Incumbent Takes on Two Challengers in Yelm City Council Primary

By Daniel Warn /
Posted 7/13/21

Incumbent Terry Kaminski is facing candidates Joseph Richardson and Christopher Chai for Yelm City Council Position No. 7 in the August primary election.

Kaminski, 64, has no political …

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Incumbent Takes on Two Challengers in Yelm City Council Primary


Incumbent Terry Kaminski is facing candidates Joseph Richardson and Christopher Chai for Yelm City Council Position No. 7 in the August primary election.

Kaminski, 64, has no political affiliation. She is a real estate managing broker with a bilingual bachelor’s of arts degree. A mother of one, she is seeking reelection for Yelm City Council.

Richardson, 38, is an associate pastor and administrative assistant for an insurance company with a Yelm High School education and minister’s certification. Married and father to one, he has held no public office, but noted he is the Yelm Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors president elect, a member of the Yelm Police Department’s Independent Investigation Team and the committee chair for Young Life Highway 507.

Chai, 37, has no stated political affiliation. He has been a mental health professional and consultant, and is a Los Angeles Police Department graduate, among other occupations. The father of three children, he has held no previous public office.

Kaminski said that after holding public office, she is ready for another term.

“The past four years working with Mayor Foster and the current council members have been a richly rewarding experience and I feel I have only just started,” she said. “Also, this next term will bring many new faces to the team and I would like to provide some continuity to the council to help this transition. It has been, and would be, an honor to continue to represent Yelm.”

Richardson said he is running for council because he believes the community needs good options, something he believes to be the case for this election.

“This year, I must say, we’ve had a great turn out,” he said. “I know Terry Kaminski. She is fantastic. And, after reading Christopher Chai’s bio, I was blown away by his experience. To be honest, I might vote for one of those two. Yelm wins when we provide our best options. I am happy to have my name stand with such fine candidates.”

Chai said he is running for council because he wants to “focus on the ‘how’ and ‘why.’” He plans on “finding ways to contribute and advocate on issues like civil rights, mental health, health care access and affordability, student-teacher ratio in public schools, sustainable environmental protection laws, health and welfare of our children and elderly, infrastructure (better roads and traffic flow), supporting first responders and health care workers and community cohesion and development.”

Kaminski said her platform includes the completion of current projects within Yelm, the rejuvenation of the central business district and the facilitation of the return of live theater in Yelm.

The current projects Kaminski wants to see completed include “upgrades to the Water Reclamation Facility, the phase two of the Yelm bypass, the extension of the prairie trail system, the opening of the two new schools, and the possible acquiring (and) developing of property for Yelm’s future generations.”

Richardson said he would like to “help the city (flourish) and grow in unity by developing continuity and transparency between community and government; increase awareness of community volunteer opportunities and involvement; and create and support well-managed activities for our local youth.”

Chai said he would focus on social justice and human relationships, water and growth management.

“‘Social justice’ and ‘human relationships’ are two of the ethical principles based on social work core values I cherish,” he said. “Social justice is an action taken on ‘behalf of vulnerable’ population. And ‘human relationships’ is a process in which we embrace individual’s self-worth and value relationship(s) with others. As a city council member, I will ensure these principles are upheld and implemented.”

He said “water is more precious than oil” and he noted he would work to support the local ecosystem.

Finally, Chai said growth should be managed on the basis of quality, not quantity.

Kaminski said moving to Yelm many years ago has been a revelation.

“I am a big city girl that has given her heart to this little prairie town,” she said. “I love the mix of international cultures and personable people that have a sincere passion for their city. Yelm, to me, is simply home.”

Richardson said the community has become his family.

“I grew up here and graduated from Yelm High School,” he said. “I feel such a connection with our community and the people who reside here who actually make the city what it is,” he said. “It feels a lot like family. It has been my pleasure to be a pastor in this community for over 15 years. I see firsthand the needs of families and feel like I have vision and a voice for moving us forward together.”

Chai said the community has untapped potential while detailing its quality.

“There is no excuses why our city can’t be the most desired city in Washington,” he said, adding that it can become and continue to be “a friendly and welcoming community with (a) top ranking public education system, thriving small businesses attracting customers outside of Yelm residents, robust indoor recreational centers accessible throughout the year for kids, teens, families and elderly.”

Positions up for election with more than two contenders will be on the primary ballot, which were mailed out on July 14.

The top two will move onto the general election in November.

The state has also mailed out voter’s pamphlets with more information on the candidates.


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