By Stefanie Donahue
Last week, long-serving public official Dennis Olason announced his resignation from the Blaine City Council, citing health concerns. This week, he took time to recount his experiences in office.
Olason moved to Blaine in 1948 at age 12 and later graduated from Blaine High School. In 1959, he earned a teaching degree from the Western Washington College of Education, now Western Washington University. Shortly after, he moved south to be with his wife of now 57 years, Ann Olason, and taught in the Renton school district for three decades.
City life got old for the pair and their two girls, Sara and Paula, so they moved up to Sweet Road in Blaine to build a home of their own on an 11-acre plot. They lived on the property for 12 years before buying their current home on Georgia Street in 2002.
Soon after moving, Ann and Dennis caught word that some of their neighbors were moving out due to a recent rezone that permitted multifamily residences in areas that were originally designated for single-family. The debate sparked Dennis’ interest to get involved and he eventually fronted an effort to get the city to impose a moratorium to halt implementation of the new zoning changes for some areas in the neighborhood, he said.
Once that was behind him, he began regularly attending city meetings and eventually applied for a position on the Blaine Planning Commission; he was appointed in 2009. During that time, the commission recommended that the city council approve east Blaine developments, Bridges Plat, East Maple Ridge and Grandis Pond – combined, the three projects make up more than 1,400 lots and each have yet to be constructed.
“It was interesting to see all the steps these folks had to go through,” he said. “I can understand how it takes time.”
After a busy two years on the commission, Dennis moved to the Blaine City Council in 2011 to fill Ken Oplinger’s slot. Since then, he’s been reelected twice to represent ward two.
During his time on the council, he’s encountered countless debates in council chambers, most notably a proposal to change the city’s name to Blaine Harbor. The idea was far-reaching, he said, adding, “I kind of knew what was going to happen.”
He also was around for the aftermath of the Blaine Municipal Airport closure in 2008, the uphill battle to obtain funding for the exit 274 interchange project and the city’s effort to forge a path for utilities into east Blaine. It’s been a busy few years.
Looking ahead, Dennis is hopeful about Blaine’s future and said encouraging people to live downtown will be the key to revitalizing the city’s economy. “Like it or not, this is where people are going to go to retire, or live here and work somewhere else,” he said.
During his time on the council, Dennis was also a member of the library committee and was a senior center board liaison. After announcing his resignation on August 14, he said he’s committed to staying involved with the Blaine Senior Center in a volunteer capacity.
The city is accepting applications for the position in person and online until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, September 8. Interviews will begin on September 8. Attendance is required for regular meetings that take place on the second and fourth Monday of the month as well as study sessions and other special meetings. Applicants must live in the second ward; the term spans four years.
To apply, pick up an application at the city’s administrative services department, located at 435 Martin Street, suite 3000 in Blaine or fill one out online at cityofblaine.com. For more information, contact the city’s administrative services department by calling 360/332-8311.