TUMWATER – Five candidates are vying to become Tumwater’s first newly elected mayor in 15 years.
The turnover comes as city officials face budget challenges, strained fire and police departments, the need to attract new businesses and the potential redevelopment of the former Olympia Brewery, a former economic engine that has been idle for six years.
The first order of business for the new mayor will be to appoint a new city administrator to oversee day-to-day operations of the city. The City Council must confirm the successor to current city administrator Doug Baker, who will leave Dec. 31.
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Cathey, 65, the former director of the YWCA of Olympia and an ordained Presbyterian minister, characterizes herself as a “change agent” and “stability builder” who wants to bring an increased level of transparency to city government.
Cathey said she wants both problems and achievements, particularly as they relate to development services and the issuing of permits, shared more openly with the council and public.
She said information often is compartmentalized among the mayor, city administrator and department heads.
“In a city with a river running through it, I want a better information flow,” she said.
She also said there needs to be better oversight of public works projects and more enforcement of the city’s tree-protection ordinance.
She said that if she’s elected, she will want to have a public conversation to hear ideas about redevelopment of the brewery property, which is privately owned, that could build momentum for its revitalization.
Cathey said she left the YWCA voluntarily and doesn’t plan to take a new job until her campaign is finished. She said she did not leave her job to run for mayor. The president of the YWCA’s board did not return a phone call seeking comment.
At a recent meeting, resident Tammy Weston criticized Cathey’s attendance record on the policy board that oversees the county’s 9-1-1 system before being cut off by Mayor Ralph Osgood. Cathey was the city’s representative on the board.
Cathey acknowledged there was a scheduling conflict with her job that made it difficult to fulfill her obligations. The mayor eventually appointed another council member to the board, she said.
Kover, 34, said he wants to bring common sense and a voter’s perspective to city administration.
Kover said he wants to increase the city’s retail tax base to pay for public services, including staffing the city’s second fire station, and favors providing tax relief to new and existing businesses to allow that to happen. He said the city could pay for this relief by trimming nonessential programs and services, and he opposes using public funds to subsidize the Tumwater Valley Golf Course, which the city has owned since 1996.
He said he would ensure that city government stretches every public dollar it spends and would advocate for the use of local contractors on public works projects.
He wants to bring the old brewery’s future to the forefront through public discussion.
Kover pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, a felony, and was sentenced to three months in jail and one year of supervision for pointing a shotgun at another driver in what the candidate said was a road-rage incident.
Kover said the other driver “tried to kill him with his car” by following too closely, swerving into this lane and braking suddenly in front of him on Interstate 5 on May 10, 1999. The driver got out of his car at a stoplight in downtown Olympia and approached Kover’s vehicle, he said. He said he loaded the shotgun but did not aim it at the driver. Kover said he did not know what caused the other driver to become angry.
Jack Jones, the deputy prosecuting attorney who handled the case, did not return a phone message seeking comment. Court records detailing the decade-old incident were not available.
Kover said he received inadequate legal representation from a public defender. His attorney, S. Don Phelps, was disbarred in 2004 after he was convicted of two counts of second-degree child molestation and for unwanted sexual contact with a client after Phelps encouraged that client to violate the terms of his pretrial release, according to information on the bar association’s Web site.
Kover provided The Olympian with a copy of his certificate of discharge, dated Feb. 14, 2005, that restored his voting rights. He registered to vote in Thurston County on Sept. 16, 2008, according to the auditor’s office. Under state law, felons lose their right to vote until they finish their sentences. A new law took effect last week to simplify the process of restoring voting and other civil rights to felons.
Kmet, 55, cites his 18 years of experience on the city council and his roots as a neighborhood activist as qualifications for being mayor. Current Mayor Ralph Osgood has endorsed his candidacy.
“I’d like to use my experience to move Tumwater forward,” he said.
He said that if he’s elected, he will work for a financially sound city government, continued management of growth and attraction of locally owned businesses. He said there is limited opportunity for the expansion of large retailers.
Kmet, a co-founder of the Tumwater Hill Neighborhood Association, said that as mayor, he would continue to work to protect and enhance neighborhoods.
He said he would work for mixed-use redevelopment of the brewery, such as helping the city secure grant money or putting together information about the city’s role in the process to attract interested buyers.
McClanahan, 57, touts his experience as a former Thurston County undersheriff and a Tumwater City Council member, as well as his leadership on homeless issues.
McClanahan said he is in discussions with a windmill blade manufacturer to bring a plant to Tumwater and is helping to seek funding for a new salmon hatchery at Pioneer Park.
McClanahan is chairman of a committee exploring the future of Capitol Lake and said he has been asked to get involved in efforts to clean up Budd Inlet.
McClanahan said that if he’s elected, he will promote responsible business development, secure public ownership of the old brewery, including a trail system, and work to staff the city’s second fire station in the north end of the city.
“You can’t have public safety if you can’t have the economic stability and resources to pay for local fire and police,” he said.
