Chapman elected to committee chair

OLYMPIA — State Rep. Mike Chapman has been elected chair of the state House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Chapman, a Port Angeles Democrat, was elected by House Democrats on Thursday during organizational sessions preceding the 2021 legislative session, which begins Jan. 11. The chairmanship is for two years. Democrats control the House and state Senate.

Chapman represents the 24th District — Clallam and Jefferson counties and about half of Grays Harbor County — along with state Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend, and state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim.

The 24th District is the only one in the state Legislature with its three members serving as committee chairs. In addition to Chapman, Tharinger is chair of the House’s Capital Budget Committee, and Van De Wege chairs the Senate’s Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks.

Chapman, 57, takes a special interest in issues involving natural resources, access to public lands and increasing sustainable, family-wage jobs on the Olympic Peninsula and other rural areas, he said.

“In my time in the Legislature, I have been active in the House rural economic development efforts and how our working forests can be involved in job creation, carbon sequestration and innovative new industries,” Chapman said.

“While representing a diverse district, which includes six federally recognized tribal nations, I’ve also worked closely with the timber industry and environmental community on numerous pieces of bi-partisan legislation passed by the Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee — and I look forward to providing the leadership needed to find pragmatic bi-partisan solutions as we rebuild our rural economy.”

Chapman has been a member of the committee since 2017 and previously served as its vice chair. In 2021 he also will be a member of the House Transportation Committee, on which he has served previously. He has also served on the House Finance Committee.

Chapman was re-elected in November to his third two-year term in the House.

Before going to Olympia, Chapman served 16 years as a Clallam County commissioner. He is a decorated former U.S. Customs inspector.