Fircrest council loses 2 longtime members

Staff writerNovember 10, 2013 

For the first time in memory, the Fircrest City Council has more newcomers than longtime members – a youth movement, of sorts, that includes a 20-year-old college student who lives at home with her mom.

The change comes after Tuesday’s election, when Kathy McVay lost to Fircrest native Jason Medley after 20 years on the council, while Chris Gruver lost to Pacific Lutheran University student Shannon Reynolds after 12 years in city office.

The loss of two seasoned council veterans continues to shake up the dynamic of the council, which has seen five of its seven members change since 2009. David Goodsell, 36, was appointed in October to serve the remainder of the term of 16-year councilman Robert Thaden, who died in July at age 76.

“This has never occurred. It’s unusual,” Fircrest Mayor David Viafore said.

Viafore has been on the council for 20 years and mayor for 18. McVay was mayor from 2008-2010, becoming the first female mayor in city history.

McVay, 65, was surprised with the results but by Friday had come to terms with them.

“It happened. How it happened, who knows? The voters have spoken and it’s really OK,” she said. “I know I’ve done a lot of good things for the citizens in those 20 years. I can really go out in December feeling good about the time I was there.”

McVay has served on various county boards and commissions, hoping to keep Fircrest and the interests of its 6,500 residents from getting buried by county-level decisions.

“Did I leave Fircrest better than when I found it? I think so,” she said.

She hopes to stay active on county boards that don’t require her to be an elected official and will look for other ways to stay active in Fircrest. She will use her new free time to enjoy her grandsons, she said.

With McVay’s departure, Viafore becomes the longest-standing member on the council followed by Matthew Jolibois, who’s been in office for 12 years. Jolibois was the only challenged incumbent re-elected Tuesday. Denny Waltier ran for re-election unopposed.

Viafore couldn’t pinpoint a single divisive issue that might have prompted voters to oust two long-standing incumbents.

Noting the gap in number of votes cast – Medley was ahead of McVay by 183 votes after Friday’s count, while Reynolds was up 309 votes over Gruver – Medley said the results show voters were ready for a change.

He said when he was doorbelling and meeting people during his campaign, most of them said they were in the mood for change.

“Twenty years is a long time for anybody, anybody to be in office,” said Medley, 44. “It’s not a personal thing. It’s just a long time.”

The race that surprised the most people – including the winner – was the contest between Reynolds and Gruver.

Reynolds, an economics and pre-medicine double major at PLU, ousted the incumbent with minimal campaigning. The 2011 Stadium High School graduate said she spread the word by stopping people on the street and canvassing community events with her family’s help.

Admitting she was the “extreme dark horse” because of her age, Reynolds will use youth to her advantage, she said. Her lack of experience as an elected official means she has a clean slate and will look at things objectively, she said.

Gruver couldn’t be reached for comment.

The two new council members take office in January.

Brynn Grimley: 253-597-8467

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