Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Ted Olson takes 'logical step' to ML council seat

(Editor's Note: In an effort to get to know a little more about those who successfully ran for seats on the Medical Lake City Council, those candidates were asked to be interviewed for a series of stories. This is the first in that series.)


January 4, 2018

Ted Olson will occupy a City Council seat for the first time in Medical Lake.

Ted Olson's first dive into the election pool was a success. It was also a logical step he said.

The former state worker earned a relatively comfortable victory in the Nov. 7 general election over Gary Plumlee by a 524–370 margin in votes or 58 to 41 percent with 1 percent as write-ins. He won in the Aug. 1 primary in a three-way battle earning 46 percent with Plumlee at 27 and Michael Deeley's 25 percent.

Olson, his wife Connie and youngest son moved inside the city limits in 2015, allowing him to not only pay closer attention to local government, but also run for office.

"I knew I couldn't take the big jump (to run) for County Commissioner, that's quite a commitment," Olson, who has been attending council meetings for a year and a half, said.

He plans to take experience from having served in leadership roles for home owner associations and fraternal organizations like the Eagles, kennel clubs and others to help guide his work on the council.

Olson's a lifelong resident of Eastern Washington. He was born in Colfax and raised in Walla Walla after moving there when he was 5. Olson's grandfather was a farmer in Colfax and his dad a deputy sheriff in Whitman County.

"They go back a long ways," Olson said.

He spent parts of his early career as a wastewater treatment plant operator for 13 years in Pomeroy, Wash. and has been a Medical Lake resident since 1993.

Olson said he relocated to Medical Lake initially to operate the wastewater treatment plants for both Lakeland and Eastern State. He's actually licensed to do that type of work.

"There's a lot of micro-biology, a lot of research, a lot of plumbing," Olson explained. "I tell people I do big boy plumbing, I don't mess with anything less than four inches," he added with a laugh.

Despite having been retired, and not working in the field for several years after the institutions were connected to the city's plant, he maintains his credentials.

"I go to the annual conferences, they're called WOW, which is wastewater operator workshop," Olson said. He's been going to them since 1986, teaching classes and helping wherever he can.

His knowledge is not only technical, but trivial, too.

"Here's a little stat that's interesting," Olson said. "Spokane handles more wastewater in 10 minutes than we did in 24 hours in Pomeroy where they processed 250,000 gallons per day."

"Tell me you shouldn't have a license for something like that, there's a lot of impact," he added.

When the city took over wastewater work, Olson, 66, finished his career in various maintenance capacities. He ultimately retired in 2015, but now works part time as a bus driver for Medical Lake School District.

In his new spot on the council, rather than serving simply as an interested observer, Olson said one of the missions he plans to undertake is cleaning up city codes.

"If we have a code that isn't being enforced, let's either enforce it or get it off the books," Olson said.

Olson said that while he does not want to be one where the spotlight shines and is the center of any attention, "I also don't want to be 'Did anyone see Ted at the meeting," a role where he says little or nothing.

His successful election bid also has some sentimental value as Olson will fill the term of the late Howard Jorgenson who passed away in 2016.

"Howard and I kind of followed in each other's steps, or I followed in his steps," Olson said.

Jorgenson was a state union president as well as a local president at Lakeland Village. Olson later filled that same role. "Howard and I knew each other, he came to my swearing in at Lakeland Village.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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