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Nine Applicants Apply for Open Yelm City Council Seat

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By Daniel Warn / dan@yelmonline.com

Nine applicants vied to fill the Yelm City Council seat vacated by Tad Stillwell, the former mayor pro tempore, at a recent Yelm City Council meeting.

The council is set to choose someone to fill the seat in a special meeting on Tuesday, May 18.

The person selected will serve the remainder of Stillwell’s term after he recently moved outside of city limits and was no longer eligible to serve.

Here are some brief descriptions of the applicants, as many of them plan to run for the seat in the general election.

Holly Smith

Smith is an office manager whose priorities for Yelm are law enforcement, youth and infrastructure.

“I’ve seen a lot of change and growth in Yelm, some great, some maybe not so great,” Smith wrote in her application for the position. “I’ve always been interested in local politics and processes. As a supporter of many local businesses and talking with neighbors, etc., I would like to serve to be a voice for the people and to be a part of the continuing process of improving the city of Yelm for everyone.”

At the meeting, Smith said she intends to run for council in the general election, though she has not made a final decision on the matter.

“As far as credentials, I’ve lived in the city of Yelm for 25 years,” Smith detailed at the meeting. “I’ve done everything from Booster Clubs, garbage cleaning, Prairie Days, the jazz festival .. and I’m still active in the community through the Lions Club. I sit on their board and also through the state park outreach.”

Will Hutcheson

Hutcheson retired from the military. His priorities are to foster non-partisan discussion for community improvement, increase community safety, reach out to community outreach programs and maintain COVID-19-related compliance with the city, county and state.

In his application, Hutcheson said he wants “to help serve my community and … to expand openness of mind to the position. I am local to the area and have been involved in community politics for a few years.”

Hutcheson has led teams of 30 in the military for nine years, has two associates degrees in computer networking and X-ray technologies, and is an assistant elementary basketball coach.

“I like to listen to everybody,” he said at the meeting. “I listen to the community. I like to resolve issues in the community, and (put) them up the chain of command just like the military. You don’t always have to respect what the call is, but I trust the process.”

Hutcheson said he has no intention of running for council in the general election, but hasn’t closed the door to the possibility.

Joseph Richardson

Richardson is an associate pastor and a State Farm employee whose priorities for Yelm are to help the city flourish and grow, increase awareness of community volunteerism, plan well-managed activities, and support youth.

“I believe in community,” he wrote in his application. “I like where Yelm is headed and want to join in on furthering the progress.”

In the meeting, Richardson said he plans to run in the general election for the council seat.

“I’m involved in a really good community,” he said at the meeting. “I’m involved with people who actually care about the community. Sometimes I think about you guys serving on council and I don’t think you want to be there forever, but I think you choose to serve in that position because you’re afraid that somebody’s going to come in that doesn’t understand money (or) … don’t make good decisions.”

Steffen Burrey

Burrey was deemed ineligible for the position because she has not lived in Yelm City limits for one year.

Line Roy

Roy is the executive director of the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce whose priorities for Yelm are to promote sustainable growth in line with the city’s current infrastructure and resources. She plans to continually advocate for and promote Yelm as a business-friendly community, and promote beautification and culture in the downtown corridor.

“I’ve spent the last decade living in Yelm,” Roy wrote in her application. “In those 10 years, I have seen Yelm grow and change and Yelm has seen me grow and change with it. I love this city, and I want it to continue being a place I am proud to call home.”

At the meeting, Roy said she plans to run for an open council seat in the general election.

“Yelm is a vibrant city that offers a unique quality of life,” she said at the meeting. “As a council member, I will never forget that I serve all of the citizens of Yelm. I will listen to their opinions, and keep focused on what is right for our city.”

Kayla Russell

Russell is a stay-at-home mom whose priorities for Yelm are public safety, parks and roads.

“I am interested in serving the Yelm City Council because I have lived in the Yelm area my entire life,” Russell wrote in her application. “Currently, I am raising my children here and am truly invested in the community.”

In the meeting, she said she plans to run in the general election for a seat on the council.

“I love to see the growth of Yelm that we are experiencing here, while maintaining that hometown feel,” she said at the meeting. “That’s what I would like to see continue most.”

Jalane McAtee

McAtee is a registered nurse in psychiatric mental health and a nurse practitioner student whose priorities for Yelm are to work as a team with city officials in areas like public works, economic development and emergency services.

“I understand the importance of being part of a solution and not a problem; that is I want to see change. I must be willing to step up and turn my thoughts into actions,” McAtee wrote in her application. “My hope is that I will be able to learn from those around me as we work together to grow and invest in our city.”

In the meeting, she said she plans to run for an open council seat in the general election.

“I want my kids to know that the community and the trajectory you are on … that has such an impact,” she told the council members. “I want to be part of that.”

Brian Hess

Hess retired from the Army with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering whose priorities for Yelm are a balanced budget, well-managed growth and the development of business in the community.

“I am interested in serving on the council to continue being a voice for the residents of Yelm as well as business owners within the community,” Hess wrote in his application. “I look forward to continuing making the city a better community to live in as well as work in.”

He said in the meeting that he plans on running for an open council seat in the general election.

“One of my passions is politics and I like to see how governments work and how things operate, budgets and decisions making,” he said in the meeting. “I studied a lot of things that go along with Yelm. I have observed and I actually read the budgets once a year, right before you start voting on them. If I have a question about the budget, I start reaching out.”

Kelsee Dodson-Carter

Dodson-Carter is a barista whose priorities for Yelm are transparency between the city and its citizens, a fully functioning community center and to connect bridges with the Nisqually Indian Tribe.

“I grew up in Yelm,” she wrote in her application. “I am a Prairie Panther. I was taught by Mr. Bergh. I graduated from Yelm High School in 2008. I went to Central Washington University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in print journalism. I moved back to Yelm to raise my little sister who is also a YHS graduate.”

In the meeting she said she plans to run in the general election for an open council seat.

“I wanted to start out by saying that I want to serve on the Yelm City Council because everybody deserves a seat at the table,” she said in the meeting. “I feel compelled to use my voice to bring positive change into the world, and change starts at home and Yelm has always been home for me.”

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