Our Views: The Chronicle’s Centralia City Council Endorsements

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Pursuing public office requires courage.

It means your private life is in many cases no longer private, that your past mistakes could be used against you and that those brave enough to put their names on the ballot could very well be blamed for problems they had no hand in creating.

That’s why, regardless of the following endorsements, we thank each and every one of this year’s political candidates for stepping forward and offering their time and expertise to the people of Centralia.

These endorsements were compiled after recent debates held at The Chronicle and attended by the editorial board. We encourage voters who hold different opinions about the candidates to use our Opinion pages to detail why they believe we are wrong or right in our choices. Further, we hope the public will do their own homework, watch the debates, ask the candidates questions and determine for themselves who would be best to help lead our communities into the future.

The general election is Nov. 2.

 

McGee the Obvious Choice in District 1

The Chronicle Editorial Board provided every Centralia City Council candidate with an opportunity to inform voters of anything in their past that might be relevant to their candidacy.

Lisa Striedinger, seeking to unseat incumbent Cameron McGee, breezed past the question, giving up a perfect opportunity to outline her criminal history and tell voters why it is not indicative of her current temperament.

Reporting by The Chronicle’s newsroom subsequently revealed that Striedinger’s criminal history includes a conviction for attempted assault of a child along with allegations of financial exploitation of the elderly and assault. Most recently, in 2017, she was also cited for allegedly throwing coffee at a worker in a fit of anger at a Chehalis store.

Her reaction to the reporting was to accuse The Chronicle’s family ownership of having a vendetta against her.

We don’t question her motives in seeking office. Streidinger says she is a changed woman who took advantage of her time being incarcerated to earn degrees and now works through her own nonprofit to help those struggling with homelessness and other afflictions.

But her unwillingness to accept scrutiny and her penchant for blaming others for her own missteps is troubling as she pursues public office where she would have a say in important decisions and investments by the Centralia City Council.

McGee has proven himself to be an astute, effective and steady voice on the council in his first term. He’s engaged on the issues and has a clear focus on the future of the city and its needs. As a local business owner, he has his finger on the pulse of the local economy and uses that experience to inform his approach on the council.

Of all the races on this year’s ballot, this one is the easiest choice.

Vote McGee.

 

Daarud Deserves Your Vote

No matter what happens, the Centralia City Council will have at least one new voice as Leah Daarud, a county planner, and Steven Hubbard, a special finance manager in the automotive industry, seek to fill the position left vacant by Mark Westley, who is pursuing another seat on the council unopposed.

During the debate, Hubbard spent time harping against masks and vaccine mandates — issues far beyond the purview of the city council — and directly accused Daarud of being in favor of taxes while he is against taxes, which is untrue.

While we agree with some of his opinions, their relevance to the actual work of being a city councilor is almost non-existent.

Both candidates have shown a willingness to get involved, with Hubbard operating his own nonprofit — Friends Without Homes — with his wife and fellow candidate Lisa Striedinger while also being involved in the Lewis County Gospel Mission. For her part, Daarud has worked with homeless people for 15 years and has worked “with the Hub City Mission, the Salvation Army Community Garden, the Centralia Clean Team, Friends of Seminary Hill work parties and the Mobile Meals Ministry,” according to The Chronicle newsroom’s reporting.

Both are against enacting any property tax increases.

What sets Daarud apart is her understanding of the role of a city councilor. She seems to have a good understanding of the responsibilities of the office and what governing entails at the municipal level.

Both candidates have shown they care about the community.

Daarud has shown she is better equipped to work effectively for the citizens of Centralia.

 

It’s a Fresh Perspective vs. Experience in District 3

There isn’t necessarily a wrong choice in Centralia City Council District 3.

Incumbent Max Vogt, a real estate broker and business owner who serves as mayor of the city after previously being mayor pro tem, is facing a challenge from Rhoda Angove, an office manager.

It would be difficult to question the dedication and expertise of Vogt, who is fond of reminding voters he has never missed a meeting since being appointed to the council in 2015. He seems to have a firm command on the issues and what it means to be an elected city leader.

He has an optimistic view of the future of Centralia and has proven he wants to work hard to get there.

Angove provides a strong option for voters who might believe fresh energy and ideas are routinely needed in an effective government.

Angove’s candidacy seems largely focused on supporting and representing local businesses while protecting constitutional values.

She would bring a fresh perspective and new ideas while Vogt would provide a firm understanding of city business and proven track record.

Either candidate would serve Centralia well.

 

Similar Perspectives Offered by District 2 Candidates

If you’re looking for political drama and disagreements, the race for Centralia City Council District 2 is not the place for you.

Incumbent Rebecca Staebler, a business owner in downtown Centralia, is facing challenger Sarah Althauser, also a downtown business owner, for a four-year term.

Similar to the situation in District 3, voters will likely be well-served by either choice in a race between two competent professionals who truly seem to have a passion for the city and a vision for seeing it improve.

Staebler clearly has a firmer grasp on the issues having been elected to the council in 2017, but Althauser provides contagious optimism for the city that is perhaps indicative of her background as a kindergarten teacher.

She’s also proven she’s willing to work, having been a driving force behind the creation of the Pine Street Plaza in downtown Centralia.

During debates, these candidates might be the only ones to have used a rebuttal to agree with one another.

They’re both personally invested in the health of the city and see the role of the council as being aimed at helping the city’s economy and financial standing in addition to its overall appearance and attractiveness.

Voters must choose: four more years for the status quo in District 2 or a new voice.

We don’t believe either choice would fail them.

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