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Former Vader resident making run for Lewis County Commission

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John Roe (mid-ground, right), speaks with residents Thursday about his candidacy for Lewis County Commission Position 3 during the Vader City Council meeting. An Onalaska resident and Vader native, Roe says his is hoping to help the county create more local jobs and support its small communities.

Onalaska resident John Roe has informally announced his bid for a seat on the Lewis County Commission and has begun efforts to reach out to area voters in District 3.

A former resident of Vader and graduate of Toledo High School, Roe spoke to voters Thursday during the Vader City Council meeting and said it is his desire to gain a seat on the Commission to serve his fellow Lewis County residents, after having tried unsuccessfully to do so back in 1994.

“This time around, what I’ve tried to get across to the folks that I’ve been talking to is that, as difficult as it is to believe, this is going to be my last shot at a public office,” he said, “and I want to do it just based on the idea of being of service back to Lewis County. I’m not looking for the notoriety, and I’m not looking for the monetary reward.”

Roe is running for Position 3 on the commission, currently held by two-term incumbent Lee Grose. Grose had announced last month his intention to not seek reelection, stating at the time it was simply “time to move on.”

“Lee is well thought of in the position that he’s in,” said Roe of his potential predecessor. “For him to step out now, I’ve got some very big shoes that I’m going to have to fill, to say the very least.”

One of the challenges Roe said he encountered growing up in Vader, which he noted is still a struggle for the area, is a shortage of employment opportunities for young people, stating he had to seek work in King County after graduating from Centralia College, and ended up spending 45 years in the air freight industry. He said local job opportunities would be one of his goals as a commissioner, as well as supporting local officials such as those on city councils.

“What these folks are doing here right now is a tough road to hoe,” he said, indicating the Vader City Council. “You don’t always get the credit you’d like to get for the things that you do.”

In order to prepare for such goals, Roe said he has been regularly attending Commission meetings to observe the problems being addressed, as well as the players in local municipal leadership. He told his supporters they can go through him if they have information they would like to find out from the county, as well issues they wish to bring up.

Roe also acknowledged the difficulty of campaigning within a district as vast as District 3, which stretches from the Vader area to Packwood. Roe said his solution has been to seek out community activists in each area he is hoping to campaign in and designate a local representative, stating resident Julie Hedgeland has volunteered to fill that role for Vader.

“I’m looking forward to the run,” said Roe of the upcoming campaign. “It’s going to be fun.”

To contact Roe for campaign purposes, call (360) 978-5020 or email

So far, Roe is being challenged by Toledo Mayor Jerry Pratt for Position 3, though candidates must wait until the week of May 12 to officially file with the state. They are, however, free to declare their candidacy unofficially until that time.

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