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A breath of fresh air rolled into Yelm last night –
JW Foster sworn-in as Interim Yelm Mayor

Interim Mayor JW Foster
Photo credit: City of Yelm

– August 9th Yelm City Council results:
* Council members arrived from Yelm’s Community Center just feting outgoing Mayor Ron Harding.
* Tad Stillwell motioned to remove Ron Harding’s Agenda of an Executive Session.
* JW Foster seconded the removal of the Executive Session to discuss mayoral candidates.
* JW Foster and no others were nominated as Interim Mayor.
* JW Foster received 4 votes, affirming him as Interim Mayor.
* Councilors Carmody, Stillwell, DePinto abstained from approving JW Foster as Interim Mayor.
* JW Foster was sworn-in, took Mayor’s seat to conduct the Council session.

– JW Foster was sworn-in as Interim Mayor yesterday
One hour after Mayor Harding officially left office (5pm), following an invitation-only ceremony with public officials and community leaders at the Yelm Community Center, the troupe crossed the street to enter the council chambers for the City Council meeting (6pm). I arrived in the council Chambers early at 5:40pm to sit and observe, after greeting Interim City Administrator Bill Brandon. A jovial Councilor JW Foster was present consulting Clerk Janine Schlempf, with Councilor Hendrickson seated. Once I sat down, Foster approached me to shake my hand and thank me for coming, a very appropriate and nice way to begin what I knew was to become his tenure.

– JW Foster only person nominated as Interim Mayor, 3 of 4 Councilors abstained
While JW Foster was the only person nominated as Interim Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem Tracey Wood conducted the vote. The results demonstrated a divided Council with the three new councilors (Carmody, Stillwell, DePinto) who all defeated Harding-era incumbent public officials last Fall on platforms of open government, transparency and following public process, all abstaining of what has been labeled by others as ‘The Old Guard,’ those 4 all voted in-line for Foster.

– Councilors Carmody & DePinto CLEARLY explained their abstentions
In what was the largest group of visitors I can recall in quite some time to a Yelm Council session, many raising their issues with lack of public process, Councilor Carmody gave a cogent explanation on her abstention vote during the Councilor Reports, listing RCW requirements, the 90 days the RCW allows councils to select an Interim Mayor, and her disapproval of the lack of public involvement. Carmody’s assessment was nothing short of brilliant! She also duly congratulated Interim Mayor Foster and provided support.

Councilor DePinto echoed Councilor Carmody’s stand saying on Facebook:
“At tonight’s City Council meeting, Council member Foster was appointed Interim Mayor with 4 votes out of 7. Councilmembers Carmody, Stillwell and myself choose to abstain from the vote. We all shared similar reasons, but I won’t speak for them.

I choose to abstain because of the lack of transparency and public involvement in the selection process. The majority of the council wanted to immediately select an Interim Mayor and do so within an hour of Mayor Harding’s resignation. Washington State law allows up to 90 days. I felt it would be prudent to take more time and publicly interview candidates and hear from Yelm residents in an open meeting.”

“That being said, I feel Interim Mayor Foster is quite capable and will do fine in his new role. I gave my word that I would help support him and I will. During my report tonight I told him that I would support him and provide guidance from my experience and knowledge at the State Legislature. I hope you support him as you have supported me.”

– A breath of fresh air rolled into Council Chambers yesterday
The place was packed, standing-room only, which Interim Mayor Foster acknowledged, closing the session by welcoming the large public turnout and to join him at the Council in the future. Many in the audience expressed their displeasure with lack of public process, so to hear Foster being inclusive of the public WAS a breath of fresh air. Even Councilor Isom, normally bristling at change that doesn’t go his way, took responsibility for his previous misunderstanding and “no” vote on the YMCA-proposal contract, leading the approval motion this time. Kudos to him for transparency!

– Interim Mayor Foster needs our community support – this blogger stands behind him
Mayor Foster inherits many issues from Mr. Harding’s “reign” that need our support to address, yet not limited to:
* Mending tarnished relationships with city staff and town citizens.
* Unfilled vacancies in all city departments woefully understaffed.
* No City Administrator for a year and counting.
* A retiring City Clerk this Fall.
* An open position for Public Works Mgr.
* The Public Works Dept. in dire need of upgrades.
* The coming burden to taxpayers for sewage system refurbishments that are monumental.
* Yelm’s water rates are at historic highs and likely to rise yet again.
* Public Safety requires more police officers on patrol, though 1 was approved last night.
* Grow, grow, grow policies without up-keep of the infra-structure.

– Foster’s Council seat Position 1 is now open for city of Yelm electors to apply
Council seat Position 1 is open-to-the-public for Yelm electors to apply for a 2 week period beginning today.
Foster said, “I intend to be very open and listen to everybody’s concerns.”

AS I TOLD HIM, I WELCOME FOSTER IN “FOSTERING” TRANSPARENCY, OPEN GOVERNMENT, AND PUBLIC PROCESS. This blogger will stand with Mayor Foster as long as he follows this as his position!

– UPDATE: August 10, 2016, 1:12pm
From Lisa Pemberton, The Olympian.
Read more

Posted by Steve on August 10, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink

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