Lacey challenger points to stark differences

City Council member Cynthia Pratt contradicts charges by Ray Payne that she skips land-use panel meetings

rboone@theolympian.comOctober 30, 2013 

Lacey City Council candidate Ray Payne came out swinging Tuesday, contending just days before the election that Position 4 incumbent Cynthia Pratt has failed in her duties as an elected official because of a poor record of attending land-use committee meetings.

Pratt, chairwoman of the committee, denied the charges.

In a news release Tuesday, Payne, citing city records, said that Pratt has attended only six of 11 land-use committee meetings this year.

“This dismal record of attendance is evidence my opponent is not standing up for the needs of Lacey,” he said.

Pratt, 70, who is completing her first term, said the accusation was not true. She pointed out that the meetings are sometimes canceled if they lack an agenda item. A check of her records showed that the land-use committee meeting was canceled four times but that she was in attendance for the remaining meetings.

“I’m so sorry he said that,” Pratt said, adding, “It looks bad for him, too.”

She said she planned to attend the next land-use committee meeting, which is set for noon Monday.

Payne, 44, serves on the Lacey Planning Commission and ran for City Council in 2011, failing to advance in the primary. Payne is a public works dispatcher for the city of Olympia and a 21-year veteran of the Air Force.

He has said that if elected, his goals would be to focus on private-sector job creation and encourage a strategic thinking and visionary council. The city needs a more common-sense environmental policy, he noted, saying it is tilted too far to environmental needs.

“And it’s going to get worse with Pratt,” he said.

Pratt was a longtime employee with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources. Some of her career was spent working as a fish and wildlife biologist, she said.

Pratt’s election goals include turning the Woodland Square Loop business district into a key destination, an area of Lacey near Sixth Avenue that has become more known for its vacant buildings. She’s also a supporter of a proposed plastic bag ban.

Payne is “absolutely opposed to it,” saying the city should focus on educating the public about disposing of plastic bags responsibly.

He said the differences between Pratt and himself are pretty stark: She feels government knows best, while he feels the private sector knows best.

“We couldn’t be more different,” Payne said.

For his campaign, Payne has raised about $4,250, with top contributions coming from the Washington Realtors Association political action committee and the Affordable Housing Council (Olympia Master Builders), according to state Public Disclosure Commission data.

Pratt has raised more than $10,000, with top contributions coming from labor groups and a political action committee called Progress for Public Safety.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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