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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

White Salmon Mayor Marla Keethler to run for state Senate seat

Democrat will challenge Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, for 17th District position

By Dylan Jefferies, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 26, 2024, 6:02am

Marla Keethler, mayor of White Salmon and a career sports producer, announced her candidacy for state Senate in Washington’s newly redrawn 17th Legislative District on Thursday.

Keethler will run as a Democrat against state Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, for the open seat to be vacated by Republican Lynda Wilson, who is retiring.

Historically a swing district, the 17th District recently gained more rural communities and some Democratic-leaning precincts because of a court-mandated adjustment of several legislative maps. The revised district stretches along the Columbia River and includes portions of Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties.

Now in her second term as mayor of White Salmon, Keethler said her focus is on economic development, community resilience, transportation infrastructure and housing affordability, according to a Thursday news release.

“People are frustrated with our political system because politicians have forgotten that they work for their communities,” Keethler said. “As a small town, nonpartisan mayor, day in and day out I do the work. I’ve seen the disconnect of bureaucratic policies that encumber instead of empower smaller communities with limited resources.”

A mother of two young children, Keethler said she wants to bring the experiences of families struggling with a lack of child care to Olympia, and that she wants to ensure that “all voices are heard as we take on challenges of affordable housing and child care, public safety, and investing in our roads, bridges, schools and community.”

With reproductive and abortion rights an issue of national and state-level focus in the 2024 election, Keethler said, “There is a clear contrast in this race for state Senate.”

“I am the one who will work to make sure that neither the government nor politicians dictate our private medical decisions,” she said. “We’re seeing unprecedented attacks on our freedom to access reproductive health care, family planning and abortion rights — including from my opponent in this race.”

Keethler was raised in a military family near Pierce County’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord. After graduating from Arizona State University, she moved to New York City, where she began a nearly two-decade career in sports journalism. She worked with national networks and covered the Olympic Games and other global events. She moved to White Salmon with her husband in 2016.

For more information, visit www.marlaforsenate.com.