Chehalis will have a fairly mellow election cycle this year with only one contested race for city council out of three seats up for election.
Mayor Dennis Dawes is being challenged for his at-large council seat by M & K Store owner Jerry Lord. Incumbents Robert Spahr and Chad Taylor are running unopposed.
“I think the reason why there are not many challengers is because people we represent think we are doing a good job,” Taylor said.
That sentiment was echoed by Spahr.
“I hope the interpretation is because we are doing a good job,” he said.
Each person is guaranteed his or her seat for four years, Dawes noted.
Dawes normally files on the first day of filing week, but said he didn’t this year because he was out of town. He filed Friday afternoon. Lord — his challenger — filed on Wednesday afternoon. Dawes said he did not know if his being out of town was a factor on why his race is contested.
Before Lord became a business owner, he said he was like the majority of people not participating in government because it didn’t affect him. However, as a business owner, he now sees the community differently and knows how governmental action affects him, his business and those around him. On the whole, he has become more involved — not just in government but with people in the community.
“I talk to them all,” Lord said. “All the homeless people know my name.”
When friends saw he had not filed, Dawes said several people called him to ask why and to see if he was running.
“That is always nice,” Dawes said, “when you get a bunch of calls asking you to keep serving.”
Lord said he is running because he is concerned about the revenue estimates from the 2/10ths of a percent sales tax increase through a Transportation Improvement District approved by voters last year. He feels the estimates are too high, and he is also concerned about how it will impact local businesses.
There was no specific reason why Lord decided to run against Dawes in particular, he said.
“When I put my name in, there was no one running in that position,” Lord said.
Chehalis city government operates under a council-manager form of government, meaning the only elected officials in the city are the council. The city manager runs the day-to-day operations of the city. The council votes one of its members in as mayor to fill that role for official and ceremonial purposes.
No single member is responsible for accomplishing any particular goal, Dawes said. It takes four or more.
“It is a team effort,” he said. “I think we are making good changes to the city of Chehalis.”
With that in mind, Dawes said he wants to work with the council to keep the city growing and to improve the roads.
Spahr said he wants to help make the city an attractive location for larger businesses to come in order to create more good-paying jobs for graduates from Chehalis to get so they stay in their hometown. The biggest factor in this is developing good housing opportunities, he said.
“We are on the cusp of it, but we need to get some new housing put in,” he said. “It is going to attract some good people and some good companies.”
The primary goal all the candidates share is to improve the city and help it grow.
“The goal is to keep moving the city in the direction we are heading, which is positive,” Spahr said.
Following candidate filing week, The Chronicle will be featuring local races over the next several editions.