Lacey City Councilman Michael Steadman apologized Thursday for his aggressive behavior toward a critic, saying he wasn’t proud of his conduct and that he had distracted the council from its business.
“I sincerely apologize to the council, staff and the citizens of Lacey,” he said. “As an elected official, I can do better and I will do better.”
Steadman had been embroiled in a hostile exchange of text messages with a former political rival, Jacob Vaughan, in which he called Vaughan a “coward” and seemed to threaten him. Vaughan made the texts public and called on Steadman to apologize or resign.
In the end, Steadman not only apologized, but shook Vaughan’s hand as the meeting ended and hugged him.
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“That’s all I was looking for,” said Vaughan of the apology.
Mayor Andy Ryder also read a prepared statement, and Councilman Virgil Clarkson shared his thoughts about Steadman’s behavior as well. All three spoke toward the end of the meeting.
Earlier this month, Vaughan, who ran for Lacey City Council in 2013, had posted an Olympian story on his Facebook page about Steadman’s statement that he felt “bullied” by a resident who attended a council meeting. Vaughan asked how Steadman, a former Marine, could possibly feel bullied by anyone.
That led to an angry exchange of texts between the two, and Vaughn felt Steadman’s hostility had gone too far, so he shared those texts with a reporter and the council. Among the texts, Steadman wrote, “Coward, steer clear of me and I’ll do the same, if not, then you’ve been warned!”
Before Steadman’s apology Thursday night, Mayor Ryder read his own statement.
“I want to be clear that I’m speaking for myself, but in my opinion, council member Steadman has violated the council’s adopted standards and should apologize for his recent actions and interactions with a specific member of the public,” Ryder said.
Councilman Virgil Clarkson, who has served 18 years on the council, said he has received more phone calls about Steadman’s recent conduct than when he tried to get fireworks banned in Lacey.
Clarkson asked Steadman to consider this: Anything that reflects adversely on him, reflects adversely on the entire council.
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Steadman said Thursday. “All I can do is go on from here and do right by all concerned, including Mr. Jacob Vaughan. I will not be a topic of concern again.”