Ordinance spurs council candidates

OLYMPIA - Both Meta Hogan and Dave Seavey said the pedestrian interference ordinance and the resulting debate about downtown persuaded them to announce Monday they're running for City Council.

But they're on different sides of the ordinance.

Hogan is a 27-year-old homeless advocate who runs the women's shelter for the Bread & Roses Advocacy Center and opposes the pedestrian interference ordinance. "I think it's a Band-Aid, and I think it doesn't do very much," she said.

Seavey is a 49-year-old fleet operations supervisor for the city of Olympia. He favors the ordinance, but said the debate leading up to it lacked "the ability to listen to the other side, the ability to overcome obstacles and compromise," he said. He said he could do better.

There are now six candidates vying for two council positions coming up for re-election this year - Hogan, Seavey, South Capitol Neighborhood Association President Jeanne Marie Thomas, Thurston County Planning Commissioners Rhenda Strub and Craig Ottavelli, and Olympia Planning Commissioner Amy Tousley.

They're seeking the seats of Council members Laura Ware and TJ Johnson. Johnson has announced he won't run again, and Ware said she will - but she's not sure whether it will be for council or mayor.

Mayor Mark Foutch, whose seat also is up, says he will not run again, and so far only Councilman Doug Mah has announced he'll run for mayor.

In effect Thursday

The pedestrian interference ordinance, which goes into effect Thursday, will make it illegal to sit, lie down, sell things or ask for money within 6 feet of a building downtown, with some exceptions. Sitting and lying down will be allowed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and street performers will be permitted in designated areas.

Both candidates said the ordinance was a catalyst for them to run for council, but there were other reasons.

"I don't know a lot of the people who are thinking about running, so I'm not fully convinced we're going to have a solid council," Hogan said.

She said her experience in helping homeless people gives her a different perspective. She favors more downtown housing, and favors a plan that would mix housing and retail with social services. More community gathering places, such as little parks, could also help give homeless more places to go.

"I definitely have a different perspective on the city having looked at it through the homeless community," she said.

Hogan favors raising taxes to keep current services. City leaders have warned that voters will have to authorize more taxes or the city will have to cut services next year.

Seavey, who has served in the U.S. Navy and now manages Olympia's vehicle fleet, stresses his leadership skills.

"My role in management is to get things done," he said. "I look at problems. I look at all sides of it. We work together to get solutions."

He said he learned the art of compromise when he first came to Olympia aboard the controversial USS Olympia submarine.

Seavey said he talked to people who protested having a nuclear submarine in the city, and though he disagreed, he listened.

He favors putting a tax increase to voters, but he also wants to re-evaluate city services to see whether some could be combined.

His main issues are bringing downtown housing, reducing emissions, adding a fourth fire station and strengthening relationships with state legislators.

As manager of the vehicle fleet, he helped convert vehicles to biodiesel and cut emissions to the level they were at in 1993.

Seavey's immediate focus: adding more parking to downtown to build business.

"Attracting new business to increase revenues is important to this city, but until we stop talking about things like downtown parking and housing … get these things done … we're not going to turn that tide," he said.

Matt Batcheldor covers the city of Olympia for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-704-6869 or mbatcheldor@theolympian.com.