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Olympia candidates court voters via mail

Olympia voters have received an array of fliers this election season for local candidates and a park tax proposal.
Olympia voters have received an array of fliers this election season for local candidates and a park tax proposal. The Olympian

In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 election, candidates for city of Olympia posts have taken the safe route in their campaign literature by sticking to general facts and promises, according to a quick analysis by The Olympian.

But at least one unclear flier has caused some confusion.

Below is an overview of what’s been showing up in Olympia mailboxes. More information about the candidates is available online in The Olympian’s 2015 General Election Voter Guide.

ENDORSEMENT CLARIFICATION

A flier this week from mayoral candidate Marco Rossi includes an excerpt from a letter to the editor that appeared in The Olympian that was written by Mindy Chambers in support of Rossi’s campaign.

Concerns were raised that the quote’s portrayal — it is labeled “Mindy Chambers The Olympian” — implies that The Olympian or one of its reporters had endorsed Rossi for mayor. Chambers is a former editor and writer at the newspaper.

The flier also contains a quote from an Olympian editorial that praises Rossi. However, in that same editorial, the newspaper endorsed his opponent, Olympia City Councilwoman Cheryl Selby.

Otherwise, the flier contains no factual errors.

In an email to The Olympian, Rossi apologized for any confusion caused by the mailer.

“It was not our intention to mislead the public or to misrepresent any editorial positions of The Olympian,” Rossi wrote. “In the closing days before the election, we promise to clarify and correct the issue, and will encourage our supporters to do so also.”

Selby’s campaign has paid about $8,400 for mailers and related expenses, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. That amount approaches Rossi’s entire campaign fundraising total of about $9,200.

MONEY AND MAILERS

In the race for Olympia City Council position 2, Jessica Bateman and Judy Bardin have raised the most — and spent the most — among the city’s candidates.

Much of that money goes toward mailers, postage and printing services.

Bateman has raised $26,928 while Bardin has brought in $24,380, and both candidates have spent nearly all of it, according to the latest reports on the state PDC website.

Bateman has spent at least $11,000 for mailers and related costs, according to expense reports. One of those mailers is a glossy 8-inch-by-10-inch postcard that includes an ode to a classic TV show intro with “The Bateman Bunch,” which depicts the candidate at the center of a tic-tac-toe board with photos of supporters smiling at her from the surrounding squares. The mailer includes a brief list of campaign priorities and endorsements.

Another flier notes that Bateman works as a legislative aide in the state Legislature, but she has since changed employers and is now the community impact director for the United Way of Thurston County. Other than that, the flier lists a few of Bateman’s general campaign priorities.

Bardin’s online expense reports show nearly $17,000 in costs related to mailers, campaign literature and related costs. One flier lists Bardin’s top 10 reasons to vote for her. The number one reason listed: “On the city council, she’ll vote for you.” No factual errors were found in this flier.

Another flier focuses on Bardin’s list of promises to improve downtown Olympia, ranging from cleaning up trash and graffiti to requiring redevelopment or repair of run-down buildings. The flier includes a photo of people at the Artesian Commons park with a bold caption that says “We should not have to feel embarrassed or unsafe in our own downtown.” No factual errors were found.

PROPOSITION ONE

Olympia residents have received mailers in support of Proposition One, which asks voters to approve or reject the formation of a Metropolitan Park District. If it passes, the proposal is expected to raise $3 million in tax money for future park acquisition, development and maintenance.

A group called Yes Olympia Parks has sent a mailer that lists the basic goals and potential projects that would be funded by Proposition One. The group has raised $8,453 and has spent $7,669, according to the PDC. Many of the donors include local park advocacy groups such as the LBA Woods Park Coalition and Olympia Isthmus Park Association. One contributor is landscape architect Robert Droll, whom the city hired as a consultant last year for $60,000 to conduct a study of potential new park sites. Droll donated $1,000 toward Yes Olympia Parks.

The city also mailed a brochure “for information purposes only” that contains a list of frequently asked questions and facts about Proposition One. Another disclaimer reads that “this is not intended to support or oppose the proposition.” The total cost to print and mail the fliers was $8,660, according to the city.

THE OTHER COUNCIL RACE

Nathaniel Jones is quietly running unopposed for Olympia City Council position 3. Challenger Rafael Ruiz withdrew his candidacy in September, citing challenges in balancing work and family life.

Jones, the city’s mayor pro-tem, was first elected in 2011. He has raised $6,190 and has spent $4,990, according to the PDC. The campaign has not sent any mailers.

But his political goals may go beyond the city council. Jones announced earlier this month that he will form an exploratory committee to consider running for 22nd District state representative in 2016. Rep. Chris Reykdal has announced that he will run for Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016.

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 to one of 26 ballot drop boxes in the county by that day. More information is available at co.thurston.wa.us/auditor.

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