A strategy begins by connecting good ideas

Olympia Mayoral Candidate Nathaniel Jones is calling for a set of actions to boldly reduce homelessness.  He says that current response efforts are weak and inadequate, and are not making progress against homelessness.  These views align with those of Congressman Denny Heck, who recently commented on homelessness by saying, “Regardless of your political views, we must face the facts, what we are doing is not working.'' New direction is needed if we expect to respond effectively.  

Jones has produced a set of action plans to reduce the growing number of homeless people and families in our community. He has drawn upon the successful experience of towns around the country to propose a series of new strategies- because what we’ve been doing is simply not working.  These strategies, along with a new regional mitigation site, set a new direction for ending homelessness as we know it.

Last week Jones committed to Olympia joining the Built for Zero’ movement, which is transforming communities around the country and actually ending chronic homelessness. “The current lack of coordination and performance measures in local services needs to be addressed. Built for Zero,” says Jones, “Is exactly what we need.  I strongly advocate for this model because it will bring results.”

After learning of the State’s first Safe Station for opioid treatment, Jones found wide support for a low-cost approach to expand access to treatment.  Substance abuse is just one of the many causes of homelessness. “With greater access to outpatient treatment, we can achieve real results,” Jones said.

Generally, we pay for a product or service when it is delivered.  But our current homeless response services do not operate this way. Paying for Success just makes sense- This week, Jones announced support for a 2020 pilot project to invest in organizations that can achieve specific outcomes - moving people from homelessness into housing.  Instead of paying for a set of services, we pay for results.

Some suggest that outreach to homeless people is best achieved with a police presence.  This is just not the case. Our neighbors without homes often live in fear of being discovered, evicted, or worse. Authority-based outreach doesn’t work to foster a positive connection and move people back into the community.  Reaching people where they are, and eliminating fear, will work. In the past, Olympia’s outreach workers paved the way for this. “Now we must support ‘Alternative Outreach’ as our most effective tool, says Jones.  

Finally, Nathaniel Jones recognizes a simple fact-  Winter is coming. We have less shelter beds in place now than one year ago. Proposed renovations and expansions have not happened, resulting in significant reductions.  We have less beds available, and many more people in need. We must act now to partner and open a daytime warming center before winter arrives.  Jones says, “These cost-effective actions will turn the tide on homelessness.  Innovation and building on the success of others will deliver an effective response.  Our current direction is more-of-the-same. These strategies bring accountability and clear focus to the single largest problem facing our community.”

A Living Wage is a Fundamental Right. A Regular Schedule is Essential for Quality of Life.

On Wages, Nathaniel Jones says, “As mayor of Olympia, I will do everything in my power to make Olympia’s minimum wage $15.00 by January 1, 2021. For all workers, period.” If this can be done statewide, by working with other Washington cities in the 2020 legislative session, great. If it can be done by partnering in a county-wide approach, outstanding. But if Olympia must go alone, then Jones will introduce legislation to raise the local minimum wage to $15.00 by January 1, 2021.

Across the country, 28 million workers are working for a minimum wage. About 25% of them are teens. Most are women. And nearly 30% of them are raising a family. Because of the negative impact of low wages on the local economy, 46 local governments have implemented minimum wage laws. Extensive analysis has shown that higher minimum wages do not reduce employment.  This is the case in Seattle and Tacoma, and across the United States.

In Olympia, many jobs are part-time. To make ends meet, workers take on more than one job. Many employers are fantastic and accommodating, making schedules work for employees and for business. Other employers, however, offer short notice on shift changes- this makes working a second job nearly impossible. This is harmful to workers, to productivity, and to families. It must stop. “I will join with others to lobby the legislature in 2020,” says Jones, “Pushing to enact predictive scheduling Statewide. If we do not succeed, I will introduce legislation to be adopted locally.” Our workers deserve better.

“With a commitment to predictive schedules and a $15 an hour baseline, we go a long way toward supporting our economy’s most precious resource, our workers,” says Jones. “We must move forward to address economic insecurity now.”

Olympia is the Regional Center for Arts & Culture -- Ushering in a new Renaissance

It’s about Enhancement and Investment-

Busking.jpgGreat Cities, that draw talented workers, all have something in common- a strong commitment to Culture and the Arts. We need more arts and entertainment venues, both Downtown and elsewhere. The City has a variety of tools to encourage this type of development and build upon Olympia’s adopted Downtown Strategy. Let’s use these tools to create the City we want.

Let’s expand support for existing cultural events, AND add new events and
festivals to the annual calendar. An artful community cannot help but be full of the Arts.

It’s about Preservation -

Capitol_Theater.jpgA century ago, our community built three great performance spaces. We lost the Liberty- but gained the Washington Center in its place. The other two historic theaters- the Capitol and the State- still stand, operated by local non-profits. The City has a clear role of partnering with these non-profits to ensure these precious assets are maintained, enhanced, and stay available to the public long into the future.

So much of our local culture is tied to our historic sites. We must do more, investing tangible resources, into historic and cultural preservation. No, it’s not cheap. Nor is it simple. But it is worth doing.

It’s about the Cultural District -

Squaxin_