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Wednesday, June 7, 2023
June 7, 2023

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Press Talk: Rivers out in run for county chair

By , Columbian Editor

Our very own state Sen. Ann Rivers is out in her bid to run for Clark County council chair.

Once thought to be the savior of the dysfunctional county council when she announced she would run for chair, she has now seen enough. Or too much. However you want to describe it.

Expect her to put out a press release later this week making it official.

The press release is likely to say she’s just having too much fun as a state senator and does not want to leave that job. And although that’s true, the underlying — and likely major — reason for the decision is she simply doesn’t want to get embroiled in Crazy Town.

But wait — some of you who are following along might say — I thought she said she planned to do both jobs? Well, actually that’s not true. Rivers never said that. It was what Rivers didn’t say that led many to believe she would do both jobs.

When she announced back in early December that she would run for county chair, I wrote a column about that same time saying Rivers would not do both jobs. But she wouldn’t publicly say that, because she didn’t want to be considered a lame duck in Olympia.

Her announcement to not seek the state Senate seat if she won the county chair position was expected to actually come sometime this month.

But now Rivers has decided the county chair position is simply a no-win proposition. Although Rivers is a powerful political force to deal with — and would have easily won the county chair position if she ran — her goal was not just to win. It was to wrestle the stupid stuff out of the M&M boys.

Those boys being Councilors David Madore and Tom Mielke.

Unfortunately, she has concluded that isn’t possible. And she’s not sure anyone in that position will be able to do it.

o o o

The stupid stuff came out in full force when Madore was elected and Mielke was reelected to what now is known as the county council. As the stupid stuff intensified, residents saw enough and voted in a county charter form of government, which greatly reduced the M&M boys’ power.

Freeholders were elected to create the county charter and Rivers was a major player in that process. She supported the final charter but did not publicly come out in favor of it. Later she would tell a few folks she didn’t want to publicly support it because it would look self-serving if she then ran for the county chair.

Before the charter was in place, the M&M boys were able to directly push through some strange hires for the county. The strangest — of course — was hiring Rivers’ fellow Republican state Sen. Don Benton as the county’s environmental services director. He was parachuted into that $100,000-a-year county job with virtually no qualifications.

With the charter voted in, Benton no longer had the protection of the M&M boys. His fate now rests with Acting County Manager Mark McCauley. So McCauley could simply let Benton go. And make no mistake, Rivers does not think much of Benton. At all.

So I suspect if McCauley had dumped Benton, Rivers might have run for the county chair. Unfortunately, McCauley has kept Benton around. And having to deal with the M&M boys and Benton as a county employee was simply too much for any human being to bear.

o o o

The county chair position is now wide open. Mielke has already announced he will run for it. And former Republican County Commissioner Marc Boldt said he was interested. Former Republican Sheriff Garry Lucas said he was leaning against any run for the county council, but he might change his mind now that Rivers is out.

Oh my! What will happen next?

Columbian Editor