Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
March, 2017
Subscribe to Newsletter
Search Past Articles
Browse Available Editions
This Month's Articles

Family Roots and a Passion for Public Service

It’s all about the people!

Sheriff Holds Recognition Ceremonies

Congratulations for Two Longtime Judges

County Permit Assistant Center Expands Hours

Mark Twain at Lighthouse Hall in New Whatcom

Thurston County Home
Send Editorial Feedback
to Meghan Porter
Problems using this site?
Contact the Webmaster
Website Disclaimer
 It’s all about the people!

Meet new County Commissioner John Hutchings.

Commissioner John “Hutch” Hutchings is a people person through and through. He loves to help people, which his career has reflected, and is interested in building relationships with those around him.

If you ask Hutch about working he will tell you “I take my job seriously, but I don’t take myself seriously.” Which, if you have met him, you know he is very funny and is always cracking jokes, but is also very serious about his work and how he can help people.

Hutch has dedicated much of his life to civil service. His successful 35 year career in law enforcement included 27 years with the Olympia Police Department, three years as Chief of Police in Tenino, with his career beginning as a police officer in 1980 in the City of Orange, California.

Running for District #1 Commissioner

Commissioner Hutchings has never considered himself political. He said, “I spent 35 years being apolitical as a police officer and then people were telling me I needed to run for commissioner, a very political position. It seemed almost silly to me.” But he is so grateful that the people who believed in him, convinced him that this was where he needed to be, to help the county.

After being recruited by several people in the community, he spent a bit of time soul searching and talking with his family about how this may affect them. He went through a process with his wife, kids, and even his grandkids. He wanted to know how they felt about it and how it may impact them. When they all agreed that this was a great move, and his wife by his side as his biggest supporter, he decided to run for the position.

His reputation of integrity, as well as his passion for helping people, drove his campaign forward. He feels so blessed he sits in a position where he can make a real difference for the members of the community.

First 60 days…

While January 1st was Hutch’s first day, he began training in December. He said, “These first few months have been less like a firehose and more like water boarding…I’m still trying to catch my breath!” He has felt information overload but is beginning to sort things out and prioritize. He said that at first everything was very blurry but it is becoming clearer in how all the aspects of county relate to each other.

Commissioner Hutchings sits on various committees and boards, including the Thurston-Mason Behavioral Health Organization governing board. As he learns more about the BHO, he sees how it relates with the Board of Commissioners and Board of Health. He is beginning to understand that everything is connected and we need the various entities (with an overwhelming amount of acronyms!) to work cohesively as a county government. He said, “Now I see that if you make one change in one system, it is going to have impacts on other systems. That is something we, as a Board, really need to be cognizant of as we make decisions.”

He did make sure that he gave a shout out to his assistant Kelli Kennedy. He said that she is what is keeping him successful. “She is super impressive! She has skill sets I didn’t even know I needed when I was interviewing her.” He said, “I am impressed with all the executive assistants in this office. I didn’t realize what they did but now I see how much they really keep their commissioners in line…it’s pretty amazing!”

Surprise…you are now a commissioner!

“One thing I did not realize when I took this job was how busy I would be,” he said. “My calendar is packed and I am doing stuff all over the county, but I love it!” He was very adamant to say that he did not realize what commissioners really did until he stepped into this position. He didn’t know the breadth of responsibilities and commitments they really undertake and is impressed with the amount of topics he covers each day.

He was also surprised by the difference in his previous management role to serving as the commissioner. “After 35 years of here is a problem, here is a solution, now fix it, to this role where we see an issue, are presented with solutions, make decisions, then begin the process,” he said. “It’s frustrating! I have checked some boxes to begin the process but the engine is still just idling because of the process.” While he finds it very frustrating, he understands and appreciates the purpose of the process. He understands the need for public and staff input and knows that without it, he could not do his job.

People Are a Priority…

Hutch’s priority for his first year in office is simple- people. People being the employees, people being our citizens, people being our most vulnerable populations. “I want to take care of our employees,” he said. “I want to say, by doing A-G, I was instrumental in getting the economic engine of this county going to bring in revenue to get help for our employees.” He wants his employees to have the resources they need to do the very important job of serving the citizens in Thurston County.

He also wants to focus on a holistic approach to helping the most disadvantaged and disenfranchised members of our community. He recently attended the 10th anniversary of the Quixote Village and really heard a calling to work more toward helping this vulnerable population and developing policies that work for them, not against them. He said, “This has always been important to me, but now in this role, it is something I am going to really focus on. This population needs a voice.”


I just wanted to give a final word of welcome to Commissioner Hutchings! We are happy you decided to take that leap of faith and run for commissioner…we look forward to seeing what you do in the next four years!

Photo number one- Howling along with Alaskan Malamute Freya, who he met while doorbelling
Photo two- Happy smiles in between takes at Thurston Community Media
Photo three- Olympia Downtown Association day of clean up with Superior Judge Carol Murphy

By Meghan Porter

Having a howling good time. Having a howling good time.

John at the Thurston Community Media TV studios. John at the Thurston Community Media TV studios.

Judge Murphy with Hutch. Judge Murphy with Hutch.