Jessica Bateman and Judy Bardin are running for the lone contested seat on the Olympia City Council this fall, and they have many shared goals.
Each has a record of public service. Both served on the city Planning Commission, have worked for state government and are well-educated.
Both support a $15 minimum wage for city businesses. They favor body cameras for police, increased walking patrols downtown, more mixed-use development downtown, and the property tax measure on the Nov. 3 ballot that would generate money to maintain parks and buy land for new parks.
Bateman strikes us as a more engaged candidate with a nimbler understanding of a broader range of issues and a keener grasp of the political process. Bateman also has a better grasp on how to meet the city’s challenge to improve a business climate in a downtown with a troubling cadre of homeless people.
One other council seat is on the Nov. 3 ballot. But incumbent Nathaniel Jones’ challenger, Rafael Ruiz, withdrew after the primary election, Ruiz was part of the Olympia for All slate that advocates a $15 minimum wage and gave that issue a higher profile.
Bateman said police walking patrols are a first step in dealing with public concerns about personal safety, and that state legislative help is needed to address the needs of chronically mentally ill people who live on the street.
She thinks a day center with social, mental health and housing services for people on the street could help. She noted the recent announcement by the Providence medical group that it plans to open such a center downtown.
A former legislative aide and city employee, Bateman has a master’s degree from The Evergreen State College and recently took a job with United Way. She is plugged in to the social services networks that can help the city as it tries to find long-term answers to its homelessness problem. She supports efforts to bring more middle-class residents into the city core.
Bardin earned a doctorate in epidemiology and recently retired from a career working in the field of environmental health at the Department of Health. As a veteran of the bureaucracy and advocate of government transparency and environmental health protections, she said she sees the need for more “plain talk” about city actions, such as zoning proposals, that make it easier for the public to understand.
Like Bateman, Bardin brings a concern about healthy communities and ways to foster them through design of walkable areas, setbacks of housing from highways and preserving views.
Bardin also has the courage of her convictions, and that counts for a lot in a city where group-think is always a hazard.
For instance, the Washington Coalition for Open Government recognized Bardin for being willing to blow the whistle when she believed members of the Planning Commission were meeting improperly with a local developer at a time when that developer had business before the commission, even though that business was not discussed.
On the other hand, Bardin invited suspicion with her insistence that she did not need to hand over emails to the city attorney in response to a records request because she deemed them “private” — with no other explanation of what made them so.
Both candidates are qualified. We favor Bateman as the more energetic, creative and savvy candidate, and believe she may grow to be an important leader in our community.