Newly elected Thurston County and Port of Olympia commissioners swore their oaths of office during a ceremony Tuesday at the county's Atrium building.
More than 60 people attended the ceremony that capped off the expansion of both the county and port commissions from three to five members.
Voters approved a measure to expand the commissions in the 2022 general election and elected new people to fill the positions on Nov. 7. The two commissions worked together to align their newly created districts and ensure their elections coincided.
"These positions hold immense importance in our community," County Auditor Mary Hall said. "The collaboration between the county and port has really been pivotal. ... So I truly hope for the sake of our community that that great relationship continues."
Hall swore in Maggie Sanders, who was elected to Position 4 on the port commission, and Sarah Tonge, who won the Position 5 port commission race.
County Commissioner Carolina Mejia swore in Emily Clouse, who was elected to Position 5 on the county commission.
Hall presented Wayne Fournier, who won Position 4 on the county commission, with a certificate of election, but did not swear him in because he he was still mayor of Tenino. Mejia swore in Fournier later that evening following his resignation at a Tenino City Council meeting.
On Wednesday, the county issued a news release indicating Clouse and Fournier both began their new roles immediately after being sworn in.
"We are pleased to welcome the two commissioners to the board," Mejia said in the release. "Their addition enhances our ability to make impactful decisions and drive our county forward."
Prior to the Tuesday ceremony, the county's canvassing board unanimously voted to certify the Nov. 7 general election. Hall sits on the board with Mejia and Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim.
The final tally shows 39.4% of the county's 196,717 registered voters participated in the election.
"That doesn't seem like high turnout for this election at almost 40%, but it actually is very good turnout for an odd-year election," Hall said.
In 2021, the most recent odd-number election year, turnout reached 38.2%, according to final certified results. Comparatively, the 2022 election, when federal races were on the ballot, drew 64.8% turnout.
How did the new commissioners react?
The Olympian caught up with the new commissioners after the ceremony when attendees were treated to refreshments.
Clouse said the event felt "surreal" but she was eager to attend her first meeting as a county commissioner later in the day. She said she's open to talking with anyone who has any comments, questions or concerns for her.
"I'm honored and thankful to have the support of everybody who voted for me and I'm looking forward to representing everybody in Thurston County," Clouse said.
Though Fournier was not sworn in with everyone else, he said he felt excited by the ceremony and the chance to serve the community in a new capacity.
"I thank everybody for the opportunity and trust, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in Thurston County," Fournier said.
Tonge thanked everyone who turned out to vote, especially her supporters who helped elect her.
"It feels huge, like a big achievement but also a big commitment to the citizens of Thurston County to help our port and all the citizens within our county," Tonge said.
Sanders said she is excited to be the collective voice of the community. She also thanked her supporters, including those from the Native American community.
"There was a large turnout and I feel like I had the ancestors behind me but also the Thurston County citizens ahead of me in this journey," Sanders said.
Recount in Rainier
The canvassing board scheduled a mandatory hand recount for the Rainier City Council Position 2 race on Tuesday.
The final tally showed Ryan Roth won the race over Damion Green by one vote, 247 to 246. A recount is required when the vote difference is less than 150 and less than .25 of 1%, according to a news release from the Auditor's Office.
The recount will start at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 1. The canvassing board will meet at 4 p.m. to certify the results of the recount.
The Washington State Secretary of State will certify the results on Dec. 7.