Schools leader in running for House

Republican Julie Olson joins challenge to Probst

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Ridgefield School Board Chairwoman Julie Olson has announced she will run for the 17th District legislative seat occupied by state Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver.

Olson is the second Republican to challenge Probst. Republican Mike Appel, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for Clark County treasurer, is also bidding for the position.

Olson said she wants the position because she’s fed up with the slow progress state lawmakers made this year attempting to pass a supplemental budget. She also said she’s frustrated by Democrats’ recent education policies.

“One party controls all three branches of state government, but they can’t pass a balanced budget on time,” Olson, 48, said in a statement. “We can’t keep holding our kids hostage in the state budget process. The culture of failure in Olympia must be changed.”

She said her platform includes funding basic education first while balancing the state budget and promoting budget reform “so we can do more with less,” she said in the statement.

Olson did not return phone calls Friday from The Columbian.

Olson has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Idaho and has worked as a sales manager for a laboratory supply distribution company.

She was elected to the Ridgefield School Board in 2005 and has served as chairwoman of the board for the past four years.

Residents of Ridgefield belong to the 18th District, but the school district boundary is wider and stretches into the 17th Legislative District, where Olson lives.

Olson announced her intentions to run against Probst while she was at the Clark County Republicans’ convention on March 31.

After failing to reach a budget agreement by the end of this year’s regular Legislative session on March 8, state lawmakers entered a 30-day special session to continue their fiscal debate. As of Friday, the legislators still had no budget agreement, and the special session ends on Tuesday.

On the afternoon of March 2, minority Senate Republicans gained support from three conservative Senate Democrats and used an uncommon procedural move to pass their own budget. This newer budget stalled in the House, which has a stronger Democratic majority.

Democrats have blamed that recent Republican takeover of the state Senate’s budget proposal for causing the special session, while Republicans have pointed a finger at Democrats for spending time on a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523; http://twitter.com/col_politics;http://facebook.com/reportermathieu;stevie.mathieu@columbian.com.