Bookstore owner challenges town mayor

A Front Street business owner will challenge longtime Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes in the general election this November.

Meg Olson, owner of Kingfisher Bookstore and a former Blaine City Council member, filed to run against Hughes, who has served as mayor since 2016 following three terms on the Coupeville Town Council.

Olson has lived in Coupeville for five years and has been involved in civic life in every community she has lived in. The decision to run for mayor has been years in the making, she said.

Olson said her top priority if elected will be to hire a town administrator and reduce the mayor’s salary and hours. She said the mayor’s primary responsibilities should be to work with town council members to develop policy, interface and collaborate with community stakeholders and demonstrate positive leadership.

A town administrator would then fulfill administrative functions that have fallen to the mayor, such as managing human resources and overseeing budget and financial matters.

“I know what works, and I know how things can work better with the right structure,” Olson said.

Hughes said that as mayor, her goal “has always been to get as much work done for our residents and businesses as possible, with the financial and staffing resources we have.”

She named several priorities for her upcoming term as mayor, should she be re-elected, including implementing upgrades to parks in town; continuing to collect data on how climate change is impacting Coupeville’s shoreline and preparing mitigation strategies; evaluating the town’s stormwater system for capacity, treatment and release into Penn Cove; working with partners to boost tourism efforts; and continuing consistent street and utility infrastructure maintenance.

Hughes has served two terms as mayor, and this election will be her first with a challenger. Olson said she hopes her entering the running for the mayoral seat will inspire town residents to engage more with the issues.

“Elections and campaigns are the cornerstone of democracy because they allow dialogue,” she said. “Our current mayor is a good mayor but has run unopposed for quite a while.”

The general election will take place Nov. 7.