Homelessness headlines priorities for trio of candidates running for Olympia mayor

Olympia mayor August primary

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby isn’t running for re-election, which means come the August primary, voters will start narrowing down their options to replace her.

Olympia voters will choose between city councilmember Dontae Payne, former homeless outreach worker David Ross, and a woman who lived through homelessness, Desiree Chantal Toliver.

The race features two candidates of color, and the lack of an incumbent guarantees that Thurston County’s largest city will have new leadership. The one thing all three candidates have in common when they spoke to KIRO 7 – the issue of homelessness is at the top of their agenda.

“I would say the most pressing issue is homelessness and the lack of affordable housing development this is something that our community is very concerned about,” Payne said. “When I go to doors this is one of the questions that comes up from comm members what are you doing about homelessness.”

“I’m running really for three reasons, to see what we can do to end encampments to make our city safe and to really recover Olympia,” said Ross. “Those three things are urgently needed -- we’ve been sort of following a path of Olympia going over a cliff following some bigger cities.”

“I’m not just thinking about myself I actually want people who are in office to understand what it’s actually like to be house-less,” Toliver said. “I want an opportunity for everyone I want everyone to realize that I believe reps mayor, governor any of that jazz should be your advocate.”

All three candidates have their own levels of experience.

Dontae Payne has worked in Government and served in the Army. David Ross says his work with homeless outreach makes him qualified to navigate the homeless concerns in Olympia. Desiree Toliver has no political experience but feels that would be an asset.

The top two vote-getters will face off in November’s General Election.

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