In its formative years, the City of Lacey needed commercial growth to provide the revenues required to initiate and maintain myriad municipal services. Some might argue it accepted that growth at the expense of urban sprawl.
Development issues are back on the table in the 2013 general election for three seats on the City Council. Lacey has acquired a 30-year supply of water rights that could trigger substantial new development.
The city also surrounds several unincorporated areas that lack the full complement of municipal services, such as the Tanglewilde neighborhood, where some failing septic systems endanger water resources. The annexation of these islands, inevitable in the long run, is costly in the short term.
Incumbent Cynthia Pratt and challenger Michael Steadman are the best two candidates in their council races to address these and other important issues.
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Virgil Clarkson, the longest-serving member of the City Council, earned The Olympian’s endorsement by default. His challenger failed to show up for an interview with the board, even when given a second opportunity.
PRATT VS. PAYNE
In the race for Position 4, Ray Payne is a worthy candidate, but does not make a compelling case for unseating the thoughtful and effective incumbent, Cynthia Pratt.
Payne, a 21-year military veteran, has served five years on the Lacey planning commission, currently as its vice-chair. In his job in Olympia’s public works department, he has acquired knowledge of essential infrastructure around the county and built collaborative relationships with key players. His plans to engage Lacey’s large active and retired military community – starting with simple voter registration – are admirable.
Those are strong attributes that will someday land Payne a council seat. But not this year.
Pratt has a broader knowledge of land use issues acquired during her first term and in her former career as a state environmental planner. She’s a valuable source of information and leadership on growth management issues. Pratt balances her analytical mind with a practical side. Besides championing the protection of Woodland Creek, she pushed council to create a first-ever handbook of policies and procedures that improved government transparency.
We’re glad Payne serves on the city’s planning commission, but Pratt has earned a second term on the City Council.
LAWSON VS. STEADMAN
Incumbent Ron Lawson is completing an unremarkable first term that does not merit re-election. It’s time for a change.
Challenger Michael Steadman, a local business owner, is committed to making the City of Lacey a better place to raise his family. His experience on the city’s planning commission and his focus on Lacey’s key issues are reason enough to remove Lawson from office.
Besides being sometimes divisive on council, Lawson says his primary achievement in four years is starting a garden project for Boys and Girls Clubs. But that’s a community service project he could have accomplished as a citizen. It’s simply unrelated to council business.
Steadman tends to see the world in few shades of gray. He’s a former Marine with a get-it-done attitude. That attitude would help the council move forward on certain issues, such as annexation of the Tanglewilde area. The council has known about the water and sewer problem there for decades. Steadman would push for immedidate implementation of a 10-year plan.
CLARKSON VS. MORTON
Virgil Clarkson, who is seeking a fifth term, is by far the most experienced member of the Lacey City Council. Clarkson has been a stately representative of Lacey during his 16-year tenure, shepherding the city through periods of incredible growth. Clarkson offers stability and valuable institutional knowledge.
Walker Morton offers no challenge. His unresponsiveness to our editorial board is not an exception. Another key community leader with a significant stake in Lacey’s future has also been unable to contact the candidate. It’s not worth considering an elusive candidate with unknown views.