A legislative aide to Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, announced Friday he would run for the Alaska House seat from District 33 now held by first-term Republican Rep. Kelly Wolf.
In a press release Friday, Soldotna resident Kurt Olson said he had filed a declaration of candidacy with the Alaska Division of Elections on Friday and will challenge Wolf in the Aug. 24 Republican primary.
"My platform is basic," Olson said. "This state needs resource development for jobs and revenues for services. The Kenai Peninsula is especially dependent on resource development, and I pledge to work hard to bring North Slope natural gas to the Cook Inlet. It is my No. 1 priority."
Olson also said he would "continue developing Cook Inlet oil and gas resources, protecting our fisheries, as well as expanding all of our businesses on the peninsula."
Olson, a resident of the peninsula since 1982, is married with two children. He served two years on the Soldotna City Council before leaving to work for Sen. John Torgerson, later joining Wagoner's legislative staff. He has worked as a commercial insurance broker, as a custom seafood processor and as a business manager for a guide and lodging business, according to the press release.
Beyond his stint on the Soldotna council and experience working for the Alaska Legislature, Olson also has served as a board member for the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce. He has served as a member of the Central Emergency Services board for eight years.
Commenting on Olson's candidacy, Wolf said Saturday that he had suspected Olson would file.
"During the interim he was talking to people and drumming up support to see if people would be willing to back him," Wolf said.
He then said Olson might benefit from a delay of Wolf's legislation currently in Wagoner's Senate Resources Committee. He suggested there might be an effort at "making sure that anything that might show that I'm helping the community would fail."
Among the Wolf measures in Senate Resources are a resolution proclaiming Take a Young Person Hunting Week that reached the committee in mid-April, and another relating to restoration of riparian habitat sent there today.
A measure declaring Alaska Salmon Week sponsored by Wolf has been in Senate Resources since March 31.
Wolf said he questioned what Olson had accomplished while working as an aide in Juneau. He said he wasn't worried about the challenge from Olson, stating he had worked hard for his constituency. He also suggested running for office might be something everyone should try.
"It's an eye-opener what happens here in Juneau," he said. "People of the state of Alaska should pay more attention to what happens in the wee hours of the night."
Olson joins Republican hopeful John G. Osborne Sr. of Kenai and Wolf in seeking the Republican primary nod in August. Democrat Hal Smalley of Kenai also has filed for the District 33 race.
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