Mayor of Olympia

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Candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the Aug. 6 primary ballot.

Phil Cornell’s name will appear on the ballot and voter’s pamphlet. Cornell announced earlier this month he had dropped out of the race.

Cheryl L. Selby

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Cheryl L. Selby Courtesy photo Cheryl L. Selby

Age: 58

Occupation: Elected Official

Have you run for public office before? If so, for what office?

Yes. I ran successfully for Olympia City Council in 2013 and for Mayor in 2015.

Please list any other experience you think is relevant to the position you are running for.

I was a City of Olympia employee over two time periods while raising my daughters. I ran a small retail business with two locations (one which was downtown) for 12 years. I’ve been involved as a volunteer with the Olympia School District in support of their bond and levy campaigns and have served on numerous non-profit boards in the community. I bring the unique perspective of public, private, non-profit and now elected experience to all my decision making.

Why are you running for this position?

I led this community as mayor through one of the most tumultuous political eras in recent history. Through it all, we made great strides in the areas of public safety, park land acquisition and creating a continuum to housing for our homeless populations. We’ve got more work to do on a regional basis and I have the working relationships to make that happen. After serving 6 years on council, I’m still energized by opportunities to bring together everyone in our city to find solutions that make Olympia stronger, more inclusive, and economically vibrant. Please visit electcherylselby.com for more information.

What are the top three issues you see facing the city?

No question in the short term, the biggest challenge we’re facing is homelessness and the systems that are making it a crisis. Olympia has made amazing progress in just the last year with creating numerous pathways to housing but we can’t take it to the scale necessary by ourselves. The work in my next term will be creating regional partnerships so we can impact the entire system and house more people.

The second issue is climate change and its impact on every level of our society. Olympia has a 30-year head start on most communities, but as new science develops, we know that the urgency is rising (along with the tides) with the need to adapt and mitigate the effects of global warming.

The third issue is wealth inequality and a lack of mid-income jobs. Developing a robust work force training system that includes the trades is key. We’re currently experiencing a severe housing shortage and some of that is due to a lack of skilled tradespeople. The continued attempts to gut the unions is shrinking our middle class into non-existence. This trend needs to be stopped and I’ll support that any chance I get.

Brenden Clerget

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Brenden Clerget Courtesy photo Brenden Clerget

Age: 31

Occupation: Business Analyst & Web Developer

Have you run for public office before? If so, for what office?

I have not, but I’m excited for this opportunity.

Please list any other experience you think is relevant to the position you are running for.

I have experience working with nonprofits and building relationships between public and private entities, as well as vast experience analyzing inefficiencies in processes to find the optimal solutions.

Why are you running for this position?

Olympia deserves better. There are various urgent issues facing the city, and we need fresh ideas to fix them. Inefficiencies in planning, a lack of foresight, and poor decision making has led the city down a path that will not get better without a change of direction. I plan to deliver that change and reunite our city. I was born and raised here, attended Olympia School District, and want to raise my family here. I have a responsibility to ensure our future generations have the chance to enjoy the clean, safe and beautiful Olympia which I enjoyed growing up.

What are the top three issues you see facing the city?

Homelessness, affordable housing, and public safety.

On homelessness, while I commend the efforts that have been made, I disagree with the execution and efficiency of the plans the city has moved forward with. Many citizens are unhappy, this is no secret. We need to leverage federal programs such as the Emergency Solutions Grant from HUD, which helps reduce the cost to the public related to housing development as well as homelessness. We must be sure we are doing everything in our power to be efficient in the spending of public tax dollars that our citizens and businesses generate.

We have a clear housing supply/demand imbalance; we simply don’t have enough units. That can be fixed by leveraging both granted dollars, our budget, and city-owned land, to incentivize the development of affordable housing. There needs to be concrete agreements with developers on the type of units that will be built if they are given incentives by the way of discounted land. This is even more important if they are receiving tax exemptions that end up being subsidized by our citizens.

There are multifaceted, complicated problems facing us, but they are completely fixable with some fresh ideas and direction.

David Ross

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David Ross Courtesy photo David Ross

Age: 49

Occupation: Trainer / Instructor

Have you run for public office before? If so, for what office?


