Bill Peach

Bill Peach

Clallam commissioners consider placing themselves under personnel policy

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County’s elected officials will discuss in the coming weeks whether county personnel policies should apply to them.

Right now the policies that county employees must follow do not apply to elected officials, something Commissioner Bill Peach said he discovered after about a year or two on the job.

“I don’t think that’s equatable,” he said during the Board of County Commissioners work session Monday. “I do think if the commissioners are going to demonstrate leadership, we should be responsible in the same exact manner as all of our employees.”

Peach has recommended amending a section of the Clallam County Charter that currently exempts elected officials from the personnel policy.

A change to the charter would require a vote of the public. Peach said he hopes to see the measure on the November ballot.

Under his proposal, the county charter would say elected officials “shall be exempt from the recruitment, selection, retention and separation” provisions of the personnel policy, which he said Monday appears to be the original intent.

“I believe what originally was written was an oversight,” he said. “We can correct this by including [this language] that makes it clear that the exemption is specific to recruitment, selection, retention and separation.”

Peach said he has heard from one person who doesn’t believe the change is necessary — due to other processes to remove elected officials who don’t perform well — but he would like to hear from others.

“If the elected official is not behaving in a manner that is prudent, there is a process to remove that person from office,” he said. “I’m not touching that action.”

Peach said he is especially concerned that with the exception in place that the personnel policy doesn’t apply to an elected official who bullies to make a point, harasses or sexually harasses employees.

“I don’t stand for that, I really do not,” he said. “I deserve a safe working place and I expect everyone else who comes here, they deserve the same thing. I’m concerned that an exemption exists.”

Peach said the way he interprets the charter would allow an elected official to say they are exempt from the personnel policy.

The change, he said, would allow Human Resources to conduct an investigation as well.

He said the change would allow commissioners to enter into executive session to discuss behavior.

“I hope we would never ever have to use it,” he said.

Commissioner Mark Ozias recommended a discussion with other elected county officials and if there is general agreement it is a good idea, there would be a public hearing.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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