Letter to the Editorial Board (submitted by Quint Newell)

Dear Editorial Board,

Your review of the candidates for Olympia City Council Position 2 and endorsement in that race lacked analysis. You endorsed Ms. Huynh in conclusory fashion, merely stating she “can bring a number of valuable lenses to decision-making.” What would Ms. Huynh bring that her opponent, Mrs. Kesler, would not bring?

Mrs. Kesler is a minority woman, as is Ms. Huynh. Mrs. Kesler was the first in her family to graduate college, as is Ms. Huynh. Ms. Huynh is a renter, and Mrs. Kesler rented for approximately ten years. Ms. Huynh is a state employee. Mrs. Kesler has been a state employee. Ms. Huynh frequently claims to have business experience (unspecified). Mrs. Kesler has owned a small business, served on the Board of a large business, and has legal experience related to business. Ms. Huynh claims to have done equity work with marginalized communities. Mrs. Kesler has done work for the betterment of Native Americans. Ms. Huynh was on the planning commission for ten months and a councilmember for ten months. Mrs. Kesler has been an attorney for fifteen years, including five years as general counsel for a Tribe and four years in the Legislature.

Mrs. Kesler has been a working mother most of her busy professional career (as an attorney in public practice) and still made time to be involved in non-profit organizations. Mrs. Kesler would bring everything to the table Ms. Huynh brings—and then some (e.g. law degree). Mrs. Kesler is the more qualified candidate.

Quint Newell

Letter to the Editor (submitted by Steve Bean)

I have been an attorney in Olympia for over 50 years and support my colleague, Robbi Kesler, for Olympia City Council. An attorney would bring a unique perspective to the council and a wealth of knowledge. Lawyers have three years of intense training in law school that includes learning to analyze laws and understanding the functions of government. Our careers are spent communicating, problem solving, and further studying the law. No profession is better equipped to mold good law makers.

Robbi is particularly well suited for City Council because she has experience helping to lead a Tribal government as their general counsel and she served as staff counsel for the State House of Representative’s Local Government Committee. I have heard some suggest Robbi lacks local government experience because she has not served on a city committee/commission, but this suggestion is preposterous. An attorney who has helped lead a sovereign nation’s government and been involved with the State Legislature already has more knowledge of laws and local government issues than could ever be gained by serving on a city commission, or the city council for that matter.

Moreover, Robbi is active in her community and has been a working mother most of her career. She has done more than enough in her personal and professional life to earn my vote. Please join me in voting for Robbi.

Steve Bean

Letter to the Editor (submitted by Deborah Sioux Cano-Lee)

Because in the past we have had so few Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) holding public office, I am excited about the number of BIPOC candidates running for Olympia City Council. African American candidates have fair chances of winning two council seats (Positions 5 and 6). In the race for Position 2, a Native American woman, Robbi Kesler, is running against a woman with Vietnamese heritage, Yen Huynh, insuring that at least one BIPOC candidate will be elected. However, what is concerning is misinformation coming out of Huynh’s campaign that attempts to portray her as the only person of color running in that race.

Elected officials who have publicly endorsed Huynh have stated that voting for her “can send a clear message that representation and diversity really matter.” -- implying that voting for a Skokomish Native American candidate would not be a vote for a BIPOC person? Of concern is that Huynh’s campaign has chosen to promote this statement delegitimizing a Native American woman who is eminently better qualified to sit on the Olympia City Council than is Huynh.

In fact, Kesler would not only bring diversity, but degrees from the UW and the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law in AZ, as well as career experience as Council for the Chehalis Tribes, then tax policy with the Department of Revenue before serving as nonpartisan council for the Washington State Legislature – and public service positions too numerous to list here. I do agree, representation matters.

Deborah Sioux Cano-Lee

Letter to the Editor (submitted by Kelly Morgan)

Olympia voters, please cast your ballots for Robbi Kesler when you vote for Olympia City Council Position 2. Robbi and I met when our kids were at the same preschool, and then we served together on the community council of a local public elementary. She is incredibly organized, a hard-worker, and a good collaborator. There are so many opportunities and challenges facing our beautiful city, and we are so lucky to have a chance to elect someone with Robbi’s deep professional experience and broad lived experience.

Robbi grew up in Mason county. Her first job was in high school at a local restaurant here in Olympia. Her impressive professional experience since then - including as a policy advisor to members of the state House of Representatives on local government issues and as General Counsel to the Chehalis Tribe - offer a truly unique opportunity for us to elect an Olympia council member with a deep understanding of city government and tribal relations.

Our city recently signed a new Accord with the Squaxin Island Tribal Council. Robbi is an enrolled member of the Skokomish Tribe, and served as attorney to the Chehalis Tribe for several years. Electing Robbi will further show our collective commitment to having a native voice at the decision table.

Kelly Morgan