Yelm City Council candidates talk about upcoming election


In efforts to familiarize themselves with voting community members, Stephanie Kangiser and Tracey Wood, candidates for Yelm City Council position No. 1, made their claims as to why voters should cast their votes for them in separate interviews on Oct. 2.

The Thurston County General Election is slated for Nov. 7, and ballots will be available for voters on Oct. 18. Voters pamphlets will be mailed Oct. 12-14.

Stephanie Kangiser

Despite not having prior elected experience, Kangiser has immersed herself in the Yelm community by participating in several different organizations, including over 10 years as member of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce, serving as the Yelm Dollars for Scholars secretary, and being a four-year Rotary Club of Yelm member.

On top of her work with community organizations, Kangiser has owned Bliss Experience, a full-service Aveda salon in Roy, for over 10 years.

“This is a way that I can give back, make a difference in one more avenue. I do think I’ll make a big difference on the City Council. My opponent has been on the City Council before, and that’s wonderful. I hate that it’s him or me, but that’s how it was supposed to happen,” Kangiser said. “I think I’d make a huge difference because I’d be a new face. When you look at our City Council, there’s a lot of people that are new to City Council and new to politics. That’s one space where I think I can learn and grow.”

Kangiser believes the community should vote for her because of her longevity and involvement within the Yelm community. She said her experience as a small business owner, in Yelm Chamber of Commerce, Yelm Dollars for Scholars and in the Rotary Club has given her an understanding of the community and its needs.

“My visions for council would be to make all of 98597 [zip code] able to have a voice. I’ve learned a lot over the last little while, and there’s only so much we can do about changing the borders, but being able to give businesses a voice, individual people a voice, is a goal of mine,” Kangiser said. “Being able to bridge the city government to our community is one of my biggest focuses, too.”

Kangiser said it has been her goal to run for council for some time.

“When James Blair moved, and position 1 became vacant, that made me think a lot about the opportunity. It became a very active conversation in our household,” Kangiser said. “I always thought once the kids graduated, that’s when I’d pursue this. But when the position became vacant, it gave me food for thought that maybe the time is now. I got the green light from home, and here we are.”

Kangiser believes her 24 years of experience in the salon industry and 12 years as a business owner would help her if elected. She said that background will help her understand what happens within the confines of City Council, how to advocate for businesses and understanding what it takes to advocate for them.

“Why have I been here for 20 years? I’m from Tacoma and worked in Puyallup for a while, but what I’m liking the most about Yelm is how close-knit the town is. People always come back, and people always know each other around town. If the world follows the six degrees of separation, Yelm follows two degrees.

“I give my all. Where there’s a need, I like to make those connections,” Kangiser continued. “I will do my best to listen, to connect and keep making those strong connections. I don’t have a strong political background, and I’m learning and growing with our city. I’d love to be a part of the continued growth.”

Tracey Wood

Wood, longtime owner of Mr. Doug’s Family Restaurant in Yelm, was an active member of the Yelm City Council from 2010 to 2022. His community service includes serving as a Yelm Chamber of Commerce board member, a contributor to the Yelm Senior Center, Yelm Rotary summer meal program volunteer, Yelm Prairie Days donor and Yelm Christmas in the Park caterer.

Wood was also appointed mayor pro-tem, and served as mayor in the elected mayor’s absence.

“Local voters should vote for me because I have significant experience within the Yelm City Council. Right now, my perception of what’s taking place on council is (there’s) a seven-person council with four appointed councilors,” Wood said. “I should be on the council because they need some help, someone with some experience and knowledge. My goal is to help get this council back on track.”

Wood added he is easily approachable to community residents. The former councilor said he’s not opposed to anyone talking to him about anything, and he’s had a lot of these conversations already within his business.

“I’m a longtime business owner and resident here in Yelm. The reason I am getting back involved is because I care about this community, and I intend to live here for a long period of time. I am not about the government controlling everything. I believe it has a role to play. That’s to provide what we the citizens need to be successful in life. I am an opponent of government overreach,” Wood said. “I can be effective. I have a history and record of being effective in going to these different regional meetings, too, which are really important.”

Wood, like Kangiser, has given back to the community in numerous ways, including his business’s participation in events like Christmas in the Park and different local food drives or food banks and the Mr. Doug’s scholarship for students going into trade school or into the working world.

“I’m fortunate to be in a position where I have this opportunity, and we first recognized that when we purchased Mr. Doug’s 10 years ago. I can’t afford to put out what I’d like to because life costs money, but as the owner of Mr. Doug’s, it gives us a chance to do these things for the community and absorb them through the business rather than as an individual,” Wood said. “We don’t make a lot of noise about it because that’s not who we are.”

Wood said he is fully aware of what his duties would be if elected and what his role is within the local government.

“When I go to these council meetings now, I sit there in awe. I can’t believe what I’m watching, the disarray. I listen to these reports, and it’s so frustrating listening to these people take up time discussing what they’ve done and where they’ve gone over the last couple of weeks, and it mostly has no relation to Yelm,” Woods said. “I’m getting back involved because I think the city needs me to, and I’m willing to get in and help. I’m not a politician. I’m a business owner who lives in a community that needs some help.”

The former longtime councilor hinted that his goals might not stop at just Yelm City Council, if elected.