A rancorous and explosive era in Clark County government came to an end with a plate of cookies, cups of coffee and words of gratitude.
Tuesday was the last Clark County council hearing to include Tom Mielke and David Madore. Both Republican councilors will step down at the end of the month. Mielke will retire and Madore lost the August primary. They will be replaced with Republicans John Blom and Eileen Quiring, respectively, who will be sworn in later this month.
In recent years, the two councilors have quarrelled with county staff and the rest of the council. Mielke went as far as to file a recall petition against County Chair Marc Boldt, no party preference, and Republican Councilors Julie Olson and Jeanne Stewart earlier this year. Madore has been investigated for harassment claims and subject to a whistleblower lawsuit. The two also have repeatedly battled with county staff.
But during the final hearing and a reception that followed, the two struck a mostly gracious tone.
“We’ve been change agents, we’ve been reformers,” said Madore, which someone responded to with an “amen.” Madore, who was elected as a county commissioner in 2012 before the county adopted its Home Rule Charter in 2014, also quoted and paraphrased from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
“We stand in awe of the privilege we have here in America that we have been given — not by the state, not by this county — those inalienable rights by our creator,” he said. “And our response is obey, trust, obey, be thankful, love each other.”
Mielke, who previously served in the state Legislature before being elected as a county commissioner in 2008, said his service had been an “awesome, awesome experience.”
“I started a part-time job 20 years ago in the Legislature, and all I had was fire in my belly,” he said. “I knew nothing about politics.”
Boldt presented both councilors with plaques on behalf of the rest of the council telling them that their public service had made the county a better place.
Anna Miller presented both councilors with plaques on behalf of Washington Citizens for Responsible Government.
“We have a debt of gratitude to you that we can never repay,” she told the councilors.
Madore did acknowledge that the council raised property taxes and reinstated park fees, which had been removed under the outgoing councilors. He also told supporters gathered at the reception how he dealt with attacks on him.
“It’s not about us,” he said. “When people attack their representative they are attacking the people that we are sworn to represent.”
About 40 people attended the hearing and reception. They applauded Madore and Mielke and lined up to snap photos with the councilors and wish them well.
County Manager Mark McCauley, who’s clashed with Madore and Mielke, told The Columbian that the job of a county councilor is a tough and important job and he appreciated their service.
“Both of them gave it their all,” he said.