Centralia Mayor and Port Commissioner Bring Back Program to Aid First-Time Candidates


Centralia Mayor Kelly Smith Johnston and Port of Centralia Commissioner Julie Shaffley have organized the Learn Run Serve program’s return to aid first-time candidates interested in learning about running for office. It’s the third year the program has been provided.

“Local government has the most direct connection to the everyday lives and experiences of people. We want to encourage more people to see this as a viable opportunity for them and demystify campaigning,” Smith Johnston said in a news release. “More people running for office will strengthen our community. Our goal is to see more local races in Lewis County be contested, so that voters can choose the strongest candidate to represent them.”

Learn Run Serve will be a one-day only class and is scheduled for March 4 at the Centralia Train Depot, located at 210 Railroad Ave. in downtown Centralia, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Many aspects of running for office will be discussed, including: 

• Campaign financing and strategies

• Doorbelling 101

• Marketing and social media

• Which municipalities have open positions 

• How and when to file Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) requirements 

• The importance of local governments 

• Developing leadership identity and platform

• Advice on running for office in Lewis County 

• Dos and don’ts of filing

• Voter engagement and community outreach

Former Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who currently serves as senior election security advisor for the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, will be the opening speaker for the program. 

Other speakers include state Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, former White Pass School Board member Joe Fenbert, Economic Alliance of Lewis County Executive Director Richard DeBolt, Lewis County Auditor Larry Grove, Coralee and Chad Taylor of the Silver Agency and The Chronicle, Brittany Voie of Rock Street Station consulting and a representative from the PDC. 

This non-partisan event is sponsored by the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Alliance of Lewis County. It is free to attend, but registration is required. 

To register, email learnrunserve@gmail.com. Be sure to include your name and city of residence.

Lunch will be provided and participants are invited to stay after for a reception to meet local elected officials and begin networking. 

“We are excited to offer this educational program in hopes of inspiring and encouraging people to run for public office. By being involved, you have the opportunity to create and shape your community for the future,” Shaffley said in the release.