The Olympian’s endorsements for Olympia mayor and city council

Today we offer our endorsements in the Nov. 5 races for Olympia City Council. To learn more about the candidates in these races and more, consult The Olympian’s online voter guide where the candidates provide biographical information and answer questions in their own words, or listen to The Olympia Standard podcasts Olympian reporter Abby Spegman co-hosted, interviewing the Olympia candidates on a variety of topics.

Mayor: Nathaniel Jones and Cheryl Selby

Nathaniel Jones, who joined the city council in 2012 and served as mayor pro-tem for most of that tenure, is challenging incumbent Mayor Cheryl Selby. Jones has credentials in planning, facilities development, and public works. He says he is “motivated by frustration to bring change and new leadership,” and wants to address public safety concerns residents have raised, tackle issues associated with homelessness and housing affordability, and make sure the city uses its resources more effectively. He said he is only now proposing a flurry of programs to address homelessness because he hasn’t served on the relevant council committees, and was focused on other issues until recently.

Selby, a former downtown business owner, says she is running for re-election because she wants to see the projects the city has put in motion in the last 18 months come to fruition, and to adapt them as the city gains experience with what works to reduce homelessness. Her priorities are addressing “homelessness, climate change, and engaging the private sector to help address both those problems” because the city can’t do it alone. She said her experience as mayor and the relationships she has built throughout Thurston County make her the best candidate.

We endorse Selby because of her integrity, independent-mindedness, and extensive network of productive relationships that will serve the city well in these turbulent times.

Position 2: Jessica Bateman and Phyllis Booth

Jessica Bateman is completing her first term on the Olympia City Council. She led the successful 2018 Home Fund campaign, which provides $2.3 million each year to house people who are homeless; she wrote the Council’s Sanctuary City resolution; and actively supported the Missing Middle changes to encourage a wider variety of housing options and increase density. She previously served on the city’s Planning Commission, and on the non-profit GRuB board.

Phyllis Booth, her opponent, says she is coming “from the outside.” She volunteers at the Free Clinic, and is active in the Democratic Party as chair of Legislative District 22. She advocates for greater transparency and citizen involvement. She opposes the Missing Middle changes, which she believes open residential areas to outside investors. She says the city’s strategies to reduce homelessness are “playing bandaid.” Rather than building the Plum Street tiny house village, she thinks the city should have used empty buildings in a west side strip mall to shelter homeless people, and that it should buy houses in foreclosure, create KOA-style campgrounds with RVs and cabins, and teach people how to manage money.

We endorse Bateman’s re-election. She has been a productive and effective council member, and continues to grow as a community leader. She is a knowledgeable advocate for reducing homelessness, revitalizing downtown, and nurturing the partnerships that achieve results.

Position 3: Matt Goldenberg and Dani Madrone

It’s rare and refreshing to see competing candidates cooperate as collegially as Dani Madrone and Matt Goldenberg.

Goldenberg is a psychologist who also teaches a community college course on equity, and has experience working with homeless adults and youth and in treating trauma. He has just started a job in Adult Protective Services. His platform includes advocacy for racial and gender equality, better health and mental health care, addressing climate change. He believes his skills would help the council improve communications and redress the absence of representation of health care providers. He opposes sweeps of tent camps, and supports the creation of a tenants’ union.

Dani Madrone holds a master’s in Public Administration from The Evergreen State College and has been active in the Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team and other environmental groups. She co-hosts the Olympia Standard podcast, and works for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. She takes the long view on homelessness, arguing that the city’s next comprehensive plan update should replace values statements with specific numbers of housing units needed for various income groups. She wants the council to create plans for achieving zero carbon emissions by 2040. She wants clear guidelines on when to clear homeless camps.

Both Madrone and Goldenberg want better civic conversations and greater recognition of the value of diversity. Both also want deeper public understanding of the complex web of trauma, addiction and other afflictions that intersect with homelessness.

We endorse Dani Madrone because she has more experience in dealing with government and a broader array of strong relationships in the community. She is by nature upbeat, forward-thinking, and capable of working with people with whom she disagrees.