Lee Grose sworn in to fill vacant East Lewis County commissioner seat

November 17 — Francis Lee Grose is back to work.

The former two-term Lewis County Commissioner was sworn in to begin serving the final year of Gary Stamper’s term on Wednesday. Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler was sworn in in a brief morning ceremony.

“It’s just good to regain your strength at this point. It causes a lot more worry when you only have two people. If one gets sick you can’t do business efficiently,” said Lindsey Pollock, Lewis County Commissioner. The appointment of Grose. “It is important for me that the people of the 3rd arrondissement have their full voice.”

Stamper died of COVID-19 at the end of September and Pollock and his fellow commissioner Sean Swope have led the shorthanded commission ever since.

Clad in a suit and wearing a Washington State Cougar-themed mask, tie and pin, Grose quickly took over the role of commissioner at a meeting of directors that s ‘is held only 30 minutes after its swearing-in.

He will represent the same seat he left vacant seven years ago to retire.

Grose, 71, said he saw himself at the time as a “peacemaker” who would work to bridge the gap between his fellow commissioners. Today, he sees his role as something similar – just with two new faces by his side.

“I think they’re really good people,” Grose said of Pollock and Swope during an interview with The Chronicle in his new office. “I think we all share a passion for voters and I think that’s what’s really important. I don’t want to lose that in any way. I want to maintain a thought process that says, ‘Les citizens come first, and then we can work on this other stuff. ‘ But we have to do what’s best for the citizens of Lewis County. “

Speaking of new faces, Grose said one of the challenges the county will face over the next year will be replacing many of the retiring staff members. When he was originally a member of the County Commissioners Council, the average age of an employee was around 55, he said.

“It’s tricky. We’re going to find ourselves in a position where we’ll probably have to replace a lot of middle managers,” Grose said, noting that he “hopes there will be people who are willing to step up and do this work. . “

His goals over the next year as he takes over this role are to build a better county government; help keep Commissioners up to date on what is happening in District 3, which includes most of East Lewis County; and to properly serve the interests of voters and businesses.

Although his daily commute from Packwood is a 150 mile round trip, Grose said he plans to stay engaged by attending meetings in person and via video.

Grose, who is vaccinated against COVID-19, said he does not plan to run for another term after Stamper’s term ends, adding that it would be “a lot of pain” to stay so busy this late in the day. retirement.

“It’s not a reluctance to do the job, it’s just the fact that I don’t think I would be able to do the job for another four years,” he said, noting that “he has had its day “.

His son, who lives in Idaho, is battling cancer, a priority for him and his wife, Janice Grose, 71.

Grose said retirement was working well for them after selling his business, Packwood Ace Hardware, a few years ago. So far, the days had been filled with traveling to see family, work on their property, and even serve on smaller county committees. He was also involved with Lewis County Republicans.

He took the time to reflect on the decision to serve the remainder of Stamper’s term. He said members of the community and his supporters urged him to seek the seat after Stamper’s death on September 29.

“I didn’t jump on it. I didn’t say ‘Oh yeah, I’m going in.’ I said, you know, maybe for a year I could do it, but probably no longer than that, ”Grose said.

Grose said Stamper was the “right fit” for the Lewis County commissioner job. Grose said he looks forward to representing East County and hopes to match the same spirit the former commissioner brought to the table.

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