Clark County commissioner Marc Boldt said he has no intention of leaving the Republican Party despite being reprimanded by the party’s Clark County executive board.
In fact, the festering issues have made Boldt more determined than ever to win re-election.
“It’s made me more want to serve than ever before,” said the 57-year-old Boldt.
The issue arose in November 2011 when the GOP executive board summoned Boldt to a meeting.
“They had some concerns,” explained Boldt. “They wanted to chat.”
On the agenda was a potential tax to pay for the construction of a baseball stadium to attract a minor league baseball team. Party officials wanted Boldt to pledge that he would vote against the tax. Boldt said he told them he wouldn’t make a decision until after a hearing was held on the matter. He later voted against the tax.
After Boldt left that meeting, the executive board approved a letter reprimanding Boldt and establishing sanctions against him.
Brandon Vick, who chairs the executive board, declined to provide a copy of that letter to The Reflector Newspaper and Boldt said he had mislaid his copy.
The letter listed executive board complaints:
• That Boldt had endorsed a Democrat in an election (fellow commissioner Steve Stuart);
• That Boldt had voted against a Clark County charter plan even though such a charter was included in the party platform;
• That Boldt had voted in favor of certain tax and fee increases.
Vick said endorsing a Democrat violates a provision of party by-laws. Boldt said he was not aware of that bylaw provision. He said he endorsed Stuart six years ago without any repercussions from the Republican Party. Stuart endorsed Boldt four years ago, and Boldt endorsed Stuart again two years ago.
“They said I endorsed somebody who violates the Republican platform,” explained Boldt.
Boldt said he voted against a County charter plan last year because it would have cost $100,000 to put the issue on the ballot. He said he was unaware that the charter issue was contained in the Republican platform. He has since examined the party platform, he said.
Vick declined to identify Boldt’s tax and fee votes that were troublesome to the party. Boldt said the party’s letter listed two: his vote to put an added sales tax before voters to support C-TRAN, and his vote to increase a telephone tax to support the 9-1-1 system.
Voters approved the C-TRAN tax last fall.
Boldt said the State of Washington officials told the County to either adopt an additional 20 cent monthly phone tax or Washington State matching money would be withheld. In fact, he said, the State of Washington withheld $400,000 in matching money one year, forcing the County to use reserves. The commissioners subsequently approved the tax. The alternative, he said, was the loss of 10 9-1-1 operators.
Boldt said the party also complained about Boldt’s vote to purchase three new dump trucks.
“We spent a year looking for used ones,” said Boldt. “The party thought we could sell excess County property” to raise money for the trucks.
Because of these matters, the Republican executive board imposed “sanctions” on Boldt. Vick said that, “for the time being,” Boldt is not allowed to benefit from any party resources including its website, mailing lists or funding. Vick said Boldt will not be recognized at party events. Boldt attended the party convention in March but was not allowed to speak.
Boldt said he has never used party mailing lists. He said that the most the party has donated to his campaign in the past is $100.
In addition, Boldt is no longer an ex officio member of the executive board, which Vick described as a largely ceremonial position. Boldt said he did not know he ever was a member of that board.
Vick declined to give the actual vote count among executive board members who approved the sanctions.
Boldt said he appeared before the executive board in March to discuss the issues. “I addressed all their issues and told them why I did it,” said Boldt.
Vick affirmed that Boldt spoke before the executive board in March.
“He has expressed an interest in continuing with the party and getting the sanctions reversed,” said Vick. “The point of the sanctions was to get his attention.”
No action was taken on the sanctions at the March meeting, said Vick.
Troy Van Dinter, who previously served on the La Center City Council, resigned from the board before the March meeting.
“It turned into a witch hunt going after Marc (Boldt),” said Van Dinter in explaining his resignation. He had served on the board only two months.
Van Dinter said a plan to lift the sanctions was tabled due to lack of support. He said the executive board members were “not happy” with Boldt’s vote against the baseball stadium even though they wanted him to vote “no” and he did vote “no.”
Vick also said that Boldt hasn’t attended various party meetings.
“Frustrations have been expressed by many that he does not attend party functions,” said Vick. “Tom (Republican Commissioner Tom Mielke) is there, state legislative officials are there, but Boldt is noticeably absent.”
Boldt acknowledged that he has “missed a few” Lincoln Day Dinners conducted by the Republican Party.
Mielke voted against both the C-TRAN tax and the 9-1-1 tax, but in favor of the County charter ballot measure. Mielke also opposed the baseball stadium tax.
Committee will study sanction removal
Clark County auditor, and Republican, Greg Kimsey, who serves on the GOP executive board, said he is a member of a newly-formed committee that will study how the sanctions may be lifted.
Kimsey said a proposal was put forward on the matter, but the proposed criteria for lifting the sanctions were subjective and vague, leading to the formation of the committee. The committee has not yet met and no initial meeting is yet scheduled, he said.
Kimsey cannot recall any circumstance similar to the Boldt sanctions in Clark County Republican history.
Ogden: Democrats have “big tent”
Dan Ogden, who chaired the Clark County Democrats from 1994 until 2000, said the Democratic Party has no rules that would result in a Boldt-sanction situation.
Ogden described the Democratic Party as a “big tent” in which different points of view are tolerated.
“Democrats don’t try to discipline based on people’s views,” said Ogden, a former professor of political science at Washington State University.
He described the “party responsibility theory” of Republicans in which they want elected officials to be “rubber stamps” for the party. While Democrats “frown on” Democrats supporting Republicans, “we tolerate that kind of thing,” said Ogden.
Ogden, who has written extensively on political parties and elections, said political parties are semi-public organizations and are subject to the “arena of compromise theory” in political science.
Boldt offers his philosophy
“I’ve come to learn that county commissioners implement state law,” said Boldt. “Many times that may not be conservative. We don’t make the rules; we just implement them.”
“Local offices are hard on political parties,” said Boldt, noting that the position of county commissioner is not a very partisan job.
“There are times in your life when you’ve got to define yourself, who you are,” said Boldt. “There’s a fine line between the (political) party and governing everyone. The reprimands and sanctions have made him “uncomfortable,” he said.
Boldt will face at least one Republican challenger in this year’s primary election. Republican David Madore said he is inspired to run because Boldt has made “a long-term departure from the values and principles that should guide this County.”
Madore also cited Boldt’s endorsement of Stuart “over a good, conservative candidate.”
Boldt said that he does not plan to seek endorsement again this year from commissioner Stuart.
Boldt considers himself to be a “socially conservative Republican” and a “realistic fiscal Republican.”
Boldt served 10 years in the state legislature and then the last eight years as a Clark County commissioner.
“He (Boldt) was pretty conservative in his legislative days in Olympia,” said Vick. “Maybe being a county commissioner is a different kind of a gig.”
“He’s got that right,” said Boldt.
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