Toward the end of Thursday night’s council meeting, Lacey City Councilman Michael Steadman announced he needed to take a stand against bullying.
“I tell my kids every day and encourage everybody to stand up to bullies,” Steadman said during a portion of the meeting when council members report on their various intergovernmental duties.
“It doesn’t matter the timing, or the situation, you stand up to them,” said Steadman, who then explained his sudden announcement.
“This whole meeting tonight there’s been a gentleman taking pictures of me, laughing, trying to provoke and taunt me,” he said. “For whatever reason, it’s not right. People like that need to be exposed.”
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He then turned to the man in the audience.
“You’re welcome to take all the pictures you like and laugh, because you have been doing it all night,” Steadman said.
He then said he wasn’t in a position to give his usual intergovernmental reports.
After Steadman’s comments, Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder quickly adjourned the meeting.
The man in the audience was Terry Ballard of Olympia, who acknowledged he was taking pictures during the meeting — but of the council, not just Steadman.
Ballard, who said he served more than 35 years in the Army, was in attendance Thursday night because he said he takes issue with two statements Steadman made in the Thurston County voter’s guide when he ran for Lacey City Council against then-incumbent Ron Lawson in 2013.
Steadman said in the guide that he had lived in the area for more than 20 years. Ballard, based on his own research, said Steadman has lived in Lacey only since 2005.
Steadman also said in the guide that he has a “career of military service,” but Ballard said Steadman served only eight years in the Marines.
A reporter caught up with a visibly agitated Steadman in the parking lot after the meeting. He defended his residency status and military career.
“You can’t tell me I didn’t serve my country,” he said.
Steadman said the real issue is the city’s plastic bag ban.
Ballard, he said, was part of a group that was willing to privately fund putting the bag ban before Lacey voters. At the time, Steadman appeared willing to support that effort if it didn’t involve city money. In the end, though, he voted to uphold the bag ban that has been in effect since 2014.
Ballard hasn’t left him alone since, Steadman said. He accused Ballard of harassment and bullying, saying Ballard has visited his home and his tenants. Steadman is a commercial real estate developer.
Steadman said he has talked to City Attorney Dave Schneider about the possibility of a no-contact order.
“No one deserves to be harassed and bullied,” Steadman said.