- Editor’s note: With the election season coming into focus for Yelm, I reached-out to mayoral candidates Joe DePinto and Denise Butler to ask them their views in the issues.
- Denise Butler did not respond.
- I thank Joe DePinto for his candor in response to this interview’s questions: ======================================================
Yelm Blogger’s interview with Joe DePinto for Mayor of Yelm
Yelm Blogger: Thank you for your time, Joe. You said this to Yelm Blog readers in July 2016 when you were up for consideration as Interim Mayor in the wake of Ron Harding resigning:
I honestly think my age is a good thing for our city which is growing at a rate that we haven’t kept up with. I can provide the leadership to get us out of the 20th century and fully integrate with the 21st. I will focus on improving our infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion and increase freight mobility, to increase our public safety by setting a goal of 2 officers on duty at all times, and to provide more transparency and access to your local government and will continue to provide leadership on bringing a YMCA into Yelm.
Are these your priorities today?
+ Joe DePinto: Absolutely they remain my priorities as my voting record and actions have shown on council and will continue on as Mayor.
Yelm Blogger: What changed if anything?
+ Joe DePinto: I’m 6 years older from when I first took office. Like anyone else my age there is a lot of growth that occurs in terms of my career, personal life, and experience gained on City Council. Now more than ever am I ready to take office and lead this city to a prosperous future. As Mayor, I will continue to work on all those issues but I am going to really focus these next 4 years to reduce traffic congestion and increase public safety. I feel if I can help reduce traffic and improve public safety, I will have made a meaningful contribution to the community that has given me so much throughout my life.
Yelm Blogger: Your youth and previous government experience in the state legislature has benefited our council and would be quite an asset to this community if you are elected mayor. Can you explain to blog readers the differences this experience will bring to local leadership?
+ Joe DePinto: I’ve worked at some of the highest levels of our Government including a Congressional Office, a State Legislative office, and with cities of all sizes. My past allows me to help guide Yelm into the future with knowledge of best practices, professionalism, and higher level of expectations that a growing city like Yelm needs and deserves. I plan to leverage my experience to obtain more State and Federal funding to provide a better quality of life here in Yelm at a minimal cost to the taxpayers.
The average age in Yelm is just shy of 30 years old, I’m 34. I think my youth will bring a fresh perspective into how our city is run and will align closer to the values of the people who live here. I am a populist candidate and take my role as a public servant very seriously. I am here to serve and represent the people, not rule them.
Yelm Blogger: You have spoken about an increase our public safety by setting a goal of 2 officers on duty at all times. How do you propose to accomplish this?
+ Joe DePinto: We aren’t too far away from making this a reality. Currently there are only a few hours at night when we don’t have 2 officers on duty. I intend to develop a plan with our Police Chief and budget out for new patrol officers. This won’t happen over night, but if we plan out years in advance and budget for the fiscal impact, we can achieve this.
Yelm Blogger: Bringing a YMCA to Yelm is something area residents want. How will this get accomplished if you are elected?
+ Joe DePinto: This was something I really tried to make happen and we got further than we ever had in the past. We were so close to making this a reality too but I just couldn’t do as much as I wanted in my capacity as a council member. As Mayor I will immediately reach out to the CEO of South Sound YMCA and set up a meeting with him and their board. I know they are still wanting to develop another branch in this direction but (from my understanding) they want to be able to service a lot of people from the Lacey area as well. That makes sense since Lacey is growing to become the largest city in Thurston County. I will do everything in my power to make a Yelm branch YMCA a reality and be transparent the entire process so the people know what’s going on with it.
Yelm Blogger: The Public Works Dept. requires a major upgrade. Continued growth here requires this vital infrastructure to be updated. How will you work to get applied grants? [Ed. note: This interview occurred prior to the interview with Public Services Director Colt here yesterday, who provided updated information.]
+ Joe DePinto: I think our current Public Works Director Cody Colt has done a tremendous job at creating efficiencies and saving the taxpayers of Yelm a lot of money, I will lean on him to do that some more. Besides finding cost savings and becoming more efficient, I intend to work with our Legislative leaders in Olympia to find funding in the State’s Capital Budget and work with our Congressional Delegation to get Federal funding, especially with COVID money currently being pumped into local governments with fairly vague descriptions on how that money needs to be spent.
Yelm Blogger: City staff turnover has been what I consider excessive and a cause for concern during Mayor Foster’s term (i.e. 4 Finance Directors, 3 new Planners under his watch). How will your experience be brought to city hall to engender a compatible, contented staff?
+ Joe DePinto: I think staff turnover is expected, especially when a new administration comes around, but I would have to agree that it has been excessive as of late. The first thing I am going to do as Mayor is meet with every single employee of Yelm. I want to know each of their perspectives on how our city is being run, what they think we are doing well and where we can improve. I hope to motivate our staff and encourage professional growth where we can. Having a high morale for city employees is important to me as its my belief that a happy workforce is a productive workforce.
Yelm Blogger: When you ran your 2016 council campaign and again for mayor in 2017 when Mayor Foster was your opponent, you said one of your top issues was, “To provide more transparency and access to local government. Where do you stand with improving/evolving transparency should you be elected?
+ Joe DePinto: To the current Mayor’s credit I think he has improved transparency during his term from where we used to be. He allowed for some things to occur that previously hadn’t been allowed and did hold a public town hall regarding food trucks. I intend to go further and make things much more transparent in terms of accessibility to the citizens such as updating the website to be more user friendly and have updates from Public Works on our social media pages that speaks to our current projects. The people of Yelm should know what I know as Mayor, because this is their government. Besides making things logistically easier to access, I plan to hold at least one town hall per year where folks can voice their thoughts and concerns on how their city is being ran. This isn’t an empty promise and I hope the Yelm Community Blog will hold me accountable should I fail to deliver on this campaign promise.
Blogger Klein is a supporter/contributor of DePinto for Mayor