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New Commissioner Neatherlin sworn in

Belfair Herald of Belfair, Washington

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For the first time in more than 30 years, a Belfair resident will sit on the Mason County Board of Commissioners.

Randy Neatherlin was sworn into office representing Mason County's commission District 1 on Dec. 27 at the Theler Community Center in Belfair.

About 100 people showed up at the center to welcome Neatherlin into office.

"I'm absolutely touched," he said.

Neatherlin is the first Belfair resident to be elected to the county commission since Tom Taylor in the 1970s.

He was elected in November with nearly 53 percent of the vote over Denny Hamilton. District 1 includes much of the North Mason area. Mason County District Court Judge Victoria Meadows swore in Neatherlin.

She called Neatherlin's election a "momentous" event for the voters of Belfair.

She noted that Neatherlin won the vote countywide - not just within his district.

"The voters of the county as a whole elected you," Meadows said.

Neatherlin said he had planned to have a quiet swearing-in ceremony, but soon realized the voters of Belfair wanted to celebrate his election with him.

"I didn't think anybody wanted to see this or be a part of it - I got an education," he said.

Rather than being sworn in at the Mason County commission chambers as is customary, Neatherlin asked to be sworn in at the Theler Center in Belfair, in the district he represents.

"This isn't my seat, it's your seat," he said to the group. "It has been a long time in coming."

Neatherlin told the crowd he would make representing the specific needs of Belfair a priority on the commission.

"They say that an honest politician is one who has been bought and stays bought," he said. "I'm bought and staying bought."

He also thanked his supporters and friends in the area for "all the love and affection anyone could ever ask for" over the years.

Taylor, the last person elected from Belfair to the county commission, attended the event. He said in an interview that he had faith in Neatherlin.

"I think he'll do an excellent job," he said. "I think he's got people at heart."

Neatherlin saidhisfirstpriority in office will involve improving customer service to "start to improve the process of making customer service the No. 1 priority of county staff." He also plans to look through the county's 2013 budget to find more funding for law enforcement in the county.

Neatherlin said he would be in favor of having a physical location for county offices in Belfair so North Mason residents would not have to travel to Shelton to visit, for example, the county treasurer's office.

"I would be pushing for that immediately," he said."We need to have these services here."

Neatherlin also said he plans to spend time meeting with constituents in Belfair at an office donated by John L. Scott Realty.

Neatherlin can remain in his position as a Port of Allyn commissioner until the end of 2013. He plans to stay on the commission for the time being, while completing several projects, including the planning process of a commercial water system in Allyn.

"I cannot take a chance of anything killing that because it's the future of... development in Allyn," he said. "We're at the very last stage of finalizing an official water plan."

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Original Publication Date: January 3, 2013

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