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‘We’re trying to do the best we can,’ says Lacey mayor after elected officials threatened

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 19, 2021

By Rolf Boone The Olympian

Amid a busy Lacey City Council meeting on Thursday, Mayor Andy Ryder still took a moment to tell his constituents, “We’re trying to do the best we can. I just want the public to know that.”

What spurred this moment of reflection?

It apparently was spurred by a recent National League of Cities conference that Ryder and Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt attended. The group, which advocates on behalf of cities throughout the country, released a survey that posed this question: Have you as an elected official received threats to you or your family? More than 80% replied that they had, Ryder said.

In addition to the survey data, Ryder and Pratt also heard from other elected officials who said their homes had been shot at, or they had to escort their children home from school, or stay in a hotel because it was unsafe at home.

The experience hit him hard, said Ryder, leading him to defend the council on Thursday and make a plea for understanding.

“Everyone here has received a threat,” he said in reference to the council, “and we’re doing our best to represent the residents and businesses of the city”

Ryder didn’t identify any specific threats made to the council, although a few council members appeared to nod in agreement.

“It’s been a tough year,” said Ryder, adding that COVID-19, social media and what he called “hyper-partisanship” have contributed to those difficulties.

For some elected officials, it’s too much.

“People are saying, ‘I’m done,’” Ryder said. “They’re trying to give back to their community but all they receive are threats over and over again.”

“We’re better than this as a community and as a society,” he said. “Most elected officials are sincere, and are doing their best, and they’re not doing this out of some malicious intent.”

Other than a clarifying question raised by Councilman Ed Kunkel, the council remained silent during Ryder’s remarks.

City Manager Scott Spence finally was the last to speak.

“Sobering, mayor,” he said.

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