Record-breaking number of applicants vie for Olympia City Council opening

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An “unprecedented” number of people applied for a spot on the Olympia City Council to replace Mayor Pro Tem Jessica Bateman, who was elected to the State House of Representatives in November.

Bateman, council member for Olympia’s second district, held the position since 2015. Her term was set to last until December 2021.  Her win at the state level means she will vacate the seat in January.

The council formed a subcommittee to field applicants for the position. The subcommittee consists of Mayor Cheryl Selby and council members Dani Madrone and Jim Cooper. They met this morning and picked seven of the 28 applicants to recommend to the city council.

The City Council will hold a special meeting at noon on Tuesday, where they will vote to accept the recommended list. From there, council members will form a list of questions for the seven applicants. Interviews are scheduled for January.

Whoever is selected will immediately become the new council member for Olympia’s second district, a role they will hold until the 2021 election, where they will have the chance to run for a full four-year term.

For the past week, council members have had access to the list of applicants. Each council person — excluding Bateman — recommended eight candidates they were most interested in interviewing for the position. Of the 28 applicants, seven stood out as the clear favorites, said Cooper.

They were: Yen Huynh (six recommendations), Robbi Kesler (six recommendations), Dontae Payne (six recommendations), Tracey Carlos (five recommendations), Kento Azegami (four recommendations), Holly Davies (four recommendations) and Maria Siguenza (four recommendations).

Applications submitted for each candidate are available to read online at: https://olympia.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=827740&GUID=446499D8-3555-474B-AF3F-510C5DC288FF

“I’ve been watching city council appointments for a lot of my life, and I’ve never seen a more diverse candidate pool,” said Cooper.

Selby said the sheer number of applicants for the spot was unprecedented.

Madrone noted that although only one person from the list will get the spot, early 2021 will be rife with openings in various government commissions.

“It has been such an intense year on council, and it just filled me with so much joy to see so many awesome people applying. And I just want to remind people that there’s an election coming up next year,” said Madrone.

Five council positions are up for election in 2021. The only positions that aren’t up are positions 1 and 3, held by Selby and Madrone.

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