In August 2017, four members of our Lakewood City Council, whose positions expire on December 31, 2017, are running for reelection. The four incumbents are Jason Whalen, who serves as deputy mayor, Mary Moss, Michael Brandstetter and John Simpson.
Only one Lakewood citizen, Ms. Ria Johnson-Covington, (Link to the press release announcing candidacy), is committed to challenging one of the incumbents, Mr. John Simpson for Council Position 5. The other three are running unopposed.
Photo: Candidate Ms. Ria J. Johnson-Covington. She may be just what we need to help our city step out of the fog when it comes to the letter of the law or at least the spirit of the law related to avoiding Constitutional Rights violations.
When citizens have a choice of candidates, there is the likelihood we can build a better city council including when the best choice ends up being the incumbent. Good choices combined with good decision making will lead us to the most favorable outcome.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Ria at Starbucks for some coffee and conversation. It was an enjoyable learning experience.
Ria and her husband, who is an Army veteran, own a home in Lakewood. Ria is most accurately described as a hard working, dedicated, boot-strap individual. She came up the hard way overcoming many obstacles that would have crushed most people.
Ria did not have a normal childhood. Growing up in a single-parent household, she had to take over adult responsibilities at an early age because her mother suffered serious health problems, eventually leading to her mother’s blindness.
Serving as a caregiver to her mother, made school almost impossible. Ria attended Clover Park Alternative Individual High School. The school was across the street from the apartment she and her mother shared. Ria’s mother passed away early in the new century. Sometime after, Ria experienced various forms of homelessness.
Instead of escaping into drugs and alcohol as many would have in like life circumstances, she threw herself into acquiring a good education, working and civic activity.
Ria, having grown up in a non-traditional manner, has strong positive feelings for our City of Lakewood and many of its leading citizens. Our city supported her at a crucial time. One citizen, she mentioned fondly was our first mayor, General Bill Harrison.
If I attempted to write about all of Ria’s current and past activities in our city, my article would greatly exceed my standard word count goal maximum of 1,000 words or less. Let me simply list a sampling of Ria’s civic activities, contributions, and achievements as follows:
- Ria is Board Chair for Kids at Hope Northwest.
- Ria is a member of United Way Pierce County Political Advocacy Committee.
- Ria is a member of the Community Health Care Executive Board.
- Ria helped build and beautify Fort Steilacoom Park and Lakewood Skate Park.
- Ria formerly served on the Greater Pierce County Community Network, Lakewood’s Promise Board, and the Lakewood Youth Council.
- Ria helped Lakewood Police organize Shop with a Cop, a program for underprivileged children during the Christmas season.
- Ria participated in high school educational program Running Start, simultaneously earning a high school diploma and two years of college.
- Ria is a member of Kiwanis.
- Ria is a past member of Lions.
- Ria, at age 18 was totally on her own with no parents or family to help her transition into adult life.
- Ria caught the attention of her instructors because they could see her potential.
- Ria started working with Ms. Andy Gernon, a former member of our city council getting her first taste of politics when she helped with Ms. Gernon’s political campaign.
- Ria worked with the former mayor, Ms. Claudia Thomas.
- Ria started attending city council meetings because, at an early age, she became interested in our city and city politics.
- Ria is an outstanding example of how city resources can go a long way towards helping a youth become a productive adult. Ria calls our city, “Team Awesome”.
- Ria worked with Boys & Girls Club.
- Ria worked with Mr. Dan Comsia on a 1 million dollar grant related to supporting and improving relationship and parenting skills. The grant program focussed on marriage and fatherhood as a part of the Healthy Marriage and Fatherhood Coalition.
Ria demonstrates a strong work ethic, a thirst for knowledge and a desire to help her beloved City of Lakewood. That combined with her bootstrap tenacity makes her a worthy candidate for Lakewood City Council.
Ria preaches fairness and knowledge-based decision making, along with long-term thinking, and accountability.
Let me end with, please cast your vote for the August 1, 2017, election. There are approximately 60,000 residents in Lakewood. We have 30,000 registered to vote. Only 7,000 voted in the last election. We can do better.
Get to know the candidates including their strengths and weaknesses. Vote for the person you think is the best candidate.
If you believe John Simpson is the preferred candidate, then please vote for Mr. Simpson, but do not vote for him just because he is the incumbent or because he has more political street signs. “Incumbency” is not a virtue, nor are political street signs an intelligent reason to vote for anyone. Instead, vote for the individual you deem to be the best candidate.
In that regard, Lakewood City Council candidate, Ria Johnson-Covington, deserves your thoughtful consideration. For more information, Ria has a website, We4Ria.com.