The Tribune’s Olympia Election Guide

On November 2nd, Olympia residents will elect five people to their City Council.

In the successful candidates’ future: debate and discussion over issues the city has been wrestling with for years (that the COVID-19 pandemic has made even more acute): affordable housing, homelessness, racism, income inequality, struggling small businesses, communications, public perception of the city’s downtown, lack of mental health services, public safety and policing – the list goes on and on and on.

The 10 people running for the five seats up for election on Nov. 2 likely are the most diverse in the city’s history: Four of them are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). Seven of the 10 are making their first run for elective office (one of those was appointed to the seat in January and is running for election to retain it). 

All have run competitive campaigns. In all, they’ve raised almost $333,000 to date, a record for a council election in Olympia.

But if all you do is look at the glossy mailers, digital advertising, websites and social media sites, you may not learn a whole lot about what’s behind a candidate’s priorities and platitudes. The Olympia Tribune has asked them to explain what will drive their thinking and decisions if elected to the council. All questionnaires are accessible from our home page.

Council members earn $22,000 and a $3,800 benefit stipend per year and serve four-year terms. The council passes the annual city budget and appoints and directly oversees the city manager, who is in charge of day-to-day operations, including those of the Olympia Police Department. Members often find themselves working in excess of 40 hours a week to prepare for and attend weekly council and council committee meetings, serve on regional boards, and to hear from constituents. The candidates run for a position, but all races are non-partisan and all are elected “at-large,” meaning city residents may vote in all five races. 

The Tribune encourages you to vote! Who gets elected to the council really does matter – it’s where issues vitally important to our community are debated and decided. 

The Thurston County Auditor’s Elections Division has mailed more than 187,000 ballots. You may mail yours (no stamp required) or return it at one of the 29 secure ballot drop boxes available throughout the county. A list of locations and addresses is included in the mailed ballot materials and online at
Ballots must be postmarked by November 2. Please check mailboxes for pickup times to make sure your ballot will be postmarked by Election Day. If you miss your household’s mail pickup time, ballot drop boxes are open until 8 p.m. on Nov. 2. 
You can register to vote, get a replacement ballot, and/or vote using an accessibility voting device at the county’s Voting Center located at 2400 Evergreen Park Dr. SW, Olympia, WA 98502.  Drive-through voter services are available at this location. The center is open:

  • October 13 through November 1, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • On Election Day, Tuesday, November 2, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Any voter in line at the voting center at 8 p.m. on Election Day can vote. 

Assistance also is available at:

Lacey Timberland Library Voting Center (accessible voting device available): 500 College St. S.E., October 13 through November 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. November 2 
The Evergreen State College HUB: November 1, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. November 1; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. November 2. 

By Mindy Chambers

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