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Jim McEntire eyes Kessler's job

Jim McEntire, Port of Port Angeles commissioner and Sequim resident, is the newest candidate hoping to fill the seat of Rep. Lynn Kessler.

McEntire confirmed the announcement Tuesday.

"I really think we're heading in the wrong direction at the state government level," McEntire said. "We need to pay very careful attention to recreate or foster jobs to get our economy up and running again."

At the same time, Port Angeles Realtor Dan Gase announced he would run against the district's other member of the state House of Representatives, Kevin Van De Wege.

"The priority of the government should be the people," Gase said, deploring the Legislature's recent tax hikes.

"This was the tipping point for me and has convinced me that this is the time to run ... and stand up for the good people of this district."



GOP pair

Both men will run as Republicans.

Kessler, the House of Representative's Democrat majority leader and 24th District Position 2 representative for the past 18 years, announced on April 12 she would not be seeking a 10th, two-year term.

Van De Wege, a Sequim firefighter, also a Democrat, is the Position 1 incumbent. He is expected to seek re-election but has not made an official announcement.

McEntire ran unopposed for the Port of Port Angeles position in the 2007 election.

He and his wife, Sherry, live in Sequim. They have three grown children and five grandchildren.



Coast Guard vet

"When Lynn announced her retirement, I had to think if I would do anything," McEntire said, noting that he made sure he had support from his wife before announcing his candidacy.

A native of Athens, Ga., McEntire served in the Coast Guard for 32 years, commanding three ships and retiring with the rank of captain.

He then worked for the U.S. government for six years as a senior analyst in the Departmental Budget Office at the U.S. Department of Transportation, handling performance and budget issues.

He was deputy assistant secretary for budget and strategic planning for the U.S. Department of Labor and was director of business transformation for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

He also worked for the Federal Senior Executives Service, prepping the organization's annual budget and doing long-range planning.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a master's degree in public planning from George Washington University.



Economy the key

McEntire is a member of the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula and a member of the Rotary Club of Sequim.

McEntire said the economy is the key issue for state legislators.

"It is apparent to me ... that Washington state government needs a new direction - one that puts job creation and retention, and the economic needs of our district's citizens and businesses uppermost," McEntire wrote in a press release.

"For the last two years, we have seen the Legislature engage in budget gimmicks to paper over a big gap between tax revenue and state spending, and on top of that, set aside the will of the people to raise taxes. This needs to stop - now."



Realtor, banker

Gase is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in western Pennsylvania before his parents moved to Clallam County in 1967. He graduated from Port Angeles High School.

He recently retired as president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Uptown Realty in Port Angeles, where he now works as a broker specializing in commercial marketing.

He was vice president of First Federal in the 1980s. He also owned the Coldwell Banker office in Sequim and worked at First Federal's branch here.

He is an Air Force veteran and a licensed commercial pilot of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.



Business friendliness

His civic work includes vice president of the board of the Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics Clinic for uninsured and underinsured persons, a former board member of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation, past president of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Port Angeles Kiwanis Club, and past board member of the Clallam County Family YMCA.

Gase, 56, said he decided to run after playing with his grandchildren.

"What is it going to be like when they're older?" he said he asked himself.

"We have to start reversing this downward course."

Gase also emphasized that Washington should be the friendliest to business in the nation.

"There's only 49 other states to beat out," he said.

"The state raising taxes does not produce a good business climate."



Dwyer also seeks 24th district seat

Jack Dwyer, a chiropractor from Montesano, announced in late April his candidacy as a Democrat for Kessler's Position 2 seat, according to Aberdeen radio station KBKW.

Also intending to run is Larry Carter of Port Ludlow, who announced his candidacy at the April 15 rally of Concerned Citizens of Clallam County.

Clallam County Commissioner Steve Tharinger, a Democrat, is considering seeking Kessler's position.



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.

Reach Jim Casey at jcasey@sequim

gazette.com.

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