Olsen says unsuccessful campaign for sewer board hasn't derailed campaign for state House

James Olsen, in a YouTube video he produced for his candidacy for the Kitsap County Sewer District 7 board on Bainbridge Island. He
James Olsen, in a YouTube video he produced for his candidacy for the Kitsap County Sewer District 7 board on Bainbridge Island. He's now focusing on his 2012 race for 23rd District state representative.
— image credit: James Olsen

BAINBRIDGE — James Olsen says his unsuccessful campaign for the Kitsap County Sewer District 7 board on Bainbridge Island has not derailed his campaign for 23rd District state House of Representatives in 2012.

Olsen received 50 votes to winner Chris Dew’s 214 in the Nov. 8 general election. But Olsen says the race was just a warmup for 2012; he filed his declaration of candidacy for the House in June, one week after he filed his declaration of candidacy for the Sewer District board.

“The Sewer District results were outstanding from my standpoint,” Olsen wrote in an email. “I met many great people and offered to serve with an open heart. The fellow elected is another good fellow who has been doing this for several terms.”

Olsen said the campaign was “a fabulous opportunity to speak to 400 households, only a minor subpart of the 178,000 voters in the 23rd Legislative District.”

His wife, Mary Dombrowski, ran for Bainbridge Island port commissioner Nov. 8, finishing second of three candidates for Position 2.

Olsen, 61, is a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain. A Republican, he ran for state representative in 2010, receiving 23,812 votes to Christine Rolfes’ 32,351. His candidacy spurred creation of a Facebook opposition page, titled “Character Counts — Defeat James Olsen.” The page is still active.

After state Sen. Phil Rockefeller resigned to accept a governor-appointed post on the regional Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Olsen said voters were being shortchanged by the process which allowed Rolfes to be appointed to the Senate and lawyer Drew Hansen to be appointed to Rolfes’ House seat. Rolfes and Hansen are Democrats, as are the Kitsap County commissioners who appointed them.

Olsen said voters expect their elected officials to serve their entire terms, not leave midterm for higher office. He said he would continue to serve on the Sewer District board if elected to the Legislature.

As a Bainbridge resident, he advocated online broadcasts of city council meetings instead of TV broadcasting, and worked to defeat a proposed school tax levy and a city vehicle tab fee.

In 2007-08, he and his wife lobbied for changes in local school curriculum regarding the forced removal and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

He and his wife objected to the curriculum as biased, lacking context and encouraging negative value judgments about the Bush administration and the Patriot Act.

According to a story at the time in the Bainbridge Island Review, the couple said it was unfair to second-guess the forced relocation of Japanese as wrong, considering the bombing of Pearl Harbor and government concerns over espionage at the time.

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