Less than a week in office and there’s already been a major personnel shift under the new Thurston County commissioners.
Interim county manager Ramiro Chavez confirmed Friday that he was directed by the three-member board to ask for the resignation of Tom Stuebner, director of Thurston County Public Health and Social Services.
“Art Starry, manager of the Public (Environmental) Health Division, will serve as the interim director, until the Board of County Commissioners finds a permanent replacement,” county spokeswoman Meghan Porter said.
Stuebner was hired a year ago after a national search.
Porter said the commissioners voted to ask for Stuebner’s resignation during a public meeting this week.
“We are taking this recruitment very seriously to ensure we are hiring the best person to fill this very important position,” County Commissioner Bud Blake said in a news release announcing Stuebner’s departure. “We will be posting the position to our job listings as soon as we have had an opportunity to review the job specifications.”
Blake told The Olympian that the commissioners want to take the department in a new direction and are “looking for a person to take that role.”
After years of being controlled by Democrats, Thurston County government is now being run by three commissioners elected as political independents. The two newest commissioners, John Hutchings and Gary Edwards, campaigned on promises to shake up county government to make it more efficient and customer friendly.
The commissioners’ first week was busy and included a budget briefing, an overview on the Habitat Conservation Plan to protect the threatened Mazama pocket gopher, and a meet-and-greet with new employees.
The commissioners also elected Blake as chairman of the Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Health. Hutchings will serve as vice chairman.
Hutchings was selected as president and Edwards vice president of the Transportation Benefit District.
The commissioners oversee the following departments: Public Health and Social Services, Resource Stewardship, Public Works, Central Services, Human Resources and the Office of Public Defense.
“At this point, I am not aware of any other immediate personnel changes,” Chavez said.
That includes his own fate. Chavez is director of Public Works, but has served as interim county manager since that role was vacated last summer by Cliff Moore, who left to become manager of the city of Yakima. County engineer Scott Lindblom is serving as interim Public Works director.