Posted by Matthew DeBord on Oct 21, 2019
Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
Meeting of October 21, 2019
 
Today’s Program: City of Olympia Mayor and City Council Forum
 
Meeting Called to order by President Colleen Gillespie
 
  • Invocation by: Bill Latta
  • Pledge of Allegiance led by: Bob Wubbena
  • Song: America the Beautiful led by Gloria Strait
  • Four Way Test led by: Bill Fishburn
 
Visiting Rotarians
None
 
Guest of Rotarians
  • Richard Hull – Richard’s wife, Dr. Diane Curry,
  • Gloria Strait - Janice Churchill (Sales Manager for the new Olympia Co-op),
  • Ralph Munro - Elizabeth Wood
  • Judy Henderson - Dr. George Bridges (President of the Evergreen State College)
  • Bob Heck - Tom Madeley (St. Martin’s University)
  • Tom McLean - Kathy Saunders (World Vision)
  • Al Cohen – Jeff Booth (husband of candidate Phyllis Booth)
  • Cheryl Selby – Molly Sullivan (campaign manager).   
Happy Bucks
  • Lorie Linn – Didn’t have to spend the night at JFK. 
  • Cyndi Zechmann – Husband Jerome had to have emergency surgery, but is doing well and recovering. 
  • Bob Heck – Set a new personal record on a run in Oregon over the weekend.
  • Don Chalmers – Celebrating the ducks beating the huskies. 
Announcements:
  • Rotary Point Park Cleanup – Saturday, October 26th from 9-11 AM
  • World Polio Day October 24, 2019 – 11 AM – 11PM at O’Blarney’s in Lacey.   $2 of every pint sold goes to fight polio.    
Program - City of Olympia Mayor and City Council Forum
 
Moderator – Dick Cushing
 
3-minute introductions:
 
Nathaniel Jones – Olympia City Councilmember, Candidate for Mayor
Mr. Jones has lived in Olympia since 1991 and raised his family here.  He has vast experience in state and local government work, including restoring the Tivoli Fountain on the capitol campus prior to his retirement.  Mr. Jones wants to improve the vibrancy and economics of our city and develop the arts and cultural center but has to admit the #1 issue facing our community is homelessness.  www.nathaniel-jones.com
 
Cheryl Selby – Olympia Mayor, running for re-election
Cheryl is a proud Olympian with diverse experience as a retail storeowner, volunteer for non-profits and a former employee of the City of Olympia in the parks department.  Has lived in Olympia for 25 years, raised her family here.  He has a blend of private/public/non-profit and elected official experience.  She asked the crowd to visit www.electcherylselby.com for further information. 
 
Jessica Bateman – Olympia City Councilmember, Mayor Pro-Tem, running for re-election
Jessica graduated from The Evergreen State College and has a graduate degree in Public Administration from TESC, served on the Olympia Planning Commission, and works as a policy analyst for the Association for Community Health.  Jessica was the campaign leader for the Home Fund was instrumental in setting up the stability site and Plum Street tiny home village and worked to pass House Bill 1406, which will bring $300,000 in new funding to the City of Olympia in 2020 to help fight homelessness.  She oversaw the expansion of the walking patrol and the crisis response unit and has worked to expand the community court.  She asked attendees to visit www.reelectjessicabateman.com
 
Dani Madrone – Candidate for Olympia City Council
Dani graduated from The Evergreen State College and has a graduate degree in Public Administration from TESC.  Dani works on Puget Sound Recovery with the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.  Dani wants to work to address homelessness by understanding the data on housing affordability and using performance measurement to direct actions.  Dani also wants to address climate change and the environment.  www.danimadrone.com
 
Phyllis Booth – Candidate for Olympia City Council
Phyllis has been a volunteer in our community for over 30 years, including work on Quixote Village and she has attending city council meetings for the past 7 years.  Phyllis believes that transparency is one of the biggest issues with the city, as homeless encampment sweeps and moving boulders under bridges have been done at a high cost with no transparency to taxpayers.  She opposes the missing middle and would eliminate tax exemptions for development of multi-family in the downtown core.   
 
Question 1 – Homelessness – How do we address it?
 
Nathaniel Jones – This is the issue of the day and it is a national problem.  Nathaniel wants to do what it takes to keep people in their homes and if they become homeless, they need to be re-housed as soon as possible.  Olympia is a magnet for the surrounding counties for homeless services.  The police are doing a good job downtown, but we need more data and performance management and standards to address this issue. 
 
