Eight candidates vie for vacant Tumwater City Council seat

The council plans to interview all of them this Saturday -- and you can watch online


Eight candidates have tossed their hat in the ring for Tumwater City Council’s vacant position 2 seat — and all of the candidates are scheduled to have their say during a special public meeting this Saturday, March 20.

The seat has been empty since former Councilperson Tom Oliva announced he would be stepping down. His last day was Feb. 17. Whoever takes his place will serve in the role until the November general election, and at that point they’ll have the option to campaign for a full term.

Many of the candidates, in their applications, noted they intended to run for the position in November regardless of the outcome.

The council members are scheduled to appoint the new councilperson next Tuesday, March 23, during a special public meeting. According to state law, the city council has 90 days to fill the position, and if the process exceeds that timeframe, county officials would then be tasked with appointing the new member.

The candidates are:

  1. Michael Arnold, a software architect for the Department of Revenue with years of experience at Microsoft.
  2. Rebecca Faust, a Tumwater resident who touted her experience testifying to state legislative committees and her filing of a lawsuit against Gov. Jay Inslee and other state officials for mandated shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Joel Hansen, a CapStone Solar employee with experience in strategic planning and relationship management.
  4. Angela Jefferson, a Tumwater Planning Commission member and retired U.S. Army major.
  5. Nam Nguyen, a Tumwater Planning Commission member and assistant attorney general for the state.
  6. Elizabeth Robbins, chair of the Tumwater Planning Commission and former manager of planning policy and partnerships with the Washington State Department of Transportation.
  7. Alex Rossiter, vice chair of the Tumwater Preservation Commission.
  8. Rob Warner, lead pastor of Foursquare Church who’s served on the board of multiple non-profit organizations.

On Saturday, the city council plans to interview each of the eight who applied for the position. During yesterday’s council meeting, there was some discussion of whether to whittle the candidates down based on their applications, and only interview the top candidates. However, a majority of the council decided to instead speak with each.

“I don’t want to eliminate anybody from what I read on a piece of paper, I want to be able to meet all of these individuals,” said Council Member Debbie Sullivan.

The only council member who advocated for whittling down the list of candidates was Mayor Pro Tem Joan Cathey, saying they know what qualities they’re looking for in a council member, and they can pick their top candidates from the applications alone.

“We’re all geared into what it takes to be on a council, and it’s clear by reading on a piece of paper that there are some people who just aren’t ready for that yet,” Cathey said.

The council members are loosely planning on each candidate to take about 45 minutes. That means the process will take the bulk of the day. There will be a lunch break and some shorter breaks interspersed. The candidates will be asked a series of pre-written questions that they’ve had a chance to see beforehand.

Mayor Pete Kmet said he’s happy to see the number of candidates they’ve received for the position.

“It usually ends up being a tough decision in the end, so I’m just glad we got eight people interested. You know, I think that that speaks a lot to our community and interest that people have,” said Kmet.

The meeting will start at 10 a.m. Saturday. Anyone interested in attending virtually can find a Zoom link — and other live streaming options — on the Tumwater City Council webpage


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