Steve Tharinger announced Tuesday morning he will not be seeking a fourth term as county commissioner.
Tharinger, a Democrat elected to the state House of Representatives in November, said the decision not to run for re-election was difficult because it isn’t easy to leave a good team but he felt it was time to transition out.
Tharinger has represented District 1 as a commissioner in Clallam County since 2000 but also has served on the Clallam County Planning Commission, as chairman of the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area Task Force, as a member of the Clallam County Forest/Mineral Lands Committee, a member of the Clallam County Agricultural Resource Lands Committee and a member of the Dungeness River Flood Control Advisory Board.
“During my three terms as a county commissioner, I’ve been proud of the way board members have always worked cooperatively to meet challenges both great and small,” he said. “It is my hope that this collaborative spirit will continue well into the future, so that Clallam County’s citizens will benefit from dedicated, responsible leadership.”
Tharinger said he hopes that fellow commissioners Mike Chapman and Mike Doherty will be able to continue the team approach with his successor.
Chapman, an Independent representing District 2, said he has great respect for Tharinger after working with him for more than a decade.
Chapman said the board worked together well to save money during the good times so they could tap into it during the bad times and avoid making deep cuts to services.
“He has been a big part of the county team; he will be missed,” Chapman said, adding he wishes Tharinger all the best at the state level.
During his campaign for state representative, Tharinger emphasized how important he thought it was that government work better for its citizens.
“I believed then, as I do now, that rural Washingtonians need a strong voice for local control in the Legislature,” he said.
Chapman said it’s been nice to get inside reports each week from Tharinger to keep county officials up to date on issues at the state level.
Tharinger said he will continue to serve residents of the Olympic Peninsula as a representative.
Jim McEntire, a Republican who ran against Tharinger for state representative and won the Clallam County vote, said people have approached him about possibly running for Tharinger’s county position and he is giving it some serious thought.
The Clallam County Democrats have not identified a candidate to run for Tharinger’s seat.
Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequim gazette.com.