Please list any other experience you think is relevant to the position you are running for.

I have lived in Olympia and watched it change and grow for nearly 50 years. I am a dad with a young child, a small business owner, and a community volunteer. I worked for 10 years in psychiatric social work, crisis intervention, and substance abuse treatment. Five of those years were as Thurston County’s Homeless Outreach case manager, providing direct services to mentally ill and chemically addicted homeless people.

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for office because because i know it is time to stop abandoning our downtown and giving Olympia over to lawlessness, chaos, and addiction. We need to save our city, and those who need our help. I want to see our downtown thrive for everyone and become the heart and soul of our community, as well as a wonderful housing center. I look forward to building bridges in the community, listening to our citizens, and motivating people to get involved with local issues. Special areas of passion and expertise are homelessness, substance abuse, urban planning, recreation, and community health.

What are the top three issues you see facing the city?

We must save our downtown and regenerate it. It is the key to all three of these issues. We need to get ahead of homelessness, compounded by substance abuse and mental illness. I have proposed the R.O.S.S. Plan (Recover Olympia and the South Sound) to address these issues in a comprehensive, compassionate, community-wide approach.

Affordable housing means we really need to build up, not out. We need to make it easier to build quality multifamily housing that people want. We also need to incentivize more affordable and subsidized housing. Additionally, we need to do whatever we can as a city to diversify our economy to bring more living wage jobs to Olympia.

Sustainable growth means making our downtown core clean, walkable, welcoming, and livable. Urban sprawl makes our infrastructure costs go up, along with carbon emissions, increases traffic, and kills our green spaces. We have to grow, but have to be smart and plan for 100 years from now, while making it something people can afford and enjoy today. If we make our urban core the gem it could be, people will want to live there and we can live more densely but with a high quality of life, while taking care of the environment.

David Ross served on The Olympian’s 2019 Board of Contributors but was asked to step down when he declared his candidacy.

Nathaniel Jones

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Nathaniel Jones Courtesy photo Nathaniel Jones

Age: 63

Occupation: Recently retired

Have you run for public office before? If so, for what office?

Elected to Olympia City Council 2011 and 2015

Please list any other experience you think is relevant to the position you are running for.

My graduate work was in Community and Regional Planning. My professional career has included leadership positions in public and non-profit agencies involved with community development, public transportation, and public facilities. I have recently retired from state service after managing the infrastructure of the State Capitol Campus for many years.

These experiences have provided the opportunity to work with local government at various levels: as a client, a funder, and as a partner. Now, with eight years of experience on the Olympia City Council, I am prepared for the position of Mayor.

Why are you running for this position?

Olympia has used piecemeal responses for major policy issues. It’s time for comprehensive answers to complex problems. We can manage growth, homelessness and housing affordability, while preserving neighborhoods and the dignity of all citizens. I will bridge divides and unite us in these efforts. I hope to strengthen Olympia’s relations with other local jurisdictions and community organizations for implementation of a shared agenda.

My work plan includes completion of the Transportation Master Plan, the Shoreline Management Plan, the Homeless Response Plan, the Climate Mitigation Plan, and launching a new Comprehensive Plan. These will be accomplished with improved citizen engagement.

What are the top three issues you see facing the city?

Olympians want a coherent response to the homeless emergency, which includes effective action, community collaboration, an obvious reduction of negative impacts to our downtown and our neighborhoods, and compassion for the individuals and families who are directly affected.

Local residents want our community to address housing costs and assure that people who work in Olympia can afford to live in Olympia.

I will advance a multi-pronged response to address housing affordability and homelessness, including:

  • Homeless prevention initiatives to keep residents in their homes.
  • Actions that promote home construction.
  • A housing-first approach for Olympia’s budget process.
  • Building a compact community, consistent with our Comprehensive Plan.
  • A living-wage policy for Olympia.
  • Support of local trades through educational and apprenticeship investments.
  • Expanded local health treatment services for behavioral health and substance-abuse concerns.

Our citizens want to be a part of the transition to the clean energy economy that creates good jobs, manages greenhouse gas pollution and provides benefits to the local economy. We can do this through building conservation, job training, and practical conversions to electrical power.

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