Cheryl Selby – Cheryl was instrumental along with a grant from the Evergreen Christian School in bringing on Colin DeForrest as the Homeless Response Coordinator.  The city is doing everything they can to address the issue, including Plum Street Tiny Village, new tiny home villages in the pipeline with local churches and reaching out to the public to discuss the issue.  She believes we need more support from our local municipalities to address this issue.   
 
Jessica Bateman – Olympia is a regional hub for homelessness services and we need to seek more housing and transportation money from the state.  She is working on tenant protections to reduce new homelessness and on place making and supports the Downtown Improvement District.
 
Dani Madrone – Dani believes that we need more adaptive management to shift resources to programs that work at reducing homelessness and getting people re-housed.  We need better management of outside areas, but the legal challenges with RVs and unsanctioned camps are complex. 
 
Phyllis Booth – Phyllis has practical ideas that come from over 30 years of watching the erosion of affordable housing.  She suggests more shared housing and a KAO campground with a DASH shuttle service.  She also that we need more budgeting classes in our schools. 
 
Capitol Lake – Lake or Estuary?
 
Phyllis – She supports removal of the dam.
 
Dani – Experienced with work on Puget Sound recovery, she understands that this is a decision that will be made by the state, but also understands that environmental impacts need to be weighed along with the impacts to the working waterfront. 
 
Jessica – Phase II Environmental Impact Statement – She has been involved in the process and think we should use the best current science to make a decision.
 
Cheryl - Phase II Environmental Impact Statement, she is part of the capitol lake group that meets regularly and many groups that are interested in the process, this process will likely take 3 years to complete and she is concerned about the sediment and its impact on the shipping canal. 
 
Nathaniel –Believes the science is clear and is knowledgeable about the process from his experience working for the state, it will be a state decision, but Olympia needs to assert itself in the process.  The dam needs to be removed. 
 
Strong Mayor vs. Strong City Manager?
 
Nathaniel – The strong City Manager form of government was established 40 years ago and now may be a good time to re-assess.  Maybe should also consider districts for city council seats similar to the way Thurston County does it.
 
Cheryl – With Steve Hall’s retirement, it is appropriate to look at other forms of government, but the decision needs to be made by the public with a vote on the ballot. 
 
Jessica – This should be a discussion with the community, she is looking forward to a study session on this, and she asked if this should be a high priority with so many other important issues to address in our community.
 
Dani – Believes that this will be another issue that causes disagreement and divisiveness.  She has a concern with the capacity of the council and that this might use up valuable resources and that a change might ultimately fail on the ballot. 
 
Phyllis – Would like to look at it, because she feels that there has been a lack of transparency, but that a strong mayor could be a problem.
 
Olympia offers more resources than most, but also suffers impacts from being the center for services.  How do we find a balance between offering services and not reducing quality of life?
 
Phyllis – We need a regional approach, the city council jumped the gun, jobs at the brewery are disappearing.
 
Dani – This is a humanitarian crisis, but also there are nuisance crimes downtown that affect our revenue as a city.  She will work to find a better balance.
 
Jessica – We are doing more than any other city of our size to address homelessness.  We need to do more to address homelessness at the state level and provide a model to other cities.
 
Cheryl – There is not one type of homelessness.  There is economic/mental health/addiction.  We need to encourage our neighbors to join us and do more.
 
Nathaniel – Olympia is a magnet for services and we have spent more than $6 million on addressing homelessness.  We need a regional approach with more support from our neighbors.
 
What can the city do to encourage development of more housing units?
 
Nathaniel – Accessory Dwelling Units, the missing middle and the multifamily tax exemption are all tools we are using to encourage investment in Olympia.  Nathanial is also looking at ways to encourage more development by collaborating with developers on infrastructure.
 
Cheryl – We are expecting 25% growth downtown; the downtown strategy was a pro-active approach and has led to over 700 units under construction or in the pipeline for downtown.  Cheryl is also looking into tenant protections.
Jessica – The “Silver Tsunami” will result in many vulnerable baby boomers under financial distress.  The missing middle and the comprehensive plan are positive steps for addressing housing and they are looking for additional community input.
 
Dani – Dani was a single mother who struggled to afford a basement apartment.  She understands this crisis and will work to address this issue.
 
Phyllis – We need to get rid of the property tax exemptions for luxury apartments, we need to get 500 lobbyists to get the mental patients off the streets and we need more shared housing, there are too many couples living in 3,000 sf houses.
 
Mr. Snappy Winner: Bob Wubbena, who earned a $25 gift card to the South Bay Dickerson’s BBQ.
 

Meeting Adjourned by President Colleen Gillespie