This year will mark Councilor Tom Mielke’s last in public service, as the Republican councilor officially announced Tuesday that he will not run for re-election.
“After much deliberation with my family, we have decided that after 60 years of work … it’s okay if I retire,” said Mielke, who recently turned 74. “I have elected not to seek re-election.”
Mielke alerted The Reflector, Battle Ground’s weekly newspaper, last Friday that he planned to retire when his term ends in December, reversing a claim he made to the paper days earlier that he did plan to run again. Tuesday’s announcement, however, was the first official word from Mielke about his plans for the future.
“I’m kind of looking forward to it,” Mielke said. “Our term doesn’t end until the end of December. You’ll have the pleasure of my company still up to that point.”
Mielke, who represents Council District 4, in rural east Clark County, was elected to the Clark County council in 2008 and won a second term in 2012. He previously served four terms as the 18th Legislative District representative from 1997 to 2004.
Mielke’s legislative term overlapped county council Chair Marc Boldt’s, who was a Republican representative from 1995 to 2004 for the 17th Legislative District. The pair shared a home in Olympia.
“You were a good roommate,” Boldt told Mielke, thanking him for his service.
Three candidates so far have announced their intentions to for Mielke’s seat: Democrat Roman Battan, a Camas business owner; Republican Jennifer McDaniel, a Washougal city councilor; and Republican Eileen Quiring, a Clark County planning commissioner.
Councilor David Madore, a Republican, used a routine item on Tuesday’s agenda as a platform to share his ongoing concerns about offering Acting County Manager Mark McCauley the position permanently.
The council on Tuesday considered and eventually approved the county’s Equal Employment Opportunity Plan, which the U.S. Department of Justice requires the county approve every two years to comply with federal law and qualify for grant funding.
But this year’s decision came as Madore has been touting Clark County’s status as an equal opportunity employer as reason to open applications for the county manager position. The newly expanded county council must hire a permanent county manger this year under the Home Rule Charter.
The county recently approved a contract with human resources firm Waldron to conduct a review of McCauley’s performance. The council will then use that review to make a future decision about whether to hire McCauley permanently or seek other candidates for the top executive job.
But Madore said the county would be in violation of its own equal opportunity status if it does not consider all applications for the position.
Mielke agreed with Madore.
“I’m wondering if we’re contradicting the equal employment opportunity rules that we are about to put in place if we don’t allow others to apply,” he said. “Then we’re not opening it up to equal opportunities.”
Deputy Prosecutor Chris Horne, however, disagreed, because the county isn’t currently accepting applications at all for the county manager job. The county can’t be accused of discriminating against applications for a position that isn’t open.
“My opinion is no,” Horne said. “That’s because (McCauley’s) position is not currently vacant.”
Councilor Julie Olson criticized Madore for his interpretation of the issue.
“I’ve heard Councilor Madore say twice now ‘in my eyes,’ ” she said. “I’m going to defer to our legal staff and the legal opinion that we’ve received not once, but multiple times on this issue.”
“Councilor Madore’s eyes, there’s no jurisprudence there, there’s no law degree there,” she continued.
Boldt, no party preference, also reprimanded Madore.
“Don’t drag Mr. McCauley through the mud,” Boldt told him to scattered applause from some audience members. “I’m sick of it.”
Olson, Boldt and Councilor Jeanne Stewart, a Republican, voted to approve the equal employment opportunity item. Madore and Mielke did not vote.