By Pat Jenkins
Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, the first non-Tacoman to serve in the office, has reached outside the county's largest city in appointing his top assistants.
One of them comes from south Pierce County. Carol Mitchell, who lives in Frederickson, is the new director of justice services and special projects.
Dammeier, a state legislator from Puyallup until his election last November as county executive, officially assumed the position at a swearing-in ceremony Jan. 3. The week before, he announced his appointments for an “executive team” that he promised will listen to a wide variety of perspectives from all constituencies.
Dammeier’s top aide is Dan Grimm, whose title is chief operating officer. Grimm, an east county resident, was the state treasurer from 1988 to 1996 and was a state representative for the same Puyallup-area legislative district that Dammeier served as a representative and a senator. Dammeier noted that Grimn led efforts to improve the state’s credit rating and the management of state pension funds.
Mitchell is joining county government after working for Metro Parks Tacoma as chief organizational development officer. In that role, she developed strategy and policy in employee and labor relations, human resources, internships, volunteer management and employee training. She has college degrees in sociology from the University of Washington and organizational systems from Seattle University, and a juris doctor degree from Seattle University School of Law.
Dammeier’s other executive appointments, who like their boss, Mitchell and Grimm have ties outside Tacoma, include:
• Don Anderson as senior counsel, military liaison and veterans’ services. Anderson is an attorney with a Tacoma law firm, a member of the Lakewood City Council, and a former Navy judge advocate general (the highest-ranking uniformed lawyer). He’s originally from Puyallup.
• Brian Hardtke as director of policy and deputy counsel. Hardtke, who graduated from Gonzaga University Law School, lives in Puyallup and was a legislative and policy analyst for the state Department of Licensing. He also was a policy analyst for Republican state representatives.
• Chris Cooley as special assistant for budget and finance/special projects. A county resident for about 20 years, his prior local and state government experience was with Washington’s Legislature and the City of Chicago.
• Sarah Pollock as director of constituent services. The Pierce County native managed Dammeier’s campaign for county executive and previously was a legislative assistant for state Rep. Hans Zeiger, who was elected in November to the Senate seat that Dammeier gave up to run for executive.
Dammeier said he and his “talented management team are eager to get to work.”
Other changes may be coming in the county administration that’s now led by Dammeier. Karras Consulting, an Olympia-based firm that specializes in executive search for the public sector, is expected to issue a report soon after evaluating department directors and other county government managers. Karras was hired for the review by Pat McCarthy while she was still county executive. McCarthy, prevented by term limits from running for re-election last year, won a race for state auditor and is beginning her new duties this month.
Dammeier said he’s “grateful” for McCarthy's “commitment to a smooth transition," including her hiring of Karras for the personnel review.
In addition to being the first Pierce County executive who doesn’t live in Tacoma, Dammeier is only the second Republican – and the first since 2000 – to hold the office since it was created 35 years ago by the county’s switch to a home-rule form of government headed by an elected executive.