Olympia Council picks seven to interview for Bateman’s seat
By mid-January, the Olympia City Council will have a new member.
“I have never seen a more diverse pool, a more experienced pool,” said Council Member Jim Cooper, who with Council Member Dani Madrone and Mayor Cheryl Selby formed a subcommittee that has recommended seven people advance to the next round of interviews for a seat that comes open at the end of the year.
All of the council members spent hours scouring 28 applications before rating the candidates. The seven were chosen based on those scores.
While their diversity is notable, their priorities generally fall into three categories: homelessness and housing; public safety, and the environment and climate change.
The subcommittee recommended the following applicants for review by the full city council:
Kento Azegami, a seven-year Olympia resident who is the development director for Sidewalk, a nonprofit that works to help individuals experiencing homelessness find housing. His top priorities are homelessness, housing affordability, and making the city’s transportation system and neighborhoods more pedestrian-friendly. Azegami is on the city Planning Commission and is a former Downtown Neighborhood Association President.
Tracy Carlos, a 10-year resident who is a claims processor at the state Department of Labor and Industries. She is a board member for Partners in Prevention Education, which partners with houseless, street-dependent, and marginalized survivors to reduce harm and trauma. She was a founder of the state Rainbow Alliance and Inclusion Network (RAIN), an LQBTQ+ resource group. Her top issues are climate change, houselessness, and community division.
Holly Davies, a 16-year resident who is a state Health Department toxicologist. She chairs the city’s Heritage Commission, which advises the council on the use and preservation of historically significant buildings, districts, and objects in the city. Her three top priorities are housing/homelessness, public safety/police, and sustainability. She has been active in Olympians for People-Oriented Progress, a group that promotes land use that stimulates vibrant economies and creates sustainable, walkable communities.
Yen Huynh, a resident for nine years, who serves on the Olympia Planning Commission. She lists her top priorities as public health and safety, economic recovery, and climate justice. She is a supplier diversity program specialist for the state Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises and is a member of the Olympia Area Chinese Association and has experience in advocacy and equity work with historically marginalized communities.
Robbi Kesler, who is a six-year resident, and an attorney for the Washington State House of Representatives. She is an enrolled member of Skokomish Indian Tribe and former General Counsel for the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. Her top issues are putting in place a better system to hold council members accountable, entering a compact with area governments to address public health issues associated with existing encampments of homeless persons, and increasing the availability of affordable housing.
Dontae Payne, a five-year resident. He works in the Governor’s Office as a Regional Outreach Representative where he is the primary liaison between the Governor’s Office, local municipalities, tribal governments, community organizations, and the public on regional and statewide issues. His top issues are housing and homelessness, public safety, and the environment/climate change.
Maria Siguenza, an eight-and-a-half-year resident and the Executive Director of Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs. She is on the board of directors of Centro Integral Educativo Latino de Olympia (CIELO), an organization that serves the South Sound Latino community and serves on the state’s Poverty Reduction Workgroup. Her top issues are housing fairness and access, homelessness, economic development, and police accountability.
The full City Council will decide if it wants to accept the subcommittee’s recommended slate at a meeting beginning at noon on Tuesday, December 22. If it does, council members will interview the seven in early January and make the appointment in time for the Council’s annual goal-setting retreat January 8-9.
“Councilmembers have tentatively reserved Tuesday, January 5, 2021, and Wednesday, January 6, 2021, for applicant interviews. The appointee is expected to participate in the City Council’s annual goal-setting retreat on January 8-9, 2021.
The appointee will serve from the time of their appointment until the November 2021 General Election results are certified. To serve out the remainder of the Position #2 term, which ends December 31, 2023, the appointee will have to be elected to the position in the November 2021 General Election.”City of Olympia media release, December 18, 2020
All of the applications and the scoring may be found here. Click on the links in the attachments to download the (very large) pdf files.
The seat is open due to the resignation of Councilmember Jessica Bateman, who was elected to be the area’s State Representative in November and will begin serving in January.
If the appointee wants to continue to serve the full term, they will have to run for election to the seat in November 2021. It is going to be a very busy year in council elections with five seats up. To date, only Lisa Parshley has filed re-election paperwork. The other positions open are those held by Cooper, Clark Gilman and Renata Rollins.
“This has been a tense year on the council,” Madrone said in thanking all of those that applied. To those who did not make the cut, Selby said 2021 will present many other opportunities to serve, including a group that will be “reimagining public safety” and the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Council.
*Editor’s Note: Carlos and Payne are contributors to The Olympia Tribune.