Our Views: DeBolt Well-Positioned to Help Lead Post-COVID Recovery


From his early days in the state Legislature until his retirement last year as a leading, veteran Republican lawmaker, Richard DeBolt performed admirably for the residents of the 20th Legislative District. 

That manifested itself in many forms, from money for flood control projects to funding for local educational programs. He was a force in Olympia for nearly a quarter-century.

During his time at the Capitol, along with his service at the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce, DeBolt amassed a broad volume of connections and relationships that he in turn used to produce consistent results for his constituents.

Fortunately for Lewis County, he didn’t stay retired long. 

In the same week his highly qualified replacement state Rep. Peter Abbarno was sworn into office, it was announced that DeBolt will be the new director of the Lewis Economic Development Council. He replaces Matt Matayoshi, who resigned last year. 

It’s difficult to imagine a more qualified person for the position, and his hiring comes at a time when the council’s work is sorely needed. 

With COVID-19 continuing to impact all facets of life in Lewis County and beyond, the EDC, along with the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, will be pivotal in leading the community on the road to recovery. 

DeBolt encapsulated his mission well during an interview with The Chronicle following a meeting with the Lewis County commissioners earlier this week. 

“Right now we think we have 7 percent unemployment, and we know it’s a lot higher than that because they only count people looking for jobs, and when these people are ready to go back to work, some of these businesses aren’t going to be there anymore,” DeBolt said. “So then you’re going to see a jump in unemployment numbers. And if we do this correctly, I think we can have an opportunity to bring in some businesses and help those unemployment numbers rapidly get better.”

With his background at the chamber, his experience negotiating as a ranking Republican lawmaker and his deep community roots, DeBolt is well positioned to work to develop unity with local governments, the chamber and other organizations with an eye on the health of the local economy. 

The EDC works to bring new businesses to the county, supports local establishments and acts as a first stop for developers looking to establish projects within Lewis County’s borders. It’s an important organization that helps speed economic recovery in this time of uncertainty. 

We’re grateful for the Lewis EDC’s decision to hire DeBolt, and we look forward to seeing him get to work for the business community.