Another candidate has thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming Grays Harbor County Commission race. Keith Olson announced Friday that he’ll run as a Republican for Herb Welch’s soon-to-be-vacant seat.
Welch, a Republican, won’t seek re-election, citing health issues. Olson will be the third candidate seeking election to the position. Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines announced in November that she’ll run as a third party candidate and Wishkah resident Al Smith announced in February that he’ll run as a Democrat.
Olson, 63, is a lifelong Quinault resident and works in the timber industry. He’s also a former football and women’s basketball coach of his alma mater, Quinault High School, and former women’s basketball coach for Grays Harbor College.
Olson is a well-known opponent of the Wild Olympics campaign — that’s part of his motivation for seeking office.
“It’s the Wild Olympics and the spotted owl, they’re both job killers,” Olson said. “You look back to the spotted owl, and since then all of our jobs have gone.”
He said he doesn’t trust the current federal, state and county governments to help the situation — and he’s especially wary of the National Park Service’s management of the Olympic National Park.
“The park’s future plans and proposals aren’t going to help,” Olson said. “They’re going to decrease tourism by closing trails.”
“It seems like the private citizens up here are being attacked from all angles by the government,” Olson said.
Olson and his neighbors have been embroiled in a battle with the National Park Service for several years regarding changes to the Quinault River. He said river’s change in course was caused by the parks service’s manipulation of Finley Creek, a tributary of the Quinault River.
Changes in the Quinault River have resulted in the loss of a house and several acres of property. National Park Service officials said it’s nearly impossible to tell whether changes to the river are the result of Finley Creek manipulation.
If elected, Olson said he hopes to help stimulate job growth in Grays Harbor County. He said he only recently decided to run for the position, and he’s still working out the details.