Olympia City Councilwoman Cheryl Selby is the front-runner in the race for mayor against first-time candidate Marco Rossi.
Olympia voters will choose a new mayor in the Nov. 3 general election. The position is currently held by Mayor Stephen Buxbaum, who is not seeking re-election.
Here is a brief overview of the candidates. More information is available online in The Olympian’s 2015 General Election Voter Guide.
In the August primary, Selby finished with 70 percent of the vote compared to Rossi’s 27 percent.
She also holds a comfortable financial lead, raising $24,157 and spending $14,494 so far, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. Notable donors include the Thurston Affordable Housing Council (Olympia Master Builders), Washington Association of Realtors Political Affairs Council, Puget Sound Energy, and IAFF Local 468 union.
Selby, 54, owns a small clothing store near the Farmers Market, Vivala, and is finishing her second year on the city council. She has experience serving on community boards related to the Olympia School District, downtown Olympia, and local non-profits. She previously worked for the City of Olympia Parks and Recreation Department and the city’s Probation Services Department.
Notable supporters include Nathaniel Jones and Jeannine Roe from the Olympia City Council; former mayors Doug Mah, Mark Foutch, and Holly Gadbaw; Tumwater mayor Pete Kmet; and Lacey mayor Andy Ryder, as well as 22nd District State Reps. Chris Reykdal and Sam Hunt, 22nd District State Sen. Karen Fraser and Congressman Denny Heck.
Selby says she will focus on safety, building partnerships, and boosting the local economy. Priorities include addressing societal needs such as affordable housing and social services, she said, in addition to managing growth as the population increases. Selby supports the idea of starting with a $12-per-hour minimum wage at the state level, but said she prefers a regional discussion among Thurston County cities to determine a plan.
Rossi, 34, is a medical assistant at Planned Parenthood in Olympia and has a master’s degree in political science. He has experience serving on non-profit boards related to homeless outreach and worker rights.
Rossi began his campaign as part of a progressive platform called Olympia For All, which supports a $15 minimum wage, urban planning, police accountability and public involvement. The slate originally included two city council candidates, Rafael Ruiz and Ray Guerra, who have since ended their campaigns.
Rossi’s campaign has raised $9,198 and spent $3,414 so far, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. Notable donors include the UFCW 21 union, WFSE Local 443 union, and the Thurston-Lewis-Mason Central Labor Council.
Notable supporters include Mayor Stephen Buxbaum, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Thurston-Lewis-Mason Central Labor Council, Green Party of South Puget Sound, and unions including UFCW 21, WFSE 773 and WFSE 443.
Rossi’s campaign includes a focus on poverty and addressing the challenges of planning for population growth in Olympia. The $15-per-hour is one way to raise the standard of living for low-wage workers and the city’s marginalized people, he has said. He said he will focus on helping the city adapt to climate change while promoting urban density and public transit. He also supports the creation of electoral districts for Olympia City Council, instead of electing members at large, so that all sections of the city are represented.
If elected mayor, the council would appoint someone to Selby’s council seat (position 4).
She would also become the third female mayor in Olympia history.
Amanda Benek Smith was the city’s first female mayor and the first female mayor of any U.S. capital city, according to a report by the National Register of Historic Places. Smith served as mayor as well as police and fire commissioner from 1953-60, and presided over the construction of Interstate 5 through Olympia.
Holly Gadbaw served as mayor in 1988-89, and also served on the council from 1982-2001. At the time, the mayor was selected by fellow council members for two-year terms. Since 1991, the mayor has been elected by voters to a four-year term, rather than by council appointment.
VOTING IN THE ELECTION
The Thurston County Auditor sent mail-in ballots Oct. 14 to registered voters. Ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 or submitted at one of 26 ballot drop boxes in the county by that day. More information is available at co.thurston.wa.us/auditor.