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Mayoral hopeful of Oakville wants to lure tourists with timber town vision

OAKVILLE — Oakville City Councilman Thomas Sims is about to become mayor of the tiny town by default as no one has chosen to run against him.

Sims has been a council member for three years. He filed to run against the mayoral seat occupied by Charles Norskog, who opted not to file for re-election.

“I had heard he might not run so I decided to try my luck to give back to the city that has given so much to me over the years,” Sims said.

Baring a strong write-in campaign from someone else, the mayor’s post will be his.

Sims lives and works in Oakville and says he’s a fan of an old concept that could drive tourists to the city by using a downtown improvement project to make it into an old-fashion “timber town.”

“It’s a plan that’s been on the books for 13 years,” Sims said. “And, you know, we are an old logging timber town so it’s not much of a stretch. It just takes commitment — and money. And I want to try and get that ball rolling. Highway 12 connects so many people to the ocean and we just need to give them a reason to stop.”

Sims said he’s also excited that Timberland Regional Library is working with the Oakville School District on bringing a new, full-scale library into the school.

But, he says, he’s nervous that so many businesses are leaving town.

“We’ve lost most of our business base,” he said. About the only new businesses in town are a BBQ joint that took over the spot of a Mexican restaurant that closed down and the two marijuana dispensaries/collective gardens that have chosen to locate in town.

“We used to have just one, but now another one opened up next to the hardware store,” he said.

Sims moved to the city with his parents when he was about 4 years old. He grew up in the city and took a job at Santa’s Forest, a warehouse in the city that imports Christmas ware for hardware stores and other regional stores.

He’ll be 27 years old in June. And, when sworn into office come January, he’ll be the youngest mayor on Grays Harbor.

“I have a lot of enthusiasm for this job and I just really want to help and make a difference here,” he said.