Yelm Mayor Ron Harding, new Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby of Olympia.
“Harding set the not-so-friendly tone” denigrating female officials at a
State of the Community address with 5 elected officeholders, January 13, 2016.
Photo credit: Steve Bloom, The Olympian
– The Harding Era is over.
The mayor is ending his tenure here as he began – without any public dialogue with his constituents and voters.
So, what now IS his legacy?
– Mayor Harding’s legacy will be in acquiring “things” for his own self-grandeur.
* Harding never invested in “hearing” his staff and citizens.
* He leaves unfilled vacancies in all city depts. that are woefully understaffed.
* No City Administrator for a year.
* The Public Works Dept. is in dire need of upgrades.
* The coming burden to taxpayers for sewage system refurbishments are monumental.
* Yelm’s water rates are at historic highs and likely to rise yet again.
* Public Safety requires more police officers on the payroll to be on patrol, now.
* Grow, grow, grow policies without up-keep of the infra-structure.
– The Olympian Editorial Board said of mayoral candidate Harding, running for his first term in 2005:
“Councilman Ron Harding is giving up his council seat to run for mayor.
As a fifth-generation Yelm resident who is active in the local chamber and community events, Harding sees the mayor’s job as the next logical step in his political career.”
“He sees himself as more favorable to growth than his opponent.”
“Where we find fault with Harding is his failure to stand up for citizens who want to speak to the council.
“Mayor Adam Rivas in effect issued a gag order against people talking about Wal-Mart at council sessions. And Harding was complicit in that censorship. He should have insisted his citizens be heard.”
– Harding leaves Yelm 2 1/2 years into his triumphant third term as mayor, without public explanation.
Mr. Harding left his Yelm offices the same way he arrived, without any opportunity for citizens to hear from him directly. His leaving was speculated to be for better pay, and rightly so, for the opportunity to better care for his family. Perhaps the voters choosing three new councilors last November who all ran on platforms of open government and transparency, decisively defeating incumbent city servants, was a contributing factor. Yelm changed while Harding and the bureaucrats aligned with him did not.
– Citizens are left wondering why their native son left town.
What does this say about the character of a man who leaves elective office mid-term without a word to those who voted for him three times, contributed to his campaigns and Mayor’s Fund, supported his policies for 11 1/2 years, and stood by his family for what he told The Olympian was five generations here?
– Harding did keep to his word on one thing: lack of open dialogue with his citizenry.
Harding told the Nisqually Valley News Editor in September 2005 he would not participate in their public Candidates Forum and vowed to never holding a Town Hall meeting with this community. The Olympian Editorial Board’s remarks in not endorsing his 2005 mayoral run is also the perfect epithet describing Mayor Ron Harding’s Yelm Legacy – “failure to stand up for [and hear his] citizens.”
– Best wishes to Mr. Harding in his new adventure.
“He views Aumsville as a fresh challenge,” quoting the Statesman Journal, part of the USA Today network in northern Oregon.