Several Lewis County Republicans Officers Call for Chair's Resignation Following 'Inappropriate Behavior'

May 6—Several precinct committee officers (PCOs) with the Lewis County Republicans have called for local party chair Brandon Svenson's resignation, citing an ongoing pattern of "inappropriate behavior."

Svenson is also the mayor of Winlock. He has been enrolled in the Morton Police Department Reserve Academy since Jan. 10 and is training to be a reserve police officer for the Toledo Police Department.

"Over the past year, it has become apparent that our chair, Brandon Svenson, has been unwilling to act appropriately as chair of the Lewis County Republican Party. Our executive board members have discussed his behavior with him on numerous occasions, but it has not improved and, in fact, has become worse," stated seven PCOs in a formal letter dated May 3 to the party's other PCOs. "We have tried to discuss these concerns with Brandon for over a year now. But it is time to ask him to step down from this position. We need a chair who is even-handed and respectful. We need a chair who doesn't belittle other Republicans."

The letter — signed by State Committeeman Ron Averill, State Committeewoman Ruth Peterson, Secretary Sharra Finley, Treasurer Jeanne Hall, former executive board member Penny Mauel and former chairs Colleen Morse and Fred Rider — specifically cites Svenson's behavior during Lewis County Republicans' monthly meeting held in Winlock the day prior.

Video from that meeting shows Svenson, who was wearing an official T-shirt from incumbent Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza's re-election campaign, arguing with sheriff candidate and Centralia Police Department sergeant Tracy Murphy from the podium before wadding up a letter written by Murphy and throwing it at him.

"That is a childish and totally inappropriate action," stated the PCOs.

In addition to throwing the letter, the precinct officers called Svenson out for the "contempt and disrespect" he showed Murphy both during that May 2 meeting and a March 7 meeting where Svenson reportedly made "contemptuous accusations" against Murphy.

Aside from his conduct toward Murphy, the precinct officers called Svenson out for refusing to acknowledge a board member "who was asking for a point of information to stop the inappropriate behavior," according to the letter.

"The refusal was deliberate, and as the person responsible for running the meeting according to Robert's Rules of Order, he abdicated his duty," stated the precinct officers in the letter. "The chair of the party is the person who oversees the meeting. The role is not that of a dictator and that role has no power to force the board to do his will. There are rules to be followed, but our current chairman did not adhere to them, and has increasingly ignored the board's express requests and decisions."

According to the letter, Svenson recently "demanded" a precinct officers meeting "without the vote of the board" to endorse a specific candidate for sheriff.

"This is after PCOs were called to vote just a short time ago and voted that we would not be suspending our bylaws to endorse a candidate. Not only did he not have the power for that action, he wasn't even willing to take input from his board on the matter," stated the PCOs in the letter.

PCOs are allowed to individually endorse specific candidates, but the executive board is not.

"It is acceptable if a person who is not in leadership wishes to endorse or actively campaign for one candidate, but that person may not do so if he or she is an executive board member. Anyone who actively rejects a Republican candidate should never be the chair of our party or even part of the executive board," stated the PCOs in the letter.

The letter was a formal request for Svenson to resign, Averill told The Chronicle on Friday.

"Frankly, I do not expect that he will do so," he said.

If Svenson does not resign, Averill said he and the other PCOs who signed the letter will call a meeting of all 50 or so Lewis County Republicans PCOs for a vote on whether to oust Svenson from the chairman position.

The letter writers will decide this month whether to call that meeting, Averill said. The meeting will take place 20 days after that decision date in order to give all PCOs adequate notice to attend.

Svenson could not be reached for comment. A Chronicle reporter placed a call to his direct line but his voicemail was not accepting new messages.