Tenino mayor takes pothole jokes on the road

The Chronicle (Centralia)April 22, 2013 

teninomayor

Tenino Mayor Eric Strawn stands outside Tenino City Hall on Jan. 13. (Chris Geier/The Chronicle)

CHRIS GEIER — The Chronicle

If you live in Tenino and are hoping to see local potholes repaired, you may be out of luck.

At the BJ Shea Comedy Riot recently, Tenino Mayor Eric Strawn poked fun at residents concerned about needed road repairs.

“I got a lot of citizens come up to me at the bar. … The No. 1 thing they want to know from their mayor at the bar is when their pothole is going to be filled. I … swear to god,” he joked to the audience of 800 gathered at the Neptune Theater in Seattle.

“When’s my … pothole going to be filled? It’s messing my car up,” Strawn said, imitating his interpretation of a resident’s whining.

Frustration with the criticism he faces — specifically from members of his city council — also came up during the 10-minute routine.

“People are probably out there right now conspiring to recall me for doing this show. I say (expletive),” Strawn said.

Last month, the Tenino mayor called in to KISW radio and was invited, on air, to open for comedians Doug Benson and Graham Elwood at the Comedy Riot.

The offer came on the heels of Strawn’s March 8 call-in to the radio show, during which Strawn performed parts of his new stand-up comedy routine, and the March 12 playing of that performance to a Tenino City Council that was not amused.

Tenino council member Wayne Fournier said he was appalled by the mayor’s comedy performance.

“It’s more and more evident the guy brings nothing to the table except serving his own self-indulgent garbage. It’s all about him,” Fournier said. “He was not put on that stage because he’s talented. It was because he’s a spectacle willing to take community on stage with him.”

“He’s a freak show,” Fournier said.

The councilman was particularly disgusted, he said, by Strawn’s jokes that made light of domestic violence and child molestation.

“We’ve got people in the community actually dealing with those issues,” he said.

Council member Frank Anderson said he took issue with the mayor’s apparent lack of respect for his citizens.

During his 20 years as a city councilman, Anderson said, he has come to understand that interacting with citizens — and fielding their complaints — is part of the job.

“Obviously you can’t fix it right at that moment, but you listen and take it under advisement,” he said.

“If you’ve been drinking, you shouldn’t be talking city business anyway,” Anderson added. “Tell them to see you later when you’re in a better frame of mind.”

When asked if he thought the mayor could be recalled, Fournier said he wasn’t sure.

There might be sufficient charges — in recent weeks the mayor has been accused of assault, trespassing and restricting freedom of speech — but residents are reluctant to act after the last failed recall, Fournier said.

“They think now that it takes some act of God to get it through,” Fournier said.

“But I think you could easily get the (needed) signatures standing in front of the post office in a day.”

The hosts of the KISW morning show, as well as headliners Benson and Elwood, reviewed Strawn’s performance.

Overall, the DJs were underwhelmed by the mayor — whom they dubbed “his honor cussy-mouth” — but gave him credit for the courage to take on an audience of 800.

The comedians were also impressed, they said on air, by Strawn’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“I love this guy because the marketing department is already in full gear,” Elwood said, “It doesn’t matter how the content is.”

Even if Strawn doesn’t get re-elected, he at least has a brand to fall back on, they joked.

“He put Tenino on the map,” Shea said.

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