” Brotherton said. “She’s committed to this process and I want to emulate that effort.

“David’s [Sullivan] knowledge and support will be invaluable as we go forward,” Brotherton said.

“He’s has so much reference as to what the county has been through. I cannot wait to sit down with him and understand the antecedents to the issues we are dealing with now. I think he’s a good leader. I want to learn from him where we are, how we got here.

Brotherton said he has been given a mandate going forward.

“I will work on things that I talked about in the campaign — making it easier to build houses, easier to build businesses, working on that rural broadband. I’m ready. A lot of work can begin now, including committee assignments.

“I come from a tradition at Evergreen College of interdisciplinary learning. I believe in the idea that getting outside of your comfort zone is sometimes necessary to find creative solutions to the problems that affect us all.

“I can’t wait for January.”

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]

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