Schubert won't run for Clallam County commissioner against Tharinger

By Diane Urbani de la Paz, Peninsula Daily News

June 8, 2007

SEQUIM, WA - After months of pestering and speculation from political observers, after deciding he fiercely wanted to run for Clallam County commissioner and after listing problems he'd tackle in office, Sequim Mayor Walt Schubert did the opposite of what many predicted.

Schubert announced Thursday afternoon he will not run against incumbent Commissioner Steve Tharinger, the Democrat from Dungeness.

"This was very emotional for me, a very difficult decision to make," said Schubert, 67, who has served on the Sequim City Council for seven years, five of them as mayor of the city of 5,030.

"I'll certainly work with the mayor on issues," said Tharinger, who declared his bid for re-election earlier this week.

"Walt has worked hard for the city of Sequim."

Schubert has said Clallam County's three commissioners have shown a lack of leadership in several areas, sewer construction and planning for expansion of Battelle's Marine Research Operations laboratory among them.

"There's nothing I want to do more, besides take care of my family, than this," he said, referring to a run for commissioner.

"But I was elected to a four-year term," on the Sequim City Council, and that term doesn't expire until 2009.

So, Schubert said, his work there must take precedence.

Planning for growth
If the population growth rate in Sequim continues at 5 percent per year, he said, then the city will be home to 15,456 people by 2015.

"I want to be part of the team that plans for that growth."

Schubert emphasized that he wants to work on bringing family-wage jobs and clean industry to Sequim, and continue the economic development that pours sales tax revenue into the city's purse.

By the end of last year, that revenue had risen 14.5 percent in Sequim, compared with a 6.7 percent increase statewide and Clallam County's sales-tax revenue rise of 2.2 percent.

Schubert said he wants to see county leaders "work with the cities, instead of against us," to expand infrastructure, preserve farmland and open space, confront the problems of homelessness and rising housing costs, create well-paying jobs and perhaps even establish a county parks and recreation district.

Sequim is "a little tiny town" that provides parkland for many thousands of people outside its city limit - and it could use help from Clallam County in building recreation programs.

"That's a city function," Tharinger said Thursday.

But if Sequim presented the commissioners with some kind of proposal for a parks-and-recreation collaboration, "we'd certainly take a look at it."

Tharinger, who declared his bid for re-election earlier this week, added that the county commissioners are making progress on the sewer and Battelle expansion fronts, despite past poor communications among local governments.

"I believe that Commissioner Tharinger's heart is in the right place. We have some ideology differences," Schubert said, adding that to him, Tharinger's decisions seem driven by "an anti-growth feeling."

"I've never been anti-growth. I've always been for managed growth, smart growth," the commissioner responded.

"It's hard work," preserving the elements that "make this a great place to live."

Maybe in 2011
Schubert said he won't rule out a run for county office in 2011.

Meantime, he'll continue to run his business, Action Property Management, which he said "has suffered greatly with this mayor thing."

While City Council members are paid $150 per month, the mayor makes $250.

This summer, Schubert promised, he and his wife, Sherry, will "walk the town again, listening to the people of Sequim."

The mayor acknowledged that he's come under fire during his time in city government.

People around Clallam County have blamed him for too-rapid development in Sequim, in some cases surmising that he's a real estate agent with a vested interest in subdivision proliferation.

In fact Schubert hasn't sold real estate since the early 1990s, when he moved to Sequim from Menlo Park, Calif.

He and Sherry had planned to retire here and bought five acres "with cows and chickens."

"It got to be too much. We moved into town," Schubert said.

He opened Action Property Management in 1993.

Sherry, who volunteers as a chef at the Salvation Army soup kitchen in Port Angeles, has not always enjoyed being the mayor's wife, Schubert added.

"It's been hard on her, when there are letters to the editor that say things about me that are untrue and unfounded."

Finally, the mayor issued a plea for more input - in a formal setting.

"The most frustrating thing about being on the City Council is that people don't come to the meetings. They say, 'You don't listen to us if we do come,' and that's malarkey."

Sequim Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or



Schubert comments on GOP, number of commissioners

Friday, June 8, 2007
Peninsula News Network

Sequim, WA - Sequim Mayor Walt Schubert says criticism from some county residents for Sequim’s rapid growth didn’t enter into his decision to not run for Clallam County commissioner this year.

But Schubert believes Clallam County Republicans should get back to local issues and working on local campaigns.

Schubert made those observations Thursday as he discussed his decision not to run as a Republican for East End county commissioner this fall. Schubert had been actively exploring a run for at least the past four years, and had spent the last several months with accelerated research into a campaign.

That caused a good deal of local speculation as to Schubert’s chances, especially since many of the critics of Sequim’s rapid growth live outside the city limits.

However, Schubert says that didn’t enter into his decision, which he says was based on a desire to continue working on Sequim issues, focusing on his business and his family.

Schubert had discussed a run with local GOP leaders, but there hadn’t been much evidence of Republicans pushing him to file. The mayor says he did have the support, although he believes the GOP should be focusing more on local races and less on national issues.

Schubert and incumbent Commissioner Steve Tharinger had been shooting barbs at one another for the past four years as it appeared Schubert was gearing up to run against the Sequim Democrat. Schubert was very critical of what called the county’s “lack of leadership”, although he hopes his decision not to run against Tharinger will help mend some fences.

Asked whether the county’s Home Rule Charter should be amended to have more than three commissioners, Schubert thinks expanding the board to five members is a good idea.

He also likes the idea of making the job non-partisan.


Schubert won’t run
Thursday, June 7, 2008
Peninsula News Network

Sequim Mayor Walt Schubert has ended months of speculation, saying he won’t enter the race for Clallam County commissioner.Schubert-decision0000.jpg

Schubert, who’s been on the city council for 8-years and Sequim mayor for the past 6, had been exploring the idea of running ever since the last District 1 race in 2003. That research had intensified late last year, as Schubert discussed a possible run for the seat with friends, community leaders and political supporters.

At a press conference in his Sequim home Thursday afternoon, Schubert had criticism for what he called the county’s “lack of leadership” on issues like economic growth, infrastructure improvements and planning. But he told reporters he couldn’t step away from things he’s already doing as mayor, his property management business and his family.

Filing for the county commissioner’s race against incumbent Steve Tharinger ends Friday. Asked why he waited until the 1tth hour to announce his plans, Schubert said it simply came down to the amount of time it took to make what he called “an emotional decision”.

Schubert’s decision leaves local Republicans hanging as far as having an opponent to thwart Tharinger’s bid for a third term.



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