John Shaw of Aberdeen, former boat builder turned museum director, filed today, May 11, 2020, as a non-partisan candidate for the District 2 seat on the Grays Harbor County Board of Commissioners.

“We aren’t getting enough done to improve the economy in our area,” Shaw said, explaining his decision to seek office. “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our state was enjoying one of the best economies in its history, and yet our area did not prosper in the way that I believe it could have because we have a tendency to let government stonewall us. Sometimes you need to be willing to stay at the table and not take ‘no’ for an answer. It’s too easy to throw up the excuse that we are constrained by rules and regulations instead of pushing to find solutions or build consensus.”

“Eventually, the pandemic will end and there will be a need to recover and rebuild,” Shaw added. “I look at things from a more entrepreneurial point of view on how to get the result that we want, which means I have an ability to not be overly constrained in trying to find answers. We are going to need that when this pandemic ends.”

Shaw moved to Aberdeen in 1987 when he started Shaw Boats, Inc., during a robust effort to diversify the area’s economy away from the timber industry in the lead up to the spotted owl rulings.  He owned or operated boat building companies on and off the harbor for more than 20 years before opting to semi-retire during the last recession in order to devote more time in Aberdeen with family. He has been executive director of the Westport-South Beach Historical Society, which operates the Westport Maritime Museum and Grays Harbor Light, since 2014, and is chairman of the Aberdeen Museum of History.

“I have learned in recent years that it is harder than ever to get anything done – so I plan to be a commissioner who helps people in our county get things done,” Shaw said. “I will network with state and federal officials to provide access to the resources other counties seem to obtain – and keep the greater good of the entire county in mind. Each of our entities seems to be so busy trying to stay solvent that the ability to share resources and forge partnerships is seriously eroded.”

“In the last five to six years, being involved in several non-profit groups, different organizations, parks and tourism, I’ve noticed that Grays Harbor doesn’t work together the way it did when I came here 30 years ago,” Shaw continued. “I came to this area not knowing all of the people, but I saw how the cities, Hoquiam and Aberdeen, the Port, the county, the state and our congressional delegation worked together in what seemed to be a very seamless way to put effort behind displaced timber workers. In trying to engage the last few years, I’ve noticed that we seem to have lost some of those key connections that helped Grays Harbor present to the outside world as a team. I have very specific skills in bringing people of diverse views to work together.”

Shaw, 63, grew up in Portland, Ore., before moving to Washington state in the 1980s. His interest in boat building grew out of his love of the sporting and outdoor experiences available in the Northwest – duck hunting, fishing, hiking and beach combing. He also has a longstanding interest in Pacific Northwest History.

Shaw’s wife, Dee Anne, is a former journalist who serves on the Aberdeen City Council. They have a son who graduated from Washington State University last week.