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Lakewood City Council election results – inevitable and miserable

Candidate statementsLakewood City Council has seven members, and this year, 2021, four of them were up for re-election. Not surprisingly, no one lost their seat.

Deputy mayor Jason Whalen easily beat off a challenge from Siabhon Ayuso, getting 75.28% of the vote. Michael Brandstetter did almost as well against Amelia Escobedo, getting 74.6%. Recently appointed council member Patti Belle did fantastically well against Ria Covington Johnson, getting close to 80%. Then there was Mary Moss, whose only opponents were write-ins.

It is depressing that no one bothered to stand against Mary Moss. I believe she’s a Democrat, in which case she’s a Democrat In Name Only (DINO). She’s utterly patronized by other members of the City Council, and she endorsed Republic Jason Whalen when he stood for Pierce Council in 2020. Though libertarians and progressives should take some solace in the fact that in 2018 she voted against Lakewood’s Ordinance 683, to prohibit the production, processing, and retail sale of marijuana.

So far, Patti Belle has been even less impressive than Mary Moss. In the Spring she was appointed to the Council, after John Simpson’s mid-term resignation. She works for the City of Kent, and she impressed Lakewood’s Council when she interviewed for the vacancy.

The Tacoma New Tribune endorsed Patti Belle, writing that she “could be a bridge between the accomplished old guard and a well-rounded new generation of leaders”. Do the Tribune‘s journalists ever visit City Council meetings? Patti Belle is a follower rather than a leader, who appears beholden to the people who appointed her. Having said that, Ria Covingdon Johnson ran a fairly invisible campaign and the result was never in question.

As for Siabhon Ayuso and Amelia Escobedo, we should credit them for being the almost lone voices of opposition to Lakewood’s monolithic council. At least until this summer, when the Garry oak scandal broke. However, their election campaigns left much to be desired.

In the August primaries, Siabhon Ayuso got 1503 votes compared to David Howarth’s 1170 votes. In some ways it is a shame that David Howard didn’t knock her out of the race. He had some progressive policies and he might have gained valuable political experience running a main challenge to Jason Whalen. And then Siabhon Ayuso, having got through the primary, largely disappeared. This underlines the fact that if you put yourself forward for election you have an obligation to your community to be 100% committed.

Amelia Escobedo ran a better campaign than Siabhon Ayuso, but her apparent advocacy of loud noise, in the Voters’ pamphlet, seemed unwise:

The third reason I am running is because our current City Council members are living in the “Foot Loose” ages. They do not allow night clubs, you are not allowed play loud music on Edgewater Park, and we are losing millions in tax revenue from lack of marijuana dispensaries.

If Amelia and Siabhon are going to stand again in 2023, they need to play to win. They both have strong connections with the community, and they understand that Lakewood is crying out for a vision, which includes both social and environmental justice. Amelia and Siabhon must now rise from their defeats, and start committing themselves to electoral victory.

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