New chairwoman takes reins of county’s GOP

By SUSANNA RAY

Herald Writer

The new Snohomish County Republican Party chairwoman has old-fashioned plans for helping her party grow: face-to-face contact with volunteers.

"There were a lot of PCOs (precinct committee officers) that felt we needed to get back to grass-roots politics," Frauna Hoglund said Thursday, adding she will focus during the next two years on personal contact with the county’s precinct committee officers and other volunteers.

That strategy helped Hoglund wallop two-year chairman Jerry Miller in Wednesday night’s contest. She received 58 percent of the 176 votes cast by Republican precinct committee officers at the organizational meeting, compared with Miller’s 30 percent and Terry Laxton’s 12 percent.

The change in leadership was expected, former longtime county GOP chairman Paul Elvig said.

"That’s not uncommon, especially after an election where there have been some losses," Elvig said. "And let’s face it, the state Republican Party has not done as good as the national party."

Miller said his loss was "without a doubt" because of the party’s poor showing in last month’s election.

But the party actually picked up a seat in the county this year. Republican Barry Sehlin beat incumbent Democrat Dave Anderson in the 10th District, which includes Snohomish and Island counties.

"There were other factors," Hoglund said.

Various Republican lawmakers and party members have told The Herald privately in the past year that Miller has been difficult to work with, especially for volunteers.

There also may have been some trickle-down effect from problems at the state level.

Kathleen Baxter, a precinct committee officer from Edmonds, said there was discussion about asking for state GOP chairman Don Benton’s resignation, but when the meeting went late, a decision was made to deal with that issue at the district level. Benton has come under fire for allegedly misusing the party’s funds, which some say contributed to the poor election showing.

Hoglund, 62, was born and raised in Everett. She’s been active in the party for more than 20 years and served as the local vice chairwoman two years ago.

John Wynn, who was picked as vice chairman, is a former state representative from the 39th Legislative District, which includes most of Snohomish County east of I-5.

Hoglund said she’ll work to unify the party during her unpaid term, which begins immediately. She’s responsible for leading Snohomish County Republicans, including recruiting candidates and building the party’s membership and visibility.

Her biggest battle, Elvig said, will be to keep Rep. Renee Radcliff’s seat in the Legislature. Radcliff, a Mukilteo Republican, resigned after winning the election last month. A Republican will be appointed to take her place for the upcoming session, but will then face election next fall.

The House is split evenly now, so if a Democrat beats the Republican next year, Democrats will control the governor’s office and both chambers of the Legislature in 2002.

"That will turn all the attention in this state to the 21st Legislative District," Elvig said. "It’s an awesome responsibility for this county chair."

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