Clark County Councilor Julie Olson announced Monday that she will not seek reelection in November.
“Serving as Clark County Councilor District 2 has been one of the great honors of my life. Serving our community for the last 6½ years has had great challenges and rewards,” Olson said.
Olson’s announcement comes less than a week after Councilor Temple Lentz announced she would not run for reelection in November. This leaves three council seats — District 1, District 2 and District 5 — to be filled by newcomers. The District 5 seat has been vacant since Eileen Quiring O’Brien retired in March. An appointee to be selected by Gov. Jay Inslee in May will need to run in the November election to hold onto the position.
Olson, a Republican, was first elected to the council in a 2015 special election following passage of the Home Rule Charter, changing the county’s three-member commission to a five-member council. Although council terms are for four years, the first term for Olson’s position and the council chair was three years because of the 2015 special election.
She ran for reelection in 2018 against fellow Republican Elisabeth Veneman and won handily with 77.2 percent of votes cast. In her time in office, Olson has served on the Board of Health as well as boards for the Greater Clark Parks, Discovery Clean Water Alliance, Emergency Medical Services, Urban County Policy Board and many others.
But serving only two terms was a decision Olson said she made when she first decided to run for the office.
“I did the same thing when I was on the (Ridgefield) school board. I served for two terms, and we got a lot done,” Olson said.
Although she did give serious consideration to running for a third term, even as late as Monday, she said the decision came down to whether her personal obligations and responsibilities would leave enough time and attention to devote to council duties. That conflict between personal responsibilities and council duties came to a head last week when Olson was unable to council meetings throughout the week due to the death of an immediate family member.
Olson also said it’s time to bring some new faces, and new ideas, to the council.
Although she will be leaving her position on the county council, Olson said that doesn’t mean she won’t continue to serve Clark County’s residents. She said she plans to devote more of her time to the nonprofit groups she’s already involved with, and will be on the lookout for other opportunities.
“I want to spend my time doing something where I feel like I can really make a difference. I want to spend my time doing things that are positive and rewarding,” Olson said.
“I have always considered myself an eager public servant and a reluctant politician. Rather than serve in an elected role, when the time allows, I will look for other ways to serve our community. I hope those who choose to run for this seat or others will leave ideology behind and do so with a servant’s heart and desire to improve the lives of Clark County residents,” she added.
Olson also thanked those who didn’t always agree with her positions on certain policies, saying she heard and read their words with respect and an open mind and appreciated their varying perspectives.
Olson was especially thankful for the support and hard work of County Manager Kathleen Otto and the county’s dedicated staff, “who show up every day to serve our community. Their efforts so often go unnoticed,” she said.