Cowlitz County Commissioner Arne Mortenson has reversed course and will seek a second four-year term in November, he announced through a Facebook post Thursday.
In the post, he is asking supporters to sign a petition to put his name on the ballot. If he gets 830 signatures, he does not have to pay the election filing fee.
However, “there is more than just a nice savings; it is the fact that the signatures tell me whether I am satisfying you, my employer. To that end, my goal is to get many, many more signatures than the 830 required,” Mortensen said in the post.
Mortensen, a Republican, was not immediately available for comment Friday morning. He previously had said he would not seek re-election, and his post did not explain why he changed his mind.
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Mortensen has chaired the county Republican Committee and advocated for conservative causes. He championed a commissioner resolution against voter-approved Initiative 1639, which changed the rules for gun background checks, age restrictions and owner responsibility.
He was a proponent of turning management of the county-owned Headquarters Landfill to a private operator, arguing that it would earn the county more money and expand its revenue base. However, the county ended up retaining management of the dump.
Casting the lone dissent on a 2-1 commissioner vote, Mortensen opposed a 2018 county application for a $68,000 grant to fund Lower Columbia CAP’s “meals on wheels” senior nutrition program. He acknowledged the move could be unpopular, but he said government needs to be “very careful” about spending money on things other than protection of property rights, life and liberty due to “the horrendous deficit that we face on a yearly basis.”
Mortensen, who is in his early 70s, is a Kelso resident who earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at Harvey Mudd College and a Ph.D. in oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. He and his wife, Jonalee Mortensen, have four grown children.
In 2016 Mortensen defeated incumbent Mike Karnofski to serve in the District 1 commissioner seat. So far this year, no Democrats have come forward to challenge him. The district represents Kelso, Kalama, Woodland and other parts of the south county.
The District 2 commissioner seat, held by Dennis Weber and which represents Longview and the immediate surrounding area, is also up for re-election this year.
Contact City Editor Andre Stepankowsky at 360-577-2520.