Only one seat on the Lacey City Council is contested this fall. Incumbent Jeff Gadman, who works in real-estate appraisal for Thurston County, is challenged by Bill Frare, a first-time candidate who works as an assistant director in a state government agency.
Gadman, 54, has a broader vision and more experience in city issues, and we endorse him for the council’s Position 3.
Two other incumbents on the council, Lenny Greenstein and Jason Hearn, are running unopposed.
As Gadman nears the end of his first full term on the council, he offers sensible priorities for the city, which struggles because of poor land-use choices in the past when developers called the shots at city hall.
His agenda includes completion of traffic improvements along the College Street corridor, securing additional legislative funds for expanding the Interstate 5 interchanges at Marvin Road and Martin Way, and improving city government’s use of social media to inform the public about pending government decisions and opportunities to comment on city actions.
Gadman’s effort to use social media hasn’t gone well so far. We expect him to get more traction in his next term.
Frare, 51, struck us as an intelligent, sincere man who works for the state Department of Enterprise Services as an assistant director overseeing architectural and engineering services. He shares concerns about College Street’s uneven development, especially the lack of sidewalks in key areas and challenges for pedestrians near roundabouts.
But Frare’s opposition to limiting what developers may do with property are out of step with Lacey’s move to a more orderly landscape that includes a viable downtown district and development of the Gateway properties north of I-5 near Marvin Road.
Gadman is committed to steering development to designated urban-growth areas, but is not blind to the needs of developers. His said his work with the Thurston County Assessor’s Office since 1986, doing commercial appraisals since 1998, taught him that timing is important when adding requirements to land-use regulations.
Frare’s goal of rescinding the city’s ban on merchants using disposable plastic shopping bags — even before the ban had time to show its worth in reducing litter or debris in waterways — strikes us as ill considered. Gadman is part of a four-vote majority on the council that narrowly rejected a call to put the city bag ordinance on the ballot; he wisely rejected a private political committee’s offer to pay the election cost.
If elected, Frare would move to put the issue on the ballot as soon as is feasible. To his credit, he’d have the city pay for it.
Gadman is more sensible on the bag issue. He said that a county-wide scientific opinion survey is planned in June 2016, after the ban has been in place nearly two years, and he would then be willing to put the issue to a city vote and abide by public wishes at that time.
If he doesn’t win this race, we hope Frare gets involved in one of the city’s various advisory groups or commissions, which could give him a chance to broaden his understanding of city challenges.
Taking everything into account, Lacey is better served having Jeff Gadman on its City Council.