Editor’s note: All answers were written by the candidates and have been lightly edited for format. Some answers may have been shortened.
Name: Joe DePinto
Education: Yelm High School, New Market Skills Center, Eastern Washington University
Elected Offices Held: Yelm City Council, Position 6
Elected Offices Sought: Yelm City Council, Position 6
Community Involvement: Having grown up in Yelm I have been involved and engaged with our community at an early age and over the years have participated in the same community events you and your families attend. I’ve bought my first house here in Yelm on Crystal Springs Road where I live with my wife Sarah who is a Yelm School teacher.
Volunteer Experience: I’ve coached youth baseball in Yelm, volunteered (and played as kid) for Prairie Soccer Club, filled backpacks for the homeless, served food for folks at Emanuel Lutheran Church for their “Giving Thanks Meal” and I am an active member at the Yelm Eagles where I have helped at community events such as their annual Easter Egg Hunt.
Why are you running for office?: I’m running for re-election so I can continue to be a voice of the people. As a councilmember I always look at new policy from the perspective of a resident and seek guidance and input from the constituents I serve. I’m a public servant, not a public master.
What is the largest issue facing the candidate who will be elected to this office?: Whether or not to increase water/sewer/stormwater rates (again) to pay for updating our water treatment facility.
What will you do to address that issue?: Vote no. While I understand the need to renovate our dated water treatment facility, I can’t ask residents in Yelm to take on another double digit rate increase when so many are struggling to make ends meet as it is. I will pursue other funding models such as general fund transfers, going after more state funding, and as a last resort increasing taxes/fees ONLY if approved by a vote of the people.
Why should voters choose you?: I am the most fiscally conservative member on the current council, the only current councilmember to have never missed a City Council meeting or study session (I even planned my wedding and honeymoon around these meetings), and I am always in the corner of the people.
What sets you apart from other challengers vying for this seat?: Besides the experience and knowledge gained serving for 4 years on the Yelm City Council, I have a unique skill set due to my career and past job experience having worked for a Member of Congress, a Washington State Representative, and in my current job as a lobbyist.
How do you plan to include more of the community in local government?: While I don’t want to force people to be more involved, I do want to increase transparency in our Government by ensuring that more meetings are recorded and available for the public.
If the city were to receive a no-strings-attached $1 million grant, what would you like to see the city do with it?: Put it towards funding upgrades and renovations to our water treatment facility.
Where can voters learn more about you?: On my Facebook page @electjoedepinto or visit my website JoeDePinto.com
Name: Matthew McLellan
Occupation: Financial Advisor
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
Elected Offices Held: None
Elected Offices Sought: City Council Position 6
Community Involvement and Volunteer Experience: Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce- Board of Directors; Lions- Morning Liaison and Board of Directors; Younglife- Financial Director; Humpday Partner Dancing- Founder/Owner; Toastmasters- VP Membership; Yelm Competent Communicators- Chapter Sponsor Member; Yelm Prairie Christian Center- Percussionist; Yelm Historic Club- Member; Yelm Leads @Lunch- Member; Eagles- Member; Prairie Days- Organizers Group Member; The Yelm Banquet- Founding Organizer; Jazz in the Park- Sponsor and Dance Coordinator; Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally- Founding Organizer; Yelm Street Dance- Organizer
Why are you running for office?: I care deeply about my community, and I believe that I can leverage my youth and new energy to revitalize our local government and make sure that it is working for all of Yelm’s citizens. I have the skills, connections, and passion to get things done. Serving the people of Yelm is my only motivation.
What is the largest issue facing the candidate who will be elected to this office?: There are four issues facing Yelm and its councilmembers that are of equal importance: The speed at which Yelm is growing, the lack of vibrancy our businesses deserve, government transparency, and the threat to our small-town culture.
What will you do to address that issue?: These are big issues that cannot be resolved in the limited space the newspaper has allotted me. You can find my detailed strategy on my website (listed below), or reach out to me on my Facebook page, Matthew McLellan for Yelm City Council, to hear my four part strategy in detail. My solutions rely on harnessing the voices and passion of the community and bringing people together with their local government.
Why should voters choose you?: Our local government needs somebody with a strong financial background in office. I will use my skills as a financial advisor to make sure your taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly. I am the youngest candidate running for office, and there is strength in my fresh perspective and energy. Most importantly, voters should choose me because I will work with them to retain that small town feeling we all love about Yelm.
What sets you apart from other challengers vying for this seat?: My opponent and I have more in common than not, but the biggest difference is that I am not a politician. I am a local business owner, a lifelong community volunteer, and a political underdog without name recognition. I just want to work for the city I love and help Yelm’s citizens guide it towards the future we all envision rather than trying to push my own will onto the city. I find great pride in my family's heritage in Yelm going back multiple generations, so I have a vested interest in keeping it a home we can all be proud of.
How do you plan to include more of the community in local government?: First and foremost, our government needs to come to the people and meet them where they are. Making information available is not enough; delivering that information is just as important. I have a number of creative solutions for putting city happenings right into the hands of folks who live here instead of making them search it out. Additionally, my plans for cultivating vibrancy, which are detailed on my website, will bring to fruition the inclusivity that we all want for our community. My run for council focuses on bringing everyone together with their government and with their neighbors, because that is the only way a community can thrive.
If the city were to receive a no-strings-attached $1 million grant, what would you like to see the city do with it?: WATER. The vast majority of folks in Yelm have comments about our city's water situation. I would love to see our city allocate available funds to the commitment to easing the financial strains of our community members.
Where can voters learn more about you?: My website, www.McLellanForYelm.com is a great place to start, as well as my Facebook page, Matthew McLellan for Yelm City Council. I can frequently be found around town at community events and always love to engage with everyone who wants to speak about my campaign and our town.