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No woman would vote for J.W. Foster if they knew – A reminder why he should not be elected to the County Commission!

Yelm Mayor JW Foster Won't Seek Another Term | Nisqually Valley News
Photo: [Former] Yelm Mayor JW Foster in the city’s council chambers.
Credit: NVN

  • Editor’s note: This is the 2nd in a series of factual stories on J. W. Foster’s lack of leadership as a councilor and mayor of Yelm.
  • Rather than just casting your ballot for Foster due to name recognition, be an informed voter.
  • Mayor J. W. Foster violated his oath of office to serve in the public’s interest by not following the Yelm Municipal Code (YMC) and the union’s demands to put City Administrator Michael Graham on Administrative leave and to conduct a thorough, independent investigation for which city staff could be confident, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
  • The toxic work environment created led to many good staff members leaving city employment.
  • Foster did little to mitigate the issues and kept Graham working until the end of his term, when Graham resigned from the city as Yelm’s new Mayor DePinto was set to be sworn in.
  • Mr. Foster is invited to respond to this blog post at any time, though he never has previously.
  • Click here to read more.

The following was published on this blog September 18, 2021

Union asks Mayor Foster investigate allegations against City Admin. Grayum

+ Mayor Foster and the Yelm City Council received a formal, written request Friday afternoon [September 17, 2021] from Hannah Hollander, Staff Representative for the Washington State Council of County and City Employees (Council 2, AFSCME, AFL-CIO), requesting the mayor initiate “a third-party investigation into several claims of sexual harassment and discrimination by an employee in executive leadership.”

+ Ms. Hollander identified that employee as City Administrator Michael Grayum.

+ Hollander added, “This is a very serious situation and we sincerely hope to have your support in prioritizing this request.”

+ Ms. Hollander also wrote a letter specifically to Mayor Foster and said: “The Union hereby requests that the City of Yelm conduct a through and legitimate investigation by utilizing an outside consultant. Due to the seriousness of the allegations, and that not enough was done to address the situation, we feel the need to let more people at the City know what has been going on so that the complaints can be thoroughly and promptly investigated and that we can be assured that prompt and effective action is being taken to eliminate further sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.”

+ The letter to Mayor Foster noted the Union is “now hearing reports that several women feel they were being discriminated against by Mr. Grayum, that they felt they were being harassed and working under a Hostile Work Environment.

  • Editor’s note: The Union clearly wants this situation to be fully publicized, so that Mayor Foster takes appropriate and immediate action, rather continuing his perfunctory attention to such a serious matter.

Click here for page one of the Union’s letter to Mayor Foster,

Click here for page two.


  • Mayor Foster should convene an emergency city council session as soon as possible, since the council does not meet again until September 28th. Mr. Grayum needs to be placed on Administrative Leave immediately and until a third party investigation has been completed. Foster will need to appoint an interim city administrator. This requires full transparency to maintain public confidence in the city’s functions with the impending mayoral change at year’s end. No Executive Sessions behind closed doors! Full disclosure is required, as nothing less is acceptable for public trust!
  • With the Staff Representative for the Washington State Council of County and City Employees sending this request, this IS indeed very serious, and demands full accountability.
  • This may be the most challenging situation Foster will have to address as mayor, and one that has the potential to leave a lasting impact on his legacy, based on how he addresses this situation.


+ A previous executive leader (Finance Director Joe Wolfe) was placed on Administrative Leave when City Administrator Michael Grayum informed the city council on May 14, 2019, that he had become the acting Finance Director, with no reason to the public then provided, as reported on this blog. The independent investigation was inconclusive. Wolfe was suggested to leave city employment prior to the investigation being completed.

+ Losing the daily responsibilities of the city administrator during an investigation is detrimental to city operations.

+ The Mayor and city council should consider hiring a public relations firm to handle a coming media barrage. The last major crisis for the city occurred in 2004, when the council banned the public from mentioning the words “Big Box Stores” or Wal-Mart” in their meetings, bringing worldwide media attention and the ACLU to town. Mayor Adam Rivas did not have the experience necessary to properly handle the media, which became a public relations disaster.

+ This is a very vulnerable time for city management, with recent realignments of departments and an excessive turnover in staff, as reported on this blog May 11, 2021.

Posted by Steve on July 10, 2024 at 12:31 am | Permalink

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