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Thurston County City of Olympia Mayor

Olympia's City Councilmembers are part-time City employees. They devote, on average, 15-25 hours per week to Council business. Some Councilmembers have full time business and employment careers in addition to their duties on the City Council. The terms are staggered, with positions ending for three members at one time and four members the next. Position 1 is designated as the Mayor's position. The Mayor is elected by the citizens to that position. In Olympia, the Mayor and Councilmembers have equal voting authority, with the Mayor voting on all issues as one of seven Councilmembers.

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    Nathaniel Jones

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    Cheryl L. Selby

Biographical Information

Why did you decide to run for this position?

What are three major management issues facing Olympia?

Of the three, which one is the most urgent?

What methods will you use to work successfully with the Council?

How do you view the future viability of the LOTT plant due to earthquake hazard and projected sea level rise?

How will you work with the Council to mitigate conflict over zoning codes, water supply and other issues?

How do you think Olympia could best respond to homelessness and affordable housing?

How do you think Olympia should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?

Phone (360) 754-1689
Town where you live Olympia
Experience (300 characters max) 7 years as Olympia’s Mayor Pro Tem Graduate work in Community and Regional Planning 5 years as non-profit Development Director 25 years developing local transit systems, including infrastructure construction 12 years managing the infrastructure of the state capitol campus as a DES employee.
Olympia needs effective partnerships to address homelessness, housing costs, and the impacts of climate disruption. We all want Olympia to be a safe and inviting place, where people who work in Olympia can afford to live in Olympia.

These are not new issues. These are issues that have not been adequately addressed. We deserve effective, collaborative leadership to address our shared concerns. Olympians know the challenges that are facing us and want to be part of the solution.

I am running for Mayor because Olympia deserves new direction that can tackle these concerns. And after two terms on the City Council, I am ready for the job. Olympians are proud of our hometown. We have much to be thankful for. We live in an exceptional place, with exceptional people, and I see a bright future for our community.
For Olympians, concerns about homelessness top any list of management issues. Three major components of the issue include: 1) In Thurston County, there more and more people, including many children, who have no address, and no sense of stability, 2) Some parts of downtown and greenbelt areas can feel uncomfortable, messy, and unsafe, and 3) Local governmental, non-profit, and faith-based organizations are stressed to adequately respond.
Everything about homelessness is complicated and there is urgency because 1) people are suffering, 2) there are collateral impacts on the community, and 3) our limited response resources are being threatened.

We will not be successful in addressing homelessness until we are able to reduce the number of people becoming homeless. In a time when rents are skyrocketing, eviction rates are up, and many people are living on the edge, the prevention of homelessness is our most cost effective and urgent need.

If we can keep Olympia residents in their homes and prevent new homelessness, we will have an opportunity to address those who are already in the woods or on the street.
Councilmembers are busy people, with many assignments, professional careers, and a strong need to stay in touch with the community. Respecting members’ time with well-structured process, agendas, and calendars is critical.

As important, is fostering and maintaining a collaborative and open relationship between all members. Each member carries a unique portfolio of assignments, connections, and experience. Recognizing each member’s strengths and respecting their contribution will help produce a working team.

Each councilmember was elected by our community and carries the responsibility of representing community interests. When working with members it is always valuable to recognize that they represent more than a singular perspective. They are charged with representing the community. Due recognition of their task and responsibility is central to a successful working relationship.
Olympians can take pride in our region’s commitment to effective and innovative wastewater solutions. Our existing gravity-flow system depends upon the low-elevation of the treatment plant. For the foreseeable future, engineered responses can address the threat of most earthquakes and sea level rise. However, these risks add to costs and complicate operations.

Wastewater treatment uses lots of water and lots of energy. Our discharge into Puget Sound must be regulated to protect the environment. And Olympia’s legacy stormwater systems are mixed with wastewater, putting enormous pressure on the system during storm and flood events.

We need continued innovation as we move forward to protect against seismic and sea level threats, and the other complications of our municipal wastewater system.
These policy areas, and all policy decisions of the Council, benefit from the Mayor and the other members actively working together to gain consensus. Because each Councilmember brings a unique set of constituencies and experience, each needs to be aware of the perspectives of other members and seek to craft policy that can achieve the largest majority possible.

The skill set for this work includes true listening and a commitment to collaboration, an open and creative mind, and focused curiosity about alternative approaches to shared objectives. It is worthy of mention that conflict can be very healthy. Conflict occurs when opposing views are able to voice their opinion. How conflict management and mitigation are handled is the single most important component of a high functioning organization. Healthy disagreements exist when Councilmembers are able to set aside the last point of conflict and begin fresh discussions about the next issue, without residual tensions.
Olympia has made the case that homelessness is a regional issue, that an effective response requires a community-wide effort, that the causes of homelessness extend beyond personal failures, and that an effective response requires adequate resources. These key understandings will help us as we move forward.

