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Olsen: Sewer district race was warm-up to 2012 campaign
BAINBRIDGE — James Olsen says his unsuccessful campaign for Kitsap County Sewer District 7 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. But Olsen says the race was just a warmup for 2012; he filed his declaration of candidacy for the House 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 candidacy spurred a Facebook opposition page, titled “Character Counts — Defeat James Olsen.”
His wife, Mary Dombrowski, ran for Bainbridge Island port commissioner, 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.
During that campaign, he presented himself as an advocate of open government who filmed public events and pushed them on to local public access television stations. After state Sen. Phil Rockefeller resigned to accept a governor-appointed post on the regional Northwest Power and Conservation Council, he criticized the process which allowed Rolfes to be appointed to the Senate and lawyer Drew Hansen to be appointed to Rolfes’ House seat. Rockefeller, Rolfes and Hansen are Democrats, as are the Kitsap County commissioners who appointed Rolfes and Hansen.
Beginning in 2004, 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.