Kevin Pine, a Republican candidate running for Grays Harbor County Commissioner Seat 2, says he is a Harborite through and through.
“I love the Harbor. Once a Harborite, always a Harborite,” said Pine, who is running for political office for the first time and won August’s three-way primary with 43% of the vote.
The current head coach of Grays Harbor College’s successful wrestling program, Pine grew up on a family farm in Elma and cut his teeth tending to livestock and bucking hay as a youth.
As he grew older, Pine worked in his parents’ group home for the developmentally disabled, eventually becoming a counselor.
Pine, who earned his degree at Central Washington University, believes the values taught to him in his childhood helped mold him into the man he is today.
“My dad taught us some amazing life skills early on,” he said. “Getting a job, making money, being responsible and that if you want something you pay for it.”
And it was his father, former Grays Harbor County Commissioner Bill Pine, that was his chief role model.
“He was always about setting goals, being accountable, being a problem-solver and figuring things out,” Pine said of his father who served in the role Pine is now running for in the late 1980s. “I recall him sitting down with me and having me write out my goals of where I”m going to be in six months, a year, five years. I’ve tried to follow through on those same things and have done the same thing with my kids and working with young adults and trying to teach those same skills.”
As a wrestling coach, Pine coached 20 All-Americans at Central Washington University (1995-2001) and coached the women’s national team in Las Vegas for four years before moving back to Elma in 2018. Pine, who has won multiple accolades as a competitive wrestler, including a 1986 state title as an Elma Eagle, said the sport has played an integral part of his life.
“I’ve always been involved in the sport of wrestling,” he said. “There’s a lot of skills that are involved and that you are taught — integrity, hard work, goal setting, motivation as a coach. I have a passion for teaching those skills to student-athletes. … It’s enjoyable and inspiring to see them have success.”
But it was love of family that brought him back to the area.
“All my family still lives in the area,” he said. “I moved away for a while, but that’s the No. 1 reason I came back.”
Pine, who has three adult children, one of whom is currently a college wrestler, has also co-owned Powerhouse Fundraising for the past four years. The company contracts with local businesses to sell discount cards for schools across southwest Washington to raise funds for athletic gear and equipment the school cannot pay for on its own. If you have ever purchased a “Bobcat Card,” you purchased one of his company’s products.
With a full plate on his hands, Pine stated he did not have his eye on public office when approached to run for the job.
“This wasn’t something I was planning on doing, but I was approached this last spring about getting involved,” he explained. “I asked lots of questions about what is the job, why do I need to get involved?”
But after taking a closer look at the problems in the community, Pine decided to enter a wrestling match of a different kind.
“Some friends of family approached me and the reason why they approached me was they wanted a more conservative voice as a County Commissioner,” Pine explained.
Pine said he wants to “get back to some common sense” in helping out the homeless and dealing with the drug, alcohol and mental health issues plaguing the county while bringing jobs and industry back to the Harbor.
“There are people out there that always find a reason why you can’t do something. There’s a lot of problem-finders out there, let’s be a problem-solver,” he said. “Let’s tackle these issues we have in the community and get after it. We know why things haven’t worked in the past, but instead of saying that’s the way it is, let’s make a change.”
Pine said he wants to improve communication between the county and the cities.
“That is one of the things that the mayors and city council members I’ve talked to throughout the county, that is of concern,” he said. “That there really hasn’t been that line of communication. There is a disconnect. That is the underlying issue.”