LACEY - Newly appointed Lacey City Council member Jeff Gadman is no stranger to Lacey or working in government.
The 49-year-old husband and father of two has worked at the Thurston County Assessor’s Office for 24 years, the past 15 as a commercial property appraiser. He has lived in the area since 1968, and in Lacey for about half his life.
During his time working for the county, he has grown familiar with budgets, ordinances, zoning and working with the public. The real challenge of being a council member, he said, will be getting to know his new colleagues, learning the inner workings of the council and the city and making his case to voters, whom he’ll have to face this year.
Gadman says that as a council member he’ll stand on the ideals of open and transparent government and prioritizing interaction with residents.
“I understand how frustrating it can be to deal with government sometimes,” he said.
He also said one of his strengths is building coalitions and bringing diverse points of view together to find common ground.
He’s a relative newcomer on the political scene. Last year he ran unsuccessfully for Thurston County assessor, placing fourth in the August primary. It was his first run at public office, and he said the process will help him during his campaigning this year. He already has filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, as has Lenny Greenstein, who applied for the council seat and was nominated.
Gadman recently sat down with The Olympian to discuss his goals, how his background will be beneficial and how he has learned from his first try at public office.
What are some of your immediate goals?
My absolute first goal is to get to know the council members and department directors and learn something about the inner workings of the council.
I recognize the next 10 to 11 months, I’m not going to move mountains. But I would like to see some movement on assuring we have a good water supply for the future. I’d like to see us make some movement on attracting businesses that offer family-wage jobs while at the same time having a minimal environmental footprint.
You’re filling an unexpired term that’s up for election this November. When does campaign mode start? What’s your strategy?
I talk about some of the things that I’ve done in the past. I’ve been president of PTA, president of the homeowners association I belong to, citizens financial advisory committee for North Thurston Public Schools, executive board member of union.
I’ve worked in leadership positions in decent-sized organizations for a while now.
I’m going to play on those experiences and let people know some of what I’d like to see in the city. The city of Lacey has been very well-run forever and so, there really isn’t a point where someone can come in and say they are going to call for drastic changes.
You ran for assessor last year and didn’t make it past the primary. What did you learn?
I learned that people in this area are incredibly intelligent and have a lot of ideas about how they would like to see their community shaped. I guess, probably, in the middle of August after the primary was done, I realized how much I didn’t know about running for office. I had never been politically active before, and I thought I could stand up and say “I have a good idea, why don’t you vote for me?” It does require a little bit of politics to do that, and I haven’t really been a political person before.
There’s some things I spent money on that I shouldn’t have. Without a political base, it was very, very difficult to raise money. Without a political base, it was very, very difficult to find volunteers.
How will you apply your work knowledge to Lacey City Council?
The first thing is, I understand how government works. I understand how laws/ordinances are crafted and passed and implemented. I understand zoning and how that process works and then I also understand government budgeting. So then beyond that, as a commercial appraiser, the business connections I’ve been able to develop over the years. I’ve got a good working relationship with a lot of business owners, a lot of commercial property owners, tax representatives from all over the county, but primarily there.
That gives me an understanding of what I’m looking at.
Nate Hulings: 360-7545476 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/outsideoly