Thurston County Manager resigns, interim manager selected. Here’s why

Thurston County Manager Ramiro Chavez has resigned from his role, prompting a new search for a replacement.

Chavez submitted his letter of resignations to the Board of County Commissioners on Aug. 29 and his last day will be Oct. 4, according to a news release. He is stepping down after accepting a conditional offer to serve as Public Works Director for the City of Tacoma.

“Speaking for the board, I want to thank Ramiro for his years of service at Thurston County and his leadership in this role,” said Board Chair Carolina Mejia. “We wish him the best of luck in this new chapter.”

Chavez became the interim County Manager in 2016 and then the permanent county manager in 2017. He started at the county in 2014 when he was hired as the Public Works Director. In the news release, Chavez extended his “utmost gratitude” to the board and the entire county staff for their support.

“Being a part of this exceptional team has been a truly remarkable experience, and I am honored to have served as Thurston County Manager,” Chavez said. “I am confident I have exerted my utmost effort to serve the community to the best of my abilities.”

On Thursday, the board voted 2-1 to select Assistant County Manager Robin Campbell as the new Interim County Manager. Campbell will serve in the role until a permanent replacement is hired.

Commissioner Gary Edwards voted against selecting Campbell. At the meeting, Edwards said he supported Assistant County Manager Rob Gelder, who started at the county in April, because he would bring a fresh face to the county’s labor negotiations.

“We’ve got major strife going on amongst our employees, and I feel that they need to be heard in getting a solution,” Edwards said. “We probably can’t have that solution, if we continue on with the exact same management that we have in place.”

Commissioner Tye Menser said he backed Campbell because of her long service to the county. He said he had confidence Campbell would be the right person under the given circumstances.

“I’m just looking for competence and a steady hand as the commissioners work through the process of hiring a new permanent county manager,” Menser said.

Campbell has worked for the county since 2010 and has many years of experience in state government, according to her LinkedIn profile. Gelder was hired as an additional assistant county manager in April. He previously served as a Kitsap County Commissioner.

Commissioner Carolina Mejia echoed Menser’s support for Campbell. Mejia said she agreed with Edwards statements and had “nothing but respect and admiration” for Gelder. However, Campbell has had more experience at the county, she said.

“I believe during this time, this next couple of months as we go through our budget deliberations, and as we finish out the year, we do need someone who has knowledge of the county processes and has that background,” Mejia said.