Area builder seeks Clallam County DCD post

Top priorities code enforcement, housing

Kevin Russell.

Kevin Russell.

PORT ANGELES — Area builder Kevin Russell, who is twice the past president of the North Peninsula Building Association, has announced he is running for the position of Clallam County Department of Community Development Director.

Russell, 65, filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission on Monday as the second hopeful aiming to be elected to the position now held by Mary Ellen Winborn, who is not running for reelection. Jesse Major, 28, a county employee who once covered county government for the Peninsula Daily News, filed with the PDC on April 1.

Filing with the PDC allows a candidate to collect and spend campaign donations.

The official filing week for the Nov. 8 general election is May 16-20. A top-two primary is set for Aug. 2.

Russell, who bought property in the county in 1997 and moved to the area in 2003, said his top priorities are “code enforcement and the search for affordable, attainable housing for our community while keeping the character and charm of our rural community.”

He has been building homes in Clallam County for 19 years through four different companies, beginning with Pacific Northwest Log Homes, he said. He now owns Kevin Russell Construction, begun in 2013.

Russell has served twice as president of the North Peninsula Building Association (NPBA), led the Building Industry Association of Washington and served on the board of the National Association of Home Builders.

In addition, he said, he was the charter chair of Built Green of Clallam County and his development company, D.C. Margene Co., built the first dual-certified Built Green and Energy Star homes in the area before he became a charter member of the committee that developed Built Green of Washington.

He also supported the NPBA’s Future Builders program, helping to develop multi-home sites using Low-Impact Development practices.

Russell believes collaboration is the way to improve code enforcement.

“We have a really big problem with issues of people squatting, squalor, run-down buildings, illegal dumping,” he said Thursday.

“We need to have a robust code enforcement program. The mechanisms are in place. It’s a matter of getting a coalition of people working together.”

Affordable housing is another priority.

“As both a resident of this beautiful county and a local builder, I have a passion for balancing the rural character of our communities with the need for homes people can afford,” Russell said.

To facilitate this, he said that, as director of community development, he would have an “open-door policy” to hear the concerns of people of all ages and industries and involve them in planning.

“Can we address everything?” he asked, answering himself with “No, we can’t. But we have a good blueprint to start … and we can see what we can accomplish right out of the gate.”

Within the boundaries set by the state, “what can we adjust … to make this a better environment for everybody?” he asked, noting that the comprehensive plan review is due in 2025.

“When people invest in our community, I want to ensure that investment is rewarded with a safe, clean environment where they can raise their families and enjoy the natural beauty of our county,” he said.

Russell said he wants to work with county commissioners and has done so with former commissioners in the past.

“I have a proven track record of working with them,” he said.

Russell said he has experience in several areas that would benefit the county.

Russell retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office in 1996. There, as a deputy and field training officer, he had years of experience assisting code enforcement officers, he said.

Also, as a builder and developer, he has worked with the community development department.

“I live here and see where it needs to be applied,” Russell said.

He also said he has years of management experience in several companies, both in overseeing staffs and budgets.

“My experience both in law enforcement and as a builder and my love of this community makes me an ideal candidate to serve our county as its next Director of Community Development,” Russell said.

“If I’m lucky enough to earn our county’s support to lead the Department of Community Development, I look forward to hearing even more ideas as we bring the Comprehensive Plan Update, which is due in 2025, to life.”

Russell said he feels he’s beginning a six-month-long job interview. His campaign website, kdr4dcd.com, will go live the middle of next week, he said.

He and his wife, Niamh, live west of Port Angeles. Russell enjoys golfing, hiking, fishing, surfing and paddleboarding.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].

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