Lacey City Council candidates Jeff Gadman and Bill Frare differ on whether the city of Lacey has a role to play in addressing homelessness in the area.
Those opinions, plus others, were recently shared with The Olympian’s editorial board. Each candidate appeared separately before the board.
Gadman, the incumbent and a longtime employee in the Thurston County Assessor’s Office, is seeking a third term on the council. The challenger, Bill Frare, works for the state Department of Enterprise Services. He is running for elected office for the first time.
The candidates shared similar views about transportation, with both supporting a plan to make improvements to busy College Street.
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But they differed in other areas, such as whether Lacey has a role to help with homelessness in the area, a problem largely addressed in the city of Olympia.
Gadman absolutely believes that Lacey has a role because some homeless pass through or come from Lacey, he said.
Rapid rehousing offered through local nonprofits is one way to address the problem, Gadman said, but more serious cases are the larger challenge.
“This country’s mental health program is broken,” he said, adding that he supports the idea of a local “triage center” that could make mental health evaluations to determine whether someone was simply in need of medication or something more serious.
Gadman believes such a program could save money spent on incarceration and court time.
Frare believes that Lacey has a role, too, in addressing homelessness, but would rather see the city work with existing nonprofits. He’s not in favor, for example, of a program that would distribute free hypodermic needles.
“I’m not as interested in perpetuating or sustaining a lifestyle that is a draw on everybody,” he said. “If you want help, there should be help to guide and assist someone into a new way of life. But I’m not in favor of passing out needles and making that lifestyle tolerable.”
The candidates also differ on the city’s plastic bag ban.
If elected, Frare’s first effort on the council will be to move that the council place the plastic bag ban on a future ballot, and to pay for it with city money, he said.
“Lacey is a well-managed city, but I do think the City Council is disconnected with the wishes of the population,” he said. “An example is the bag ban.”
Gadman supports the bag ban and thinks that it has been good for the environment, although he is prepared to abide by the results of a scientific survey set for June 2016, the two-year mark of the ban. Plastic bag bans are also in effect in Olympia, Tumwater and unincorporated Thurston County.
The two also disagree on Lacey Gateway, the proposed mixed-use development near Cabela’s that is now owned by the Nisqually Tribe and Bellevue-based developer Mon Wig:
Gadman: “The biggest thing to ensure is that the development fits with Lacey,” adding that he wants to avoid a half-built project that becomes a “ghost development” because the developer or public tastes change.
Frare: “We should create the opportunity, set the stage and let the market take care of the rest,” he said. However, if the development becomes tribal trust land, the city needs to secure a service agreement with the tribe to replace sales tax revenue.
Gadman leads Frare in total fundraising with about $12,000, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. His top cash donor is a group called Progress for Public Safety. Frare has raised about $10,000, the PDC data show. His top cash donor is the Thurston County Republican Party.