PORT ANGELES — State Rep. Mike Chapman will seek the Senate seat to be vacated by Kevin Van Wege, who is running for State Commissioner of Public Lands in 2024.
Both Chapman and Van De Wege now represent Legislative District 24, which covers the North Olympic Peninsula — Clallam and Jefferson counties — as well as part of Grays Harbor County, along with State Rep. Steve Tharinger.
“This is a critical time for the Peninsula,” Chapman said in a press release issued Tuesday. “We still have work to do to create jobs, increase economic opportunity, increase public safety and improve the quality of life of every person that lives in this beautiful place.”
Chapman, 59, is serving his fourth term as a state representative. He is currently the chair of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, the Transportation Committee and the Business/Consumer Protection Committee.
He praised the bipartisanship of the state Senate.
“The Senate is a body of great bipartisanship and really works to find comprehensive solutions to the problems we face,” Chapman said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Not that the House doesn’t work in a bipartisan manner. It does. The Senate serves as a backstop as it were.”
Chapman feels his voice would be “more impactful” in the Senate on such issues as public infrastructure, healthcare — making sure hospitals are fully funded — education — making sure schools are fully funded — treatment for drug offenders, good legislation concerning law enforcement, homelessness, affordable housing, a trained workforce and an economy that provides living wage jobs.
“We have great public officials locally … We need to continue helping them and working on these issues,” he said.
The effect of climate change on local resources and the environment also is on his mind.
“This summer has to be one of driest we have ever experienced,” he said.
“Is our climate changing so much we need to look at how we manage resources differently?”
Chapman, who said he was asked by Senate leadership to consider running for the upper house, listed among his accomplishments in the House writing the budget proposals for the Elwha Bridge replacement and a new frontage road connecting Sequim to Blyn and sponsoring a bill to strengthen the state’s ability to declare drought emergencies.
“I wanted to make sure that law enforcement had the tools they needed and training to deal with changing society,” Chapman said.
“I didn’t support all police reforms. I thought they went too far. I voted for bipartisan solutions.”
A Port Angeles Democrat, Chapman is a former Republican who later became an independent.
He served four terms as a Clallam County commissioner, from 2009 to 2017. He was first elected to the state Legislature in 2016 and was reelected in 2018, 2020 and 2022.
Chapman had served for a decade as a local law enforcement officer and U.S. Customs inspector. He drew the attention of the public when, as a part-time customs inspector, he chased down and shoulder-tackled Ahmed Ressam at the corner of First and Lincoln streets, foiling a plot to kill and injure Americans by driving explosives from the MV Coho terminal in Port Angeles to a passenger terminal at Los Angeles International Airport and blowing it up.
Chapman received a master’s degree in leadership and liberal studies from Duquesne University, a bachelor’s in organizational management from Northwest College and an associate of arts and sciences from Shoreline College.
His volunteer and civic involvement includes and has included serving as chair and member of the Clallam County Board of Health, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, board member of North Olympic Baseball and Softball and chair of the Peninsula Regional Transportation Planning Organization and board member of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
Chapman was a founder of the William Shore Memorial Pool District and served on the board as a member and as chair.
He and his family live in Port Angeles.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at email@example.com.