Perry Dozier, a former two-term Walla Walla County commissioner, announced Friday he plans to return to political service with a run for the 16th Legislative District Senate seat.

Dozier, a Waitsburg-area Republican, said he plans to run for the seat currently held by Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place.

“My experience is diverse, and my desire is strong,” Dozier said in a prepared statement.

The announcement came just days before the general election and one year before the 16th District vote as Walsh’s term comes to an end in 2020.

A lifelong 16th District resident, Dozier operates irrigated and dryland farms in Franklin and Walla Walla counties. He is a graduate of Prescott High School and Whitman College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Over the last two decades, his announcement said, he has served as president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, on the Walla Walla County Planning Commission, as chairman of the Waitsburg Economic Development Committee and as commissioner of the Washington State Barley Commission.

Many, however, will know him for his service as a county commissioner. Dozier represented District 2, which encompasses much of the eastern half of Walla Walla County, from 2009-2016.

He opted not to seek re-election at the end of his second term, with a desire to return to private life and spend more time on his Waitsburg farm.

At the time of that announcement, Dozier had listed two of the more controversial decisions during his tenure among the highlights of his service.

Those included the commissioners’ decision to create a centralized hub for social service agencies in 2011 with purchase of property at 1520 Kelly Place. That move was ultimately beset by financial difficulties, and the property was back up for sale by 2016.

Dozier continued to support the concept that keeping social service agencies in one location was a good idea.

The second, according to 2016 coverage, was splitting the operation of the County Jail away from the Sheriff’s Office for the creation of a new Corrections Department under the supervision of the county commissioners.

After retiring from county commissioner service, Dozier and his wife were at the center of a water-bottling code change request that ultimately was withdrawn.

The couple sought a new definition in the county code for water bottling that would have allowed pumping, bottling and distribution of water in agricultural zones if the water were obtained from sources on the land where the bottling occurs and the landowner has water rights allowing the withdrawal.

The request was met with opposition by many county residents worried about the depletion of water resources and pollution from the manufacturing and transportation of bottles. The Doziers withdrew their request.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at or 509-526-8321.

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.