Lacey City Council approved a resolution last week showing support for an upcoming North Thurston Public Schools replacement, maintenance and operations levy.
Voters in North Thurston Public Schools’ district, which includes the city of Lacey, will determine the outcome of the levy vote on Feb. 9.
But what seemed like a straightforward resolution last Thursday night turned into a robust discussion about the merits of the resolution itself, eliciting comment from all seven members of the council.
Councilman Lenny Greenstein kicked off the discussion by sharing a long-held view: Although he supports the levy as an individual and voted in favor of it, he doesn’t believe it is the council’s position to tell people how to vote.
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“It’s just a matter of what I think is right,” he said Tuesday afternoon in a follow-up conversation. “It’s not proper for an elected body to take a position on something that is going to go before the voters.”
Greenstein said he has taken this position on previous council resolutions that showed support for local ballot measures, such as a recent levy for Lacey Fire District 3.
There’s also precedent for this view on the council. Former Lacey City Councilwoman Ann Burgman shared the same belief.
“I truly believe that people should receive the information for themselves and make up their own minds,” Burgman once said, according to Olympian archives.
But the rest of the council on Thursday took the opposite view on the North Thurston Public Schools levy resolution.
Councilman Jeff Gadman said the city has a direct interest in the education of its students.
“The future of the city depends on the quality of students graduating out of our schools,” he said.
Other council members echoed similar comments.
“It’s really important to show that we feel students should have the resources they need in order to be successful,” said Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt.
Mayor Andy Ryder shared an anecdote with the council, telling them that he recently learned that 60 percent of the military community at Joint Base Lewis-McChord chooses to live in Lacey because “we have great schools.”
“I will always support our schools,” Ryder said.