Sequim's Steve Tharinger, a Clallam County commissioner, announced his candidacy last week for the 24th Legislative District seat held by House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler.
"I have been both surprised and pleased by the number of friends and colleagues who have come forward to encourage me to run," Tharinger said in a written statement.
"I have respected Lynn's work for so many years, I simply had not thought about making this move. Now that the decision is made, however, I look forward to the campaign and to representing this district."
Kessler announced in mid-April that she would not seek a 10th term.
Tharinger, a Democrat, is serving his 11th year as county commissioner. He said he would retain the position.
Soon after Kessler's announcement, Tharinger said he was interested in the office but wanted to talk with Democratic Party leaders before he officially announced his candidacy.
On May 14, after speaking with Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) and several commissioners in the legislative district - including Mike Chapman and Mike Doherty, Clallam's other county commissioners - Tharinger said he heard what he needed to hear.
"I got some pretty positive feedback," Tharinger told the Sequim Gazette by phone.
"I think that they think it's a good fit."
Pat Johansen, his campaign chairman, said Tharinger has been recognized for his work locally and statewide with salmon recovery, biodiversity, workforce development and mental health and aging initiatives.
Tharinger said his next steps are putting together an election campaign team, hosting kick-off events within the district and connecting with constituents throughout the legislative district that spans Clallam, Jefferson and part of Grays Harbor counties, with 80,000 registered voters throughout.
"There are huge differences across the 24th district - timber, traditional agriculture, dairy, fishing, alternative energy development, our ports, tourism and the Olympic National Park dominate our diverse economy," Tharinger said in his written statement.
"Retirees share our communities with working families and tribal neighbors who have centuries of history in this beautiful area. We are, in many ways, a microcosm of the state of Washington."
Tharinger and his wife, Yvonne Yakota, are 30-year residents of the Olympic Peninsula. He is a 1971 graduate of Colorado College.
Jim McEntire of Sequim, Jack Dwyer of Montesano and Larry Carter of Port Ludlow also have declared their candidacies for Kessler's 24th District seat.
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.
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