North Thurston High School teacher-turned-hero Brady Olson announced late Wednesday that he will run for a seat in the state Legislature.
“I’ve planned on this for a decade,” he told The Olympian. “My plan was when (Rep.) Sam Hunt retired, I was going to run for his seat. That was my plan.”
But a game of musical chairs broke out in the 22nd Legislative District, which includes Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater, caused by Sen. Karen Fraser’s bid for lieutenant governor, Hunt’s decision to seek Fraser’s spot in the Senate and Rep. Chris Reykdal’s campaign for state superintendent of public instruction.
Olson, 44, of Lacey, made a formal announcement Thursday that he is entering the race for Reykdal’s seat.
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In April, Olson tackled and restrained a student who fired a gun at North Thurston High in April.
Olson has received numerous awards and special recognition for the act, including the Governor’s Lifesaving Award. He says he did what any other teacher would do, but describes the community’s reaction as “phenomenal.”
“I have been given a lot of opportunities the last 10 months simply because of an act,” Olson said. “The one thing I want to focus on is how a community can come together and reflect on a situation and appreciate and respect everyone’s attitudes and feelings and care for one another … My community has been so fantastic to me, I don’t know how I cannot run for office.”
The Democrat, who grew up in Shelton, is a 1990 graduate of Shelton High School. He attended South Puget Sound Community College after spending three years in the Army as a combat engineer. He has a bachelor of arts in social studies, a teaching certificate from Saint Martin’s University in Lacey and a master’s in educational technology from City University.
Olson has taught government and civics at North Thurston for a decade. Before that, he taught at Black Hills High School in the Tumwater School District.
“If anybody is really passionate about public service, it’s Mr. Olson, and this something that’s natural for him,” said Zain Abid, 21, a University of Washington student and 2013 North Thurston graduate who is working on Olson’s campaign team.
Olson describes himself as a political junkie. He said he feels it is important to have someone with “first-hand classroom experience in the Legislature.”
“I think understanding people’s perspectives and listening to all of the voices that are present is one of my strengths,” he said.
Olson has never held a public office.
“I was ASB president in high school, does that count?” he quipped. “I love local politics, but it’s not something I’ve had time for. Being a dad was No. 1 and then being dedicated to my students.”
Olson and his wife Shara, a sixth-grade teacher at Horizons Elementary School in Lacey, have two children. They established a girls-mentoring program and volunteer with the Thurston County Food Bank.
Brad Banks, a Lacey Democrat who has declared his candidacy in campaign-disclosure paperwork, and Laurie Dolan, a former teacher, school administrator and aide to Gov. Chris Gregoire, are in the race for Reykdal’s seat. Franklin Edwards III, an Olympia carpenter, has also declared his Democratic candidacy for Reykdal’s seat.