Former Bothell mayor, real estate developer announces gubernatorial run

If Joshua Freed were elected governor, he would be the first Republican since 1980 to hold the office.

Former Bothell Mayor and real estate developer Joshua Freed announced Sept. 6 that he is throwing his hat into the state gubernutorial race.

“I’m running for governor to put Olympia back to work for those who truly need help,” Freed said in a campaign video.

In his announcement, Freed, who is a Republican, cited increases in crime, addiction and homelessness as catalysts for his decision to campaign. Other Republicans seeking the gubernatorial position are Republic police chief Loren Culp, Auburn senator Phil Fortunado and Maple Valley program manager Anton Sakharov.

Gov. Jay Inslee, the Democratic incumbent, is also running following the dissolution of his presidential campaign.

As governor, Freed said in his video that he will lead the effort to reduce homelessness and drug abuse by repurposing underutilized state facilities and converting them into homeless housing and recovery centers, which would include onsite job training to enable a smoother transition into everyday life.

In the video, Freed said Olympia has become “numb” to the condition of the mentally ill and additionally cited a “complete overhaul” of the state mental-health system as one of his gubernatorial objectives. Freed also said that, as governor, he will work to increase governmental transparency and oppose a state income tax.

“We need to clean up our cities and get people the help they need,” he said in the video.

Freed said that the tenacity instilled in him through his business experience and tenures as a Bothell councilmember and then mayor will be beneficial as governor. He invoked previous missionary work in the Philippines and in Kenya as additional examples of his ability to effectively help communities in need.

“I’ve been to some of the most desperately poor places in the world,” Freed said in the video. “I can assure you, we don’t have to give up.”

Freed also brought up a 2017 King County initiative he launched to ban heroin injection sites — which he said in an announcement email forced the “government to deal with the opioid crisis with compassionate and proven solutions” — as an example of his previous work addressing addiction in Washington. Last year, the state Supreme court unanimously ruled the initiative unconstitutional.

Freed, who was born and raised in Washington, currently lives in Bothell with his wife and children. After graduating from Kenmore’s Inglemoor High School, he received a degree from Seattle Public University.

Freed faced controversy and public backlash during his time as a Bothell official in part due to his being a real estate developer and governmental figure concurrently while the city was working to purchase the Wayne Golf Course property.

The gubernatorial election’s primaries are slated for Aug. 4, 2020. The general election is set for Nov. 3 of that year. If Freed were to take office, it would make him the first Republican Washington state governor since 1980.

“As I travel around our state, a lot of people are telling me it feels like there’s two different Washingtons,” he said in the video. “But the division isn’t east or west or red or blue — it’s more significant.”

For more information about Freed’s campaign, visit