McClanahan is expected to receive deferred prosecution in September following his drunken-driving arrest in May. The charge against him would be dismissed in three years if he completes the intensive two-year treatment program and complies with all other conditions imposed by the court. McClanahan said he is an alcoholic and sought treatment following his arrest. He said his treatment would not conflict with his duties as mayor. He said he voluntarily sought treatment twice before his arrest.
Raatz, 45, a self-described private person, said he’s running because the city he loves is in decline, with a focus not on the people and an attitude closed to business. He said that if he’s elected, he will work to reverse both those trends.
He said he’s concerned about Tumwater residents shopping elsewhere, with other cities receiving those tax dollars. He wants to build the retail base with large businesses that would serve as a “spark” for locally owned, smaller businesses. He said “nothing is off the table when it comes to the brewery.”
He criticized the council’s recent decision to table a proposed levy-lid lift to hire additional police officers and firefighters. He said council members should have considered a Plan B, a smaller request to pay for one or two firefighters. Council members running for mayor defended the decision, saying the statewide tax initiative, if passed in November, would have invalidated the levy measure.
Raatz said he would have a Plan B for everything and that the City Council should provide more oversight of public works projects.
Christian Hill: 360-754-5427
Five candidates are running to become Tumwater’s mayor in January 2010. The top two voter-getters in this month’s primary election will face off during the general election in November.
The mayor will earn $17,400 next year. The mayor’s term is four years. It is a nonpartisan position.
Occupation: Former executive director of YWCA of Olympia
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Pasadena College (now called Point Loma Nazarene University), Pasadena, Calif., 1966; two master’s degrees, in psychology, 1976, and in divinity, 1978. Both degrees were earned at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.
Goverment experience: Tumwater City Council, January 2008 to present
Contact: 360-790-9699; firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign finance: Cathey has raised $2,570.11 in cash and in-kind donations and spent $1,141.88, according to campaign-finance records filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. She has $813.12 on hand.
Three top contributors:
1. Ed Stanley, Tumwater city councilman, $250
2. Seven individuals contributed $100
3. Christine Garst, Olympia, $75
Occupation: Senior environmental engineer, state Department of Ecology
Education: Bachelor’s degree, civil engineering, Norwich University, a private military college; master’s degree, environmental engineering, University of Wisconsin
Goverment experience: Tumwater city councilman, 1991 to present; mayor pro tem, 1996 to present
Family: He and his wife, Nancy, have two children, Michael, 21, and Nicholas, 17
Contact: 360-943-4550; email@example.com
Campaign finance: As of July 28, Kmet has raised $3,687.45 in cash and in-kind donations and spent $2,604.15. He has $1,083.30 on hand.
1. Frank Hensley, commissioner for the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission, $300
2. Wayne Lieb, Putnam Lieb, an Olympia law firm, $200; Wayne Williams, Williams, Wyckoff & Ostrander, an Olympia law firm, also $200
3. Seven individuals have contributed $100, including Mayor Ralph Osgood.
Occupation: Landscaper, precious-metal trader
Education: Attended South Puget Sound Community College
Goverment experience: None
Contact: 360-259-1729; firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign finance: Kover indicated to the Public Disclosure Commission that he will not raise or spend more than $5,000 on his campaign and therefore doesn’t have to file campaign-finance reports with the agency. He said he raised $1,500 and an in-kind donation of signs and spent $600 so far.
Occupation: Former Thurston County undersheriff
Education: Bachelor’s degree, The Evergreen State College, 1974; two years of graduate work at University of Puget Sound, 1976 to 1978; graduate of FBI Academy, 179th session, 1994
Goverment experience: Tumwater city councilman, 2004 to present
Family: His wife of 10 years, Sandra; three daughters, Megan, 30, Molly, 28, Kaitlin, 26; and two grandchildren
Contact: 360-791-0740; email@example.com; www.neilmcclanahan.com
Campaign finance: McClanahan raised $10,031.61 in cash and in-kind donations and has spent $5,276.61
Three top contributors:
1. Bryon McClanahan, his father, and Byron McClanahan Jr., his brother, $500
2. Clair Ferris, funeral director for Funeral Alternatives of Washington, and Janet McClanahan, his ex-wife, $250
3. Jim Bennet, Realtor for ReMax, $200
Education: Attended Pierce College; three years, National Guard; 12 years, active-duty Army, discharged as non-commissioned officer
Occupation: Truck mechanic, welder and fabricator who works for Gresham Transfer out of its Kent terminal
Goverment experience: None
Family: He and his wife of 22 years, Sylvia, have a daughter, Rachel, 20
Contact: 360-705-3169; firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign finance: Raatz indicated to the Public Disclosure Commission that he will not raise or spend more than $5,000 on his campaign and therefore doesn’t have to file campaign-finance reports with the agency. He said he has spent $888 of his own money and raised none.
“Politicians should put their own money where their mouth is, not other people’s money,” he wrote in an e-mail.
Christian Hill/The Olympian