Last month 44 Thurston County Republican Precinct Committee Officers gathered in the Remnant Church in Tumwater for an emergency meeting. It was an official proceeding, the chair of the Thurston County Republican Party had stepped down for personal reasons. The political body needed to elect a new leader.
Something unusual occurred that evening. Major party county meetings can be contentious and long. They often draw only the most politically passionate volunteers in the county. But this meeting was short and the vote unanimous.
Corey Gauny was elected Chair of the Thurston County Republican Party without a challenger and without a “nay” in the room. Typically these meetings are extended by challenges made under Roberts Rules of Order, arguing, and confusion. Tiffany Sevruk, a North Thurston School Board Member, brought snacks for what she expected to be a lengthy meeting. After years of participating in these countywide Republican meetings, she was “dumbfounded her snacks were not required.”
Center stage is Corey Gauny, the man who inspired unity and precision within what could have been a disastrous meeting for Thurston County Republicans.
Mr. Gauny is a local business professional and supercharged community volunteer. He is the kind of guy everybody knows. The kind of man who needs bullet points to list his volunteer service commitments filling his evenings and weekends. Here are some:
It’s an impressive list of leadership in volunteerism. However, Gauny says he believes in volunteerism without a title as well. He is quick to answer calls on social media for various community tasks. One recent day he discovered an effort to clean up the woods behind Westside Lanes. Drug and homeless activity had created a hazard for young people who traverse the trails between the bowling alley and Capital High School. Gauny took his time to support the cause.
Corey Gauny retired from the U.S. Air Force after more than two decades of service. The core values of that branch of the military are Integrity, Service, and Excellence. Even though he is no longer enlisted, Gauny carries these values with him still.
It is through the lens of service that Gauny views politics, more so than ambition. In 2021 he ran for Olympia City Council, Position Number 6. He was pitted against Dontae Payne, and was trounced in the general election. In defeat, Gauny simply stated, “Dontae was a better candidate, and rightfully won the election.” Both men were cordial during the campaign; competing with respect for the other’s desire to serve and solve the issues of the day.
“Our race was very much issues-based,” said Councilmember Payne told The JOLT. “We stayed focused on that. He could have taken the bait on divisive rhetoric, but didn’t. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him in that regard. He has genuine care for the people who live in Olympia.”
About lessons learned from his run for Olympia City Council, Gauny said, “I learned that losing sucks! As with any perceived failure, there is always an opportunity to learn and grow. The only true failure is failing to learn from our experiences. I learned a great deal more about myself and my true political philosophies.”
Other benefits Gauny claimed, include, “I became more engaged in local issues and in our community. I also made some great friends in Spence Weigand and Wendy Carlson who were also candidates in that race. And perhaps the greatest thing I learned is how to listen to and respect different political views and find common ground.”
Gauny’s kind-hearted genuine nature, and commitment to service, put him at odds with the cultural food fight surrounding politics in our current cycle. His rare communicative abilities, and living example of integrity, have thrust him to leadership positions with every organization he has volunteered for.
With the election to Chair of the Thurston County Republican Party in August, Gauny is now at the head of two Republican factions that seem at odds: Both the official Republican Party, and the Mainstream Republican group.
The JOLT asked Gauny about the divide within the Republican Party and how he is managing his relationship with two organizations that are seemingly at odds.
His response: “Regardless if someone is a Democrat, a Progressive, an Independent, a Mainstream Republican or an Ever-Trumper Republican, we all have issues that we can find common ground on. While the Thurston County Republican Central Committee is a political organization, the Mainstream Republicans is a group that focuses on education and has monthly meetings that educate attendees on local candidates and issues. [Republican and former Washington Secretary of State] Sam Reed has been a mentor to me as well as my father-in-law Fred Finn [a Democrat and former state legislator]. They have helped me grow and helped me lead with compassion, kindness, and grace with a focus on always being polite and kind while governing.”
Is Corey Gauny an outlier within a broken system, or an example of healing rifts within party politics? For now he seems to be an excellent example of a community volunteer, and perhaps that is all that matters.
The opinions expressed above are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The JOLT's staff or board of directors. Got something to say about a person or topic of interest to Thurston County residents? Send it to us and we’ll most likely publish it. See the Contribute your news button at the top of every page.
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