County commissioner David Sullivan to retire

‘I think it’s a good time for a transition’

David Sullivan

David Sullivan

PORT TOWNSEND — Democrat David Sullivan will not run for reelection this year after having served 16 years as county commissioner for District 2.

District 2 planning commissioner Lorna Smith announced her plans to file as a candidate for Sullivan’s seat on the three-person board Thursday during a Jefferson County Democrats “Dems Dine Out” meeting.

Sullivan, 67, also announced his plans to retire at the Thursday event.

“I think it’s a good time for a transition,” Sullivan said Tuesday. “I’ve been pointing out to people how impressed I am with my fellow commissioners.

“They work really hard, they really care, they’re really doing the homework: studying, going out there listening to people.

“I feel real secure with their leadership and that goes for the other independently elected officials and department managers that we have here. We just have a really solid team right now,” Sullivan continued.

“I feel like it’s a good time to transition to somebody new.”

Dean running

In addition to Sullivan and Smiths’ announcements, District 1 county commission Kate Dean announced her plan to run for re-election.

Filing week for the November election will be May 11-15.

Jefferson County Republican leadership were unavailable to discuss if the county party has any candidates planned now for the county commissioner election.

Sullivan, who has served four terms as a county commissioner, said his primary accomplishment has been bringing stability to the county.

“I describe it as keeping the tools in the toolbox,” Sullivan said. “I feel real good about how stable county government is and then over the years my work to help stabilize Jefferson Transit, OlyCAP (Olympic Community Action Programs) all those years ago, the Peninsula Regional Transportation Planning Organization and the North Olympic Development Council.

“I think I had a role in each one of those areas, stabilizing those organizations so that they’re effective tools today to work together to solve problems.”

The hardest part of being a commissioner for Sullivan has been balancing home life with the job of commissioner.

He equated the role of commissioner as being a graduate student: balancing meetings, seminars, studying documents and paperwork, which most people learn to get into a rhythm for, but he said “you don’t know what personal challenges you will have.”

“It’s trying to be on the top of your game all the time,” he said.

The most impactful action that Sullivan felt he had done was assisting with the different budgets that the county and other boards he serves on — particularly through the 2008 recession — and balancing the needs and what they could afford.

“Everybody in the county could do a better job if we had more funds,” Sullivan said. “That’s one of the toughest things, that’s where the rubber hits the road.”

Sullivan said he is happy that an experienced person is looking to replace him.

“I think she’d do a really good job,” Sullivan said. “It’s reassuring to me that I have someone applying who would do a really good job.”

Smith is a Cape George Community resident and has lived in Jefferson County since 2012. She has served on the county Planning Commission for the past six years and is a long-time member of the Conservation Futures Citizen Oversight Committee. She currently is the vice-chair of the Olympic Forest Coalition.

“I have very deep experience in county government, having worked more than 25 years as a high-level supervisor and county planning manager and as a former small business owner,” Smith said.

“I envision a future for our county where we maintain a perfect balance of prosperity and sustainability that embraces the principles of smart growth and sensible solutions. I am a great listener and collaborator and look forward to listening to the concerns of our community.”


Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

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