Tumwater mayor race has five good candidates

July 21st, 2009 by Ken

I attended the monthly meeting of the Tumwater  Area Chamber of Commerce this week and heard from the five candidates running to become mayor of the city and fill the shoes of the retiring Ralph Osgood.

From what I could tell, all five of those making a run at the seat have passion and conviction and most, if not all of them, would make a good mayor.

Incumbent Deputy Mayor Pete Kmet, pointed out that Tumwater has a strong mayor form of  government, unlike adjacent cities, and that the mayor has to have a good understanding of the issues in order to be a good manager.   Kmet listed his credentials and asked the Tumwater chamber members for their support.  He has drawn the endorsement of outgoing mayor Osgood

Incumbent Councilmember Joan Cathey told the business group that in the 164 years of Tumwater’s history, there had never been a woman mayor.   “That’s not why I’m running though,” she said.  “I’m running to be the leader for the change that is coming.”  Cathey talked about her career which included owning and operating a business, being a pastor for 25 years and managing the YWCA for 12 years.  “I have a broad-based background which gives me the ability to lead the change.”   Cathey also fed meat to the chamber group by saying, “Tumwater is no longer going to be the step child to any city.”

Incumbent Councilmember Neil McClanahan reminded the business group of his long service in the community as well as being the most decorated law-enforcement official in Thurston County.  McClanahan said he sees Tumwater becoming a partner with the other cities and the county in working together to bring business into the area.  One of his goals is the creation of a fish hatchery to Pioneer Park.  Working with the Squaxin tribe and Fish & Wildlife to do so.   He is endorsed byTumwater Councilmember Judi Hoefling.

One of the newcomers to politics is Dave Raatz (pronounced Rates).  He said that Tumwater needed change, and when he saw that three incumbent Tumwater councilmembers wanted to be mayor, then change would not be forthcoming.  He criticized the council for its major annexation last year and said that now they can’t pay for the services to that area.  “Growth doesn’t pay for growth,” he pointed out.  He also suggested that the city and the school district form a tighter bond and that the chamber should also become a partner with the school district.

The fifth candidate is also a newcomer to politics.  Justin Kover is a lifelong resident of Tumwater and talked about the unfairness in city policy.  He talked about how business after business is closing down, while the city subsidizes the Tumwater Valley Golf Course Restaurant.   Kover presented a plan by which the city can build a new Northend Fire Station without a tax increase.   He called for selling the Tumwater Valley Golf Course to a private firm, and pointed out that the golf course costs about $2 million to operate each year of which 45 percent or just less than half of the costs of operation are subsidized by the taxpayers.   “The $850,000 we save can be used to build a new fire station,” he said.

My personal observation is that any of the five would make a good mayor.  The weakest presentation at the chamber meeting came from Kmet who just listed his achievements and experience and never once talked about his views for the future of the city.

The biggest surprise was Raatz and Kovar, who both spoke well, made good presentations, and put themselves on par with the three incumbent candidates.

Posted in Business, Government, History, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

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