A retired Air Force master sergeant in his second term on the Lacey Planning Commission announced Wednesday that he will challenge appointed Lacey City Council member Jeff Gadman in this year's election.
Raymond H. Payne Jr., a former administrative assistant to the director of the White House Situation Room and current communications assistant for the City of Olympia, said partisan politics have crept into Lacey government and that he would be an independent voice on the council.
“Politics can be nasty sometimes,” he said, “but I’m an independent thinker, and that’s the way it’s going to remain.” He also said he would not take money from political parties during the campaign.
Payne said government must stay true to its primary role of providing for public safety and adequate infrastructure, which he thinks creates economic growth.
If elected, Payne said he would start a group outside government made up of local leaders to discuss what the city can do to move forward. He also wants more direct engagement with citizens and would like to see the council stick to visioning and strategic planning, letting the city manager and staff handle all of the day-to-day implementation and process.
College Street is also near the top of his list, he said, adding that the traffic issues on the road require immediate attention and that widening the road or finding alternative modes of transportation should be on the table.
“We really have to roll up our sleeves and get that process moving,” he said.
Payne, 42, made the decision to run after discussing the pros and cons with his wife and three children during a trip to Portland last weekend.
Payne, who has lived in Lacey with his family since 2007, said he chose to run against Gadman because Gadman has the least experience on the council. He also said Gadman’s campaign seems focused on endorsements from “partisan elites.”
According to Gadman’s website, he’s been endorsed by 18 current or former elected officials, including several state representatives, two county commissioners, the county assessor and treasurer, and council members from Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater. Gadman, a commercial property appraiser for Thurston County, ran unsuccessfully for assessor as a Democrat last year.
Gadman firmly rejected the notion that he’s just out to get high profile endorsements, saying his endorsements cross party lines and that he’s committed to listening to the concerns of residents.
“I welcome the challenge and the opportunity to show the voters I’m a good choice,” Gadman said.
Payne enters the race about a month after Gadman announced he would seek a four-year term. During March, Gadman’s campaign raised more than $3,800, according to records from the Public Disclosure Commission.
Payne is the third person to enter the council race, joining Gadman and Lenny Greenstein, chairman of the Lacey Planning Commission, who has yet to announce which seat he will seek.
“It certainly adds to the equation, but I still haven’t made a decision,” Greenstein said. He is waiting to see whether incumbents Mayor Tom Nelson and Council member Jason Hearn decide to seek re-election. Nelson has already announced he will not seek appointment to the mayor position but didn’t rule out another council run.
Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/outsideoly