Newest Councilor Remembers a Bucolic Yelm

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Since being appointed to Yelm’s city council, EJ Curry, 65, has been studying hard to get caught up with the details of city government.

Although she won’t be on the council long until her seat is up for election, she still wants to make the most of it.

“I am a placeholder,” she said. “The voters in Yelm will decide what they are going to do.”

With the budget process starting in October, one of Curry’s main goals is to make sure the city is financially stable.

“I’d like to see us in the black, fiscally stable,” she said.

Curry has budget experience. She served on the Yelm Adult Community Center board after former Mayor Ron Harding asked her to and helped save it from total collapse.

“We cut out everything, everything they were spending money on,” she said.

Then she and another board member started going after grants. The senior center is now able to float and provide all the meals on wheels to seniors throughout South Thurston County, Curry said — all the way to Rochester.

Curry believes the city has been better managed in comparison to the senior center. She praised Harding for keeping the city in the black. Curry was a strong supporter of Harding throughout his time as mayor.

“He knew the job,” she said. “He was willing to give the time to get Yelm back up county-wide. A mayor’s job is a hard job, I think it’s a full-time job. I’ve always said that.”

She said she plans on bringing up this idea to the council during the budget process. Making the mayor’s job full time would allow him or her to easily attend county meetings in the middle of the day when he would have to work at another job to support his family. This is something Curry feels is worth discussing.

Curry is not a one-issue councilmember, Mayor JW Foster said after she was appointed earlier this month. Foster is confident she will be an asset to the council.

Aside from serving on the senior center’s board, Curry has been on the city’s planning commission, Dollars for Scholars and several other service groups.

“She always donates something or cash,” said Chrissy DeHan, Yelm Community Schools community relations assistant director. “Her family has provided a memorial scholarship.”

Aside from donating both time and money to Dollars for Scholars, Curry is also a big supporter of the FFA, DeHan said. She donates money to help students pay for trips to state and national competitions.

“She helps out all over the place,” DeHan said.

Curry’s family has lived in Yelm since 1927. Her grandfather bought the telephone company in town and settled his family here. She has lived most of her life in Yelm except when she attended college and held a few jobs out of town.

“Seemed like I always ended up back here,” she said. “I am the only one sitting at this whole group that remembers no stoplights in Yelm.”

With her long history in Yelm, she said it will help her approach issues better. If something is brought up and it has failed in the past, she said her time in the city will help her figure out why it failed the first time and how to get it to work the second time.

Having just been appointed she is unsure if she will run for the seat when it is up for election in November 2017. Right now, she is looking forward to working with the council to address the current issues the city has.

“I don’t think there isn’t a soul on the city council that doesn’t envision a perfect Yelm,” she said.

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