Centralia Council District No. 1 incumbent Cameron McGee will be challenged for his seat this November by Lisa Striedinger, a peer housing case manager and housing advocate.
Owner of Calypso Window Washington LLC, McGee, 33, is a lifelong Lewis County resident who was first elected to the council in 2017. He is seeking a second term on the council.
McGee currently chairs the city council’s financial committee. Aside from the council, he also serves on the Economic Alliance of Lewis County board (previously known as the Lewis Economic Development Council), the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce board and has done work with the Young Professionals Lewis County group.
“I’m heavily invested in the community. I’ve spent my entire life here, my kids go to school here, I’ve got business here,” McGee said at an Oct. 5 debate hosted by The Chronicle Editorial Board, emphasizing a drive to collaborate with other governments, nonprofits and entities within the community.
“I want to see people work together, I want to make the community better, I want it to keep thriving,” he said.
McGee also served recently on an ad-hoc city council subcommittee that worked to reconfigure the city’s zoning regulations to support permanent supportive and transitional housing. He shared that work alongside Councilors Kelly Smith Johnston and Rebecca Staebler.
The council has considered making that subcommittee permanent to better examine its city zoning in the future and support the community’s housing needs as they shift.
Further on housing, McGee said the city needs to think of “smart growth” when it considers where to build infrastructure for developers. More projects, such as the ongoing streetscape plan, should also be considered, and the city should continue to look at zoning, he said.
The city can do that through “smart infrastructure, working with our partners and making it an enticing place to live,” he said.
Striedinger is the founder of nonprofit Friends Without Homes, which works to connect the area’s homeless population to local resources. Dissatisfied with how the city has excluded people such as herself with lived homeless experiences, Striedinger has said she’s running for office to bring a compassionate voice to the table and fight for a healthier community.
She’s said she’d like to see the city grow its recovery services and bring more recreation to the area. She’s married to Steve Hubbard, a Centralia City Council candidate running for another seat.
Striedinger has also served on FEMA’s emergency food and shelter board and the governor’s office’s Affordable Housing Advisory Board.
“I have a superpower of relatability, to relate to our community members. I believe my past has molded the person I am today,” she said, detailing the lived experience required in her current line of work. “My past is a very, very vivid, broad lens of what life can bring when you haven’t been given the golden spoon. But, I can honestly tell you, that the tools I carry into this position are vital and give me the unique qualifications to sit here on the council for this community.”
Striedinger said she’s been working since 2016 to address homelessness in the community, since having experienced it herself. She said there’s been great change in the community, mostly at the work and behest of advocates.
She’d like to see the city establish a proper cold shelter and more shelter for those without secure housing. She’d also like to see the city more thoroughly look at what’s keeping people not housed.
Striedinger said she holds an associate’s degree in chemical dependency and is a state certified behavioral health peer counselor. She’s also trained in mental health first aid and trauma-informed person first care.
The Chronicle has also published a story that takes a deeper dive into Striedinger’s background, which includes past convictions and allegations of violent behavior. Striedinger has denied some of the details provided in court documents, and has maintained that while her record is not clean, she is a better person for having that lived experience.
This year’s general election will take place Tuesday, Nov. 2. The candidate who receives a majority of the votes cast in their race will be elected to a four-year district term starting January 2022.
Four other seats on the Centralia City Council are up for reelection this November.
Hubbard and Leah Daarud will battle it out for Councilor Mark Westley’s at-large seat; Westley is running unopposed for a district seat that’s being vacated by Councilor Susan Luond; incumbent Rebecca Staebler is being challenged by Sarah Althauser; and incumbent Max Vogt, the current Centralia mayor, is being challenged by Rhoda Angove.
All registered Lewis County voters will receive a ballot by mail for the general election starting next week, according to the Lewis County Auditor’s Office. Ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2 or in a county-certified election drop box by 8 p.m. on election day.
Voters can confirm their ballot status after submission by going online to www.votewa.gov.
The last day to register or update voter registration via online or by mail to vote in the Nov. 2 election is Oct. 25. Washington state voters can still show up in-person at their local auditor’s office to register or change their address up until 8 p.m. on election day.