Olympia requires a more energetic response. Our community is frustrated that the problems of homelessness continue to expand. More than twelve months after declaring an emergency, actual outcomes are quite limited.

Looking forward, our best response includes adequate capacity at stabilization sites, regional collaboration and coordination, decentralized services, more re-housing options, more access to behavioral health, addiction, job training, and medical services, and broad community engagement.

Olympia needs to build more housing at every price point. Affordable housing needs are best viewed within the context our full housing inventory.
City services and regulations are intended to address the needs of local residents and visitors. It is not the City’s role to supplement the budgets or staffing of federal agencies. Matters of immigration status and documentation are not a local concern – we leave that to the agency with jurisdiction. The City of Olympia hopes to have a connection with all of our residents. Policies which drive groups of people into hiding due to a fear of deportation or separation are counter to community interests.
Phone (360) 970-6611
Town where you live Olympia
Experience (300 characters max) Please visit my website for a thorough list of my experience, platform positions and current endorsements. You'll find my campaign is supported by a broad and deep representation of our community, including every mayor in Thurston County.
I moved to Olympia from the Seattle area in 1994 because I wanted a smaller city with a strong public-school district and great recreational opportunities. I’ve worked at the City of Olympia over two time periods first in the Parks and Recreation Department and later as a program manager in probation services. As well, I’ve volunteered in the Olympia School District and served on numerous bond campaigns and local non-profit boards. In 2006 I made the leap into the private sector by opening a retail store. I was able to grow Vivala into two locations over 12 years and have carried on that energy by becoming a business coach. For 25 years I’ve dedicated my time and energy to enhancing the wonderful appeal our town holds for visitors while upholding the balance of livability for our residents. My time as your Mayor has been some of the most meaningful of my life and with your support, we’ll make Olympia a model for other state capitals in America.
Growth Management – Olympia’s projected to grow by 40% over the next 20 years. The state GMA requires that we plan for that growth. The council adopted 2014 comprehensive plan updates that plan for 25% of those new households be placed in downtown. That leave 75% of that growth to be placed in our urban growth area. Our community is struggling with growing pains so it’s crucial that we plan on how to keep our neighborhood character while accepting sensitive infill development. Homelessness – We’re making great strides in addressing our homeless crisis but are struggling to get our programs up to the scale needed. I’m working regionally to encourage public, private and non-profit partnerships to tackle this humanitarian crisis. Climate Action – Olympia is a leader in our work on sea level rise planning, climate adaptation and mitigation. Again, it will take regional partnerships to accomplish the necessary targets to save our planet. That planning is currently underway.
Climate Action is the most urgent, but as a jurisdiction, homelessness is the most visible and what we hear about the most from our constituents. Olympia is a leader in trying innovative approaches to deal with the systemic breakdowns that have caused the rise in our unhoused community. Our voters approved two ballot measures that were designed to deal with not only the downstream effects but the upstream causes of homelessness. The Public Safety Levy and the Home Fund now provide dedicated revenue streams that provide a continuum of care from street level outreach to permanent supportive housing. The next steps will require regional coordination and funding to take these programs to the scale.
I was elected to council in 2013 and ran successfully for mayor in 2015. In my 5 ½ years working on council I’ve used a collaborative approach to reach consensus on the issues that are most important to our community. It’s not always easy and it’s not always pretty, but I’m proud of how we’ve pulled together when it really mattered. I attribute that to being able to share the credit and to letting people run in their lanes. As a mayor, you have to wear many hats across a diverse community. I believe my council trusts me to put the best interest of our community first.
The recent Sea Level Rise adaptation plan addresses these issues in detail. The most recent cost projections still favor armoring our downtown against SLR vs. retreating and replacing the existing infrastructure. The LOTT plant is one of the most expensive operations to re-locate, even if we could find the land. Preparing for a catastrophic earthquake is daunting, but we have a consortium of agencies working on that currently. All of our systems will be affected, not just our water. That’s why individuals need to take responsibility to plan for at least 2 weeks with out services of any kind.
The city staff are currently working on innovative outreach programs to engage our community in topics such as budgeting priorities, homelessness responses, growth adaptation, emergency responses, etc. Our website is now a wealth of knowledge and easier to navigate than ever. Our communications department has been using the most cutting edge outreach tools available including all forms of social media and survey tools. I encourage everyone to check us out at
I believe I covered this question above but also encourage residents to check out the homelessness page on our website and sign up for our e-newsletter. You can also sign up for “engage Olympia” which is a survey tool we use to take the temperature of Olympians on a host of issues.
Olympia has always been a sanctuary for immigrants. We made it official after the recent federal administration was installed. We declared ourselves a “Sanctuary City” and signed on to the “Charter of Compassion.” As a city, we won’t deny services to anyone based on their immigration status. Nor do we allow our public safety department to support federal immigration officers.