GARDINER — For the past 18 years, Wayne King has been going to meetings, more meetings than he can count. They have taken him all across the state representing the Jefferson County Public Utility District. He’s logged a lot of miles.
“Never did I think I would be in this thing for three terms,” said King, 77, who has decided not to run for reelection.
King said he won his first contest in 2000 with 60 percent of the vote. He ran unopposed in 2006 and 2012.
King, a Gardiner resident, plans to spend time at his hydraulic machine shop building race car motors and consulting on race car tuning. King is a retired drag racer who built and raced Top Fuel dragsters across the nation.
“After much consideration and conversations with my wife, Peggy, I have decided to retire and not seek re-election. I know some of my supporters are very disappointed that I am retiring,” he said.
“Some are happy that I am.
“It’s time for some young blood to take the reins of District 3. We have twice the number of people living in the county than in the city. Let’s hope the new commissioner can see this.
”I have always tried to put the county dwellers at the front and top of the class. This is a non-partisan position.”
Daniel Toepper will face Tom Brotherton for King’s seat in the Nov. 6 election. District 3 covers Gardiner, Discovery Bay, Brinnon, Port Ludlow, Quilcene and the West End.
King said he, his fellow commissioners and former General Manager Jim Parker have had many successes during his tenure.
The PSE purchase and transition were especially important to him and to the county, he said.
When King was first elected, the PUD had 2,100 water and sewer customers. In 2013, county residents voted to sever a century-old relationship with Puget Sound Energy that resulted in the PUD offering electrical power to its East Jefferson County customers. The utility now serves 19,000 customers.
He also talked of success with the water system on Marrowstone Island, the water and sewer system at Kala Point, the Beckett Point sewer system and the Coyle water system acquisition.
King, who served on the Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) board of directors, also said that the stage has been set for the future with broadband and fiber by insuring all new construction in the county brings in extra conduit to simplify future telecom installations. Wireless and fiber optic service is available on Marrowstone Island, and the downtown Port Townsend telecom project assists local internet service providers in purchasing wholesale broadband.
“In my 18 years, the only thing I’m leaving is the failure of the board to move ahead with smart meters. This will definitely happen sooner than later, “ King said.
It all started with the water for the commissioner.
“My pioneer family settled in Gardiner. My aunt, Daisy King, owned the property where the Gardiner well is, across from the Levine Sawmill. In 1979, she made a deal to sell the water rights. We have water tanks by the cemetery up on the hill. We have more hydrants per mile than any fire district in the state. And they all work.
“We’ve been in state water contests and can’t get beyond second place. We have the best water in the county, by far, because of a spring. There isn’t anything in our water…it’s really pure.”
King met privately with staff at the PUD on Friday to tell them the news of his retirement.
“I think the world of the crew at the PUD. I went around and talked to the staff and had some truly heart-felt conversations. They are gonna miss me as much as I will miss them. ”
King said he hopes to play a part in the mix somehow in the future.
“I’ve tried my damnedest to do what I’ve felt is the best for the people,” King said. “I like to drive around to the back of the building and look at the inventory, the trucks. It overwhelms me…where we are now and where we came from. I think of the people who helped us get there.
“We’ve done a good job.”