OLYMPIA - A Department of General Administration manager announced Wednesday that he will run for the Olympia City Council against incumbent Rhenda Strub. Nathaniel Jones, 55, is a senior planning and asset manager with GA, managing several office buildings, including the old Capitol.
His top priorities are a “safe and welcoming downtown for all,” supporting small businesses, strengthening neighborhoods and “building good relations with Olympia’s neighbors,” according to a campaign statement.
“I think Olympia is unique and is a gem that needs to be cared for and appreciated,” he said in an interview.
Jones said he favors bringing back the Olympia police downtown walking patrol, which fell victim to budget cuts. He also said the city must deal with derelict buildings downtown.
“I think the city has a role to play,” he said, but declined to offer specifics.
He also favors a “buy-local” policy for city government.
And he said neighborhood associations should have more of a say in city government, citing other cities where neighborhood leaders help set city priorities. Jones is seeking council Position No. 3, which Strub holds.
“I didn’t get involved in this to run against Rhenda Strub,” he said.
But he said he picked the seat, rather than two other seats up for grabs this fall, because “I found that there is a strong contrast between Rhenda and myself.”
For example, he mentions Strub’s 2008 vote to allow taller buildings on the downtown isthmus, which she later voted with the council to reverse after strong community opposition.
“From my perspective, Rhenda has not represented the community, the citizens, and so I see that as an opportunity for me to present that contrast and let the voters decide.”
He said he’s not trying to revisit the isthmus issue, but that he and Strub have differing styles in dealing with the public.
He also criticized Strub’s role in a council vote to ban overnight parking of recreational vehicles on city streets in 2008.
Business leaders requested the city do something about a number of trailers that stayed parked on downtown streets; homeless residents were upset about it. Strub favored the ordinance but proposed delaying its implementation to find places for the homeless campers to stay.
Jones has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion from Doane College in Crete, Neb.
He settled in Olympia 20 years ago. In his GA role , he staffed the committee that studied turning Capitol Lake into an estuary.
Jones said his experience in community, land-use and transit planning can give the council expertise that it doesn’t have now.
“We live in an exceptional city,” he said. “We are generally educated and engaged.”