Jill Warne is many things — wife, mother, grandmother, successful real-estate agent — just don’t call her a politician.
“I don’t want to be a politician. That’s a four-letter word,” joked the first-time Republican candidate running for Grays Harbor County Commissioner Position 1.
Warne grew up on a small farm in south Montesano, the oldest of five children, but states “there was never just five” as her parents adopted several foster children during her childhood.
After living in Oregon for a short time after high school, she moved back to the area and now lives in Elma, where she has worked in real estate for more than three decades and enjoys spending time with her husband of 31 years, Ron, and their four kids and five granddaughters.
“We’re having a run on girls,” Warne joked regarding her grandchildren. “My boys, who don’t have any kids yet, they’re the ones that need to give us grandsons. They need to have boys, and they deserve it.”
Raising a family while holding down a full-time job didn’t leave much room for running for office, but bit by bit, Warne warmed to the notion.
“My parents have always been somewhat politically involved,” she said. “I always stayed at a distance a bit, but I kept getting a little bit more involved and a little bit more involved, and now, here I go.”
Looking back, Warne states restrictions placed on the timer and fishing industries had a profound affect on her political leanings.
“It was just little issues that affect us. … When we first bought the (Warne Century 21) real estate office in 1989 we had a sign bolted on it that said, ‘This business is supported by the timber industry,’” she said. “We all need to be good stewards of our land and it shouldn’t just be locked up. We have to take care of it too. We don’t need so many restrictions. We’ve got to have balance. People need to work. Loggers need to log and fishers need to fish.”
But the issue Warne said pushed her into running for political office was the needle-exchange program, which she said is personal for her.
“The whole reason I decided to get into politics now is because of the needle-exchange that’s not a needle exchange,” she said. “I had a family member that was an addict, and we don’t help them by enabling them. It’s pretty obvious by looking around that this is not helping the problems we have here. It’s continuing to grow. It’s not fixing the problem and we’ve got to find a better way to fix it.”
Warne added that her relative is clean and sober now but that it took a stint in jail “to get to that point.”
Warne then mentioned statements from 19th Legislative District Candidate Jeff Wilson, who said on-the-record that he had picked up loose needles on the streets of Aberdeen and visited the needle exchange on multiple occasions to witness the exchange process firsthand, with alarming results.
”Jeff Wilson went into our local needle exchange, and it wasn’t the first time, and he gave them three needles to exchange and they gave him back 30,” Warne said. “They didn’t ask him if he wanted help or needed treatment either.”
It was testimonials such as Wilson’s that lit the fire for Warne’s office run.
“I really didn’t want to do this, but I need to,” she said. “We need to make some changes and we need to get back on the right path. We are varying way off path of where we need to be.”
As a longtime realtor in the area, Warne is also running on her pro-small business convictions and feels better decision-making needs to be made at the county level. “Small and local businesses are hurting. People need to be able to live their life and get back to work. People that are health-compromised need to protect themselves, but healthy people need to live and move on.”
In August’s primary vote, Warne garnered 55.5% of the vote for the county commissioner seat, which was left open after incumbent Wes Cormier decided to run for state Senate.