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Lonergan, O’Brien for assessor-treasurer; Washam out

3:57 am August 8th, 2012

A five-candidate field for Pierce County assessor-treasurer is down to the final two after Tuesday’s primary election, and the incumbent isn’t one of them.

Mike Lonergan and Billie O’Brien stood first and second, respectively, in results released by the county elections department. Lonergan had a large lead with 40.1 percent of the total votes that were cast, while O’Brien had 24 percent. Barring an unexpected change in the trend of voting that ended Tuesday, those two will meet again in the general election in November to decide who holds the mostly administrative office for the next four years.

Dale Washam, who has held the office in controversial fashion since being elected in 2008, was fourth in results Tuesday with 10.7 percent of the votes.

During his tenure, Washam was the target of an attempted recall last year. A citizen group’s petition drive fell 1,317 signatures short of the necessary number of registered voters to force a recall election to decide if he could stay in office .

The recall effort stemmed from claims filed by current or former employees under Washam who alleged mistreatment by him. The claims have led to seven-figure financial settlements by the county.

During the primary election, Washam was in the unique position of having one of his agency’s employees – O’Brien – running against him. She isn’t one of the workers who filed claims.

O’Brien: 63, has worked in the assessor-treasurer office for 21 years, the last nine as administrative manager. That role gives her management responsibility for all functions that don’t directly involve appraisal. She also has been a residential appraisal supervisor, chief deputy assessor-treasurer and an appraiser.

Lonergan, 62, works as executive director of Youth Marine Foundation, a non-profit organization. He was executive director of Tacoma Rescue Mission for 12 years, which he claims makes him the most experienced among candidates with executive background. Lonergan also is a former Tacoma City Council member.

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