Alek Skarlatos has put his hat in the ring for the Douglas County commissioner seat recently vacated by Gary Leif.
Skarlatos made the announcement Tuesday evening at Douglas County Republican Party headquarters in downtown Roseburg.
The run for office is the latest adventure for Skarlatos, a hometown hero known for his role in taking down a would-be terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015.
Skarlatos went on to portray himself in a Clint Eastwood movie about the event, called “The 15:17 to Paris.”
Skarlatos and two of his friends took action after a gunman armed with a Russian-made AK-47, a handgun and a box cutter emerged from a train bathroom, then fired shots on the train, which was headed to Paris from Amsterdam.
Since then, Skarlatos has received multiple medals, been awarded the French Legion of Honor and taken third place on the ABC program “Dancing with the Stars.”
Skarlatos is a Roseburg High School graduate and a former Roseburg Costco employee. He spent five years as an Oregon Army National Guardsman with Charlie Company.
Since leaving the military in November, he’s been touring the country, making a living in public speaking. He recently bought a house just outside of Roseburg.
“I’ve traveled all over the world, and there’s no place I’d rather live than Douglas County, honestly,” he said.
He said he’s been interested in politics since he was a kid and he’s optimistic about the opportunity he hopes to have serving as a commissioner.
In an interview prior to the announcement, Skarlatos told The News-Review if elected, he would work to create more jobs in Douglas County. He’d particularly be interested in drawing in industrial jobs for skilled trade workers.
“Really I think that jobs bring in taxes, and if we can get people jobs that would make the whole community better off,” he said.
He also sees the county commissioner role as a chance to stand up for values he believes in, such as the Second Amendment.
Although he doesn’t have management experience, Skarlatos said his time in the military provided him with valuable experience he would use as a county commissioner.
“I know how structure works and I know how each person plays a part to make an organization function, and I know what causes organizations like that to break down, and I know what makes them successful,” he said. “I hope to make it more successful than not, using my experience in the military.”
Skarlatos, who is 25, said he thinks millennials get a bad rap, but “somebody is going to have to step up and represent the next generation in Douglas County. I think the political climate has led a lot of younger people to become interested in politics, myself included. I just hope to move Douglas County in a better direction.”
Leif was recently sworn in as the representative for state House District 2. The date for the election of his permanent replacement has not yet been announced, but will likely be in November.