Clark County Republicans censure Olson
The Clark County Republican Party’s precinct committee officers on Tuesday voted to censure Clark County Councilor Julie Olson over her vote against appointing Richard “Dick” Rylander to the council’s vacant District 5 seat.
Word of Olson’s censure was posted on Facebook Wednesday morning by Earl Bowerman, former chair of the local Republican party and husband of Council Chair Karen Bowerman, but an official statement from the GOP has not been released.
Republican party Chair Joel Mattila said the censure decision was made at the tail end of Tuesday’s central committee quarterly meeting.
“The precinct committee officers were frustrated with the vacant (council) seat and that process, it not being filled,” Mattila said. “It was a surprise to me. I had no knowledge of it beforehand and, as far as I know, none of the leadership team had knowledge of it.”
Mattila said of the 250-plus precinct committee officers in the party, less than half were in attendance by the time the vote was taken. He also said the CCRP had no plans to release any further details on the censure.
Those reading Bowerman’s Facebook post were quick to come to Olson’s defense.
“What a complete and utter waste of time and energy Bowerman and company continue to engage in,” said one commenter.
“Julie Olson is a responsible, ethical county councilor. She makes decisions based on research and evidence. She follows facts, not conspiracies. If that makes her an enemy of the CCRP, it’s their loss and reflects poorly on their judgment,” wrote another.
Olson said she wasn’t aware of the vote until someone mentioned it to her on Wednesday, adding it won’t change how she votes or how she approaches her role as an elected official.
“It makes no difference to me one way or the other,” Olson said Thursday.
She said even though she is a Republican, the CCRP did not support her when she last ran for office and doesn’t expect them to do so in the future.
Although the county council positions are now nonpartisan offices, a change approved by voters in last November’s election, party affiliation has remained a key element in appointing a District 5 councilor.
When Eileen Quiring O’Brien, a Republican, announced in February that she was leaving the council the next month, Chair Karen Bowerman emailed only Republican precinct committee officers about applying the position. Additionally, all the candidates selected for interviews were Republicans.
Olson said she would like to see more done to reach out to the constituents in District 5, regardless of political affiliation, to widen the pool of candidates.
The council likely has another month to do that if they wanted. This week the council voted to send the decision to Gov. Jay Inslee after splitting in a 2-2 vote to approve Rylander. However, Inslee’s office said the governor won’t move forward with the nomination until the county’s 60-day window allowed by state law has run out. That 60-day window ends on May 1.
— Shari Phiel