Olympia City Council member Jim Cooper announced Saturday that he’ll make a bid for an open seat on the Thurston County Commission next year.
For weeks, there’s been speculation that the former Thurston County Democratic Party chairman would run for outgoing Commissioner Cathy Wolfe’s District 1 seat. Cooper said he made it official with an announcement during his 41st birthday party.
“I was raised to value service as a core component of good citizenship,” Cooper said in a statement released to The Olympian. “We all must do our part in order for our community to succeed, and public service is one way I do my part.”
Cooper was elected to the Olympia City Council in 2011. He is an Army veteran and is CEO of the United Ways of the Pacific Northwest.
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In July, Wolfe announced that she planned to retire at the end of her fourth term in December 2016.
“This is simply a time in my life when I want to travel, relax and enjoy my grandchildren and my wonderful family,” she said in a statement.
The county’s other two commissioners are Sandra Romero, a Democrat whose seat expires in 2016, and Bud Blake, an independent who was elected in 2014.
Earlier this year, Cooper was heavily involved in the “Better Thurston” campaign, a group that wants to establish a county charter and replace Thurston County’s three-member Board of County Commissioners with a five-member county council and elected county executive.
Over the summer, the group began collecting signatures to get an initiative on the November 2016 ballot that would call for an election of a Board of Freeholders, a group that would be tasked with drafting a new form of government that would go before voters in a later election.
When asked if he plans to stay involved in the Better Thurston campaign, Cooper said for now he plans to step out from the role of serving as the group’s spokesperson.