Colfax’s mayor has performed his other duty of service as a Washington State Patrol trooper for three decades, and earlier this month he was given its highest honor.

James Retzer was awarded the Chief Will Bachofner Award and named the 2019 Trooper of the Year, WSP announced May 4.

Retzer said Monday he was honored, humbled and surprised by the recognition.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be selected for that,” he said.

To be considered for the award, Retzer said troopers are nominated by WSP sergeants and are not only judged on job performance, but also community service and longevity.

“Trooper Retzer exemplifies the WSP’s motto of ‘Service with Humility,’ ” according to a statement from WSP. “Jim is a model trooper who is looked up to by his fellow employees, and community members as a dedicated public servant who truly cares about making his community a better place to live.”

Retzer said he wanted to be in law enforcement ever since troopers came to his high school in Castle Rock, Wash., to give safety presentations. He told his parents and everybody he knew that was the career he wanted.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he was hired by WSP on May 7, 1990. He was transferred to Colfax in 1994, and has called it home ever since.

“I consider (Colfax) to be one of the best little towns in the Palouse region or even the state to live in or raise a family,” Retzer said.

WSP highlighted the variety of ways Retzer has served his community.

He serves as a mentor to seniors at Colfax High School and is an active member of a community leadership team that raised more than $19,000 to help purchase new volleyball nets for the Colfax High School volleyball program.

He also eats lunch with special needs students at the high school where his wife works as a paraprofessional educator. Retzer said he enjoys seeing their eyes light up when he arrives in his trooper uniform.

“It puts a smile on their face,” he said.

Last year, Retzer was encouraged by members of the community to replace Todd Vanek as Colfax’s mayor. He was already a member of the Colfax Parks and Recreation Board and had shown interest in getting involved with the city council.

Retzer said he wanted to give back to the city that has supported him. He felt the time was right to go into politics and he ran for election unopposed in the fall.

“I felt that I could make a difference in my community,” he said.

Retzer said he enjoys living in a small town where people wave to him and stop to talk to him as he is walking around the city. He said they have been supportive of him “in every way that they can.”

Retzer said he could not have won the Chief Will Bachofner Award without the help of his community, family and fellow troopers.

“You don’t get that kind of success without tons of support,” he said.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at

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