Grays Harbor County Commissioners Kevin Pine and Jill Warne were sworn into office Tuesday evening at an inauguration ceremony at Harbor Calvary Chapel in Aberdeen.
County Auditor Joesph MacLean performed the swearing-in ceremony, which included each candidate taking an oath to uphold the state and United States constitutions, in front of approximately 40 family members, friends and campaign staff.
“We had a great turnout,” Pine said while receiving hugs from friends and family after the ceremony.”Everybody that helped with the campaign (was here). All the sign-wavers and door-knockers. … they’re part of our family now.”
“I’m a little overwhelmed and looking forward, but also nervous about what’s to come,” Warne said after being sworn-in. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Warne, a real-estate agent from Elma and first-time political candidate, garnered 57% of the vote in November to defeat Democratic candidate Jamie Nichols for Commissioner Seat 1, a position that was vacated after incumbent Wes Cormier decided to run for a state senate seat.
Pine, who was also running for office for the first time, defeated Independent incumbent Randy Ross by tallying 54% of the vote to win Seat 2.
The small-business owner and Grays Harbor College wrestling coach said the plans for the first 100 days in office are the same as the platform both he and Warne ran on to win election.
“We’re going to hit the ground running and work hard to implement the things we promised,” he said, noting issues such as tackling the needle-exchange program and bringing business to the Harbor as key points.
Warne echoed that.
“People elected us to eliminate the needle-exchange program, and that is first on our list,” she said, adding fiscal accountability as another issue she is aiming to tackle. “(I’m) looking for ways to save the county money since we are in a deficit right now. We need to tighten the purse strings.”
To prepare for taking office, Warne and Pine attended a three-day county commissioner’s training via Zoom meeting in early December, joining 40-plus other newly elected county commissioners in the state of Washington. Warne called the training “educational and eye-opening.”
“The biggest thing is we have a lot of learning and listening to do and see what we can do to make things better,” she said.
Of the 19 executive and legislative races across local, state and federal levels in the November election, Grays Harbor County voters pulled the level for Republican candidates in 15 of them, turning what had been reliably a blue Democrat-voting area to red for the first time in several decades.
The freshly minted commissioners see the shift in the vote as an opportunity rather that a weighted burden.
“I think there is more excitement that we can finally start making some changes,” Warne said. “We’re finally not going to be in the minority. So we are looking forward to being practical and trying to do what’s best for the taxpayers of Grays Harbor County.
“I’m just excited to get to work,” Pine said. “I’m going to roll my sleeves up and be a problem-solver. I’ve never believed in the idea of finding why you can’t do something. I’ve always believed in finding a way to get things done.”
Warne and Pine officially take office on Jan. 1, joining Vickie Raines, who is Seat 3 commissioner.