Three candidates are competing for the mayor's seat in Vader in the upcoming August primary election.
Two candidates, Judi Costello and Tom Shows, are challenging incumbent Mayor Joe Schey, who was appointed to finish former mayor Lois Wilson’s two-year term after she resigned in January 2020.
This year’s primary will take place Tuesday, Aug. 3. The two candidates who get the most votes move on to the general election in November. The candidate who wins the seat in November will be elected to a two-year term beginning in January 2022.
Costello has 25 years of experience in city politics — 13 of which have been with the City of Vader — and she hopes that experience paired with her business mentality will make her an appealing candidate to voters.
“I think I bring business to the table. Running a city is about running a business. It’s got thousands of dollars and I believe that's what a person needs to have some kind of background in that type of thing, how to budget it into different directions that accomplish what a community of 600 people really need,” Costello said.
The owner of two local businesses, Apple Electric and Spin City Laundry, Costello has been elected to the Vader City Council twice in recent years but both times she said she had to resign before the end of her term in order to help her daughter and young grandchildren while her daughter was deployed as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
If elected as mayor, Costello said one of her biggest priorities is making it so Vader City Hall can stay open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week, so citizens aren’t restricted by the building’s limited hours.
Other priorities include expanding the city’s police department, finding a local planning inspector the city can contract with rather than relying on a Seattle- or Tacoma-based agency and making plans to deal with previously neglected maintenance in city-owned buildings.
“We have tons of city buildings that haven’t had maintenance for probably 25 years and right now is a perfect time for economic development,” she said.
She also hopes to enhance the viability of the community by promoting local events that bring people into town. She also wants to prioritize addressing the parking situation near the Little Crane Cafe, which she said has been an ongoing problem.
“I think these items can boost this city to the next level,” she said.
Looking long-term, Costello said she hopes to work with the Castle Rock School District to expand Vader’s school, which currently only serves kindergarteners, up to third grade, so those kids don’t have to travel an hour or more to get to school.
When asked what she would say to voters who have yet to decide on a candidate, Costello said “I would just say look at each individual person and you have one vote, make your vote count, talk to the people — if you want to go out and talk to any one of us, we’re all available to speak to.”
She added, “My thing is, I want whoever is mayor to focus on the community as a whole and these people all deserve something that will make their lives better.”
Shows, a retired logger and U.S. Army veteran, is running on a platform of transparency.
While he has no prior experience working in local government, Shows said that he has been a Vader resident for the last five years and has experience working as a military police officer within the Army. He owned his own logging business in San Antonio, Texas, before he decided to move to Vader.
When asked why he decided to run for mayor, Shows said, “I don’t like the government we’ve got here” and added “I observed what was going on and it just got to me.”
Aside from a lack of transparency from the city government, Shows said he takes issue with Vader’s budget.
“They’re spending all the tax money on stuff and some things and it should be going into the city, into the loggers,” he said.
Schey views his bid to continue serving as the mayor of Vader the same way he views his service on the Vader City Council: a civic obligation to the people of Vader.
“Serving on the council or as mayor is both an honor and a public trust. I serve because I am asked to, and because it’s the right thing to do,” Schey said. “If elected as mayor, I will continue to perform the duties of that office with professionalism, fairness and an ongoing commitment to the role.”
Schey served on the city council from 2014 to 2019 and, when Wilson resigned in early 2020, the city council unanimously voted for Schey, who was serving as mayor-pro-tem at the time, to finish out Wilson’s term.
In the seven years he has been working as an elected official in Vader, Schey said he personally secured a total of $2.5 million in grants for the city.
“Through my efforts, the city will have no construction loans for the new wastewater plant and no related rate increases,” he said. “It is my intent to continue city infrastructure upgrades utilizing as much grant funding as possible.”
A major part of ensuring the city can continue securing grant funding for future infrastructure updates, Schey said, is making sure that the city’s procedures, policies and governing documents stay up-to-date with state standards.
“While paperwork updates aren’t exciting, doing this keeps doors open for various grant funding for parks, roads and utilities. It’s a constant process and can’t be dropped as a priority,” he said.
Schey has listened to his constituency’s ongoing concerns about the city losing its water utility to the county and their desire to have the city regain control of the city’s water.
“Many in the city feel that reacquiring the water utility from the county is necessary,” said Schey. “If so, this will be a year-long process with various attorney interactions, authoring of management plans, and hiring of qualified employees.”
Another ongoing issue that he would need to keep an eye on as mayor is the need to balance continued development with the city’s small-town charm.
“Encouraging and attracting new residential and commercial development while maintaining our small-town appeal will be a balancing act that needs to be managed closely,” he said.
Schey encouraged voters to research and speak to each of the candidates before they cast their vote, and vote for the candidate they believe would do the best job as mayor.
“If the people choose me, I will continue to dedicate myself to the task and do the best that I can possibly do for the citizens of Vader and the continued success of our city.”