Virgil Clarkson, one of the longest-serving city council members in Lacey history, confirmed Tuesday that this will be his last term.
His current term expires at the end of 2017, which will mark nearly 20 years of serving Lacey residents. Clarkson said he mentioned his decision at a recent Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce intergovernmental meeting and discussed it further on Tuesday.
“I am comfortable with the decision,” said Clarkson, who will turn 84 in March. “I’ve enjoyed serving the people of Lacey, but that’s not to say I will be a lame duck for the next two years. I will be even more forthright in my pursuit of those things I would like to see happen.”
Two issues remain key for Clarkson: helping senior citizens and the youths of Lacey.
“Not every (senior citizen) can be a resident at Panorama,” he said, referring to the prominent retirement community in the southeast area of the city, “but they still need to be cared for.”
During his time on the council, Clarkson was instrumental in the creation of a new Lacey Senior Center. Based on his efforts to establish and expand the center, it was recently renamed the Virgil S. Clarkson Senior Center.
“He’s not only a huge advocate for seniors, but he’s been a great mentor to me and a lot of members on the council,” Lenny Greenstein told The Olympian last year. “He’s the epitome of what you want in a public servant.”
As for Lacey youth, Clarkson wants to make sure the city continues to provide the infrastructure and atmosphere necessary to attract businesses. The Lacey area provides great educational opportunities through North Thurston Public Schools and Saint Martin’s University, for example, but he said he feels there are not enough employment opportunities when those students graduate, he said.
Clarkson was appointed to the council in 1998 and has successfully defended his seat ever since. He also is a past mayor and deputy mayor for the city. Lacey does not elect a mayor; the seven-member council appoints one of the council members to be mayor and deputy mayor every two years. The council is set to do that again on Thursday.
Meanwhile, more change could be coming to the council. Council member Michael Steadman has said he is considering a run to fill Sandra Romero’s seat on the Thurston County Commission. Commissioner Romero is not seeking re-election.