Lacey Councilman Michael Steadman: ‘I had every right to get angry’

Steadman. Staff file, 2011

A failed rival says he has been the target of angry text messages from Lacy City Councilman Michael Steadman, and is calling for Steadman to resign or be disciplined.

Former council candidate Jacob Vaughan, who has criticized Steadman on Facebook, said he has received abusive messages from the councilman calling him “a coward” and appearing to threaten him with harm.

Vaughan shared the text messages with The Olympian and spoke to a reporter. Among the texts:

▪  “We both know you’d get your ass handed to you in front of God and everyone.”

▪  “You’re not worth a quart of piss.”

▪  “Coward, steer clear of me and I’ll do the same, if not, then you’ve been warned!”

Steadman last month reached out to The Olympian about his background after it was questioned by a council meeting audience member. Steadman, at the time, referred to that person as a “bully.”

After the story was published, Vaughan, a Lacey resident and former council candidate, posted it on his Facebook page, wondering how Steadman, a former Marine, could possibly feel bullied.

“I’ve never heard of a Marine getting bullied by anyone,” Vaughan said in his Facebook post. “Every Marine I know who is honorable and honest would handle this without the press.”

That unleashed a torrent of angry text messages from Steadman to Vaughan.

Vaughan said his cell phone number is a matter of public record because it was included in state Public Disclosure Commission filings when he ran for council in 2013. Vaughan didn’t advance past the primary. Steadman then defeated Ron Lawson in the general election.

Vaughan said this week that Steadman’s behavior was unacceptable for a public servant. He should either resign, or there should be some sort of public recognition that his behavior is not acceptable, he said.

Vaughan said he shared his concerns with the council and the mayor, but only Councilman Lenny Greenstein responded, saying the council would look into it.

After Thursday night’s council meeting, Steadman said he had every right to get angry — and it wasn’t about Vaughan’s Facebook post.

He said his daughter attends a dance class with Vaughan’s children. Steadman claims that Vaughan made his 12-year-old daughter feel uncomfortable at the class, so Steadman responded angrily. One of his text messages to Vaughan references the dance class:

“Now all of dance knows about your BS! Cowardly BS. You’re a joke!”

Steadman also said that Vaughan is part of the same plastic bag ban group that has criticized him since he decided to uphold the city’s ban.

Vaughan denied the allegation about the dance class and said he has had nothing to do with the bag ban group, although he acknowledged meeting Justin Kover when he ran for office. Kover is the former chairman of a political action committee whose members were willing to spend private money to put the bag ban on the ballot. The group thought they had won support for their effort from Steadman but he voted to uphold the ban.

Steadman said he has won support from Lacey residents for sticking up for himself. But there are others who say he should be willing to accept the criticism as a public official. He disagrees.

“I’m a human being, too,” he said Thursday night. “It’s not an excuse to abuse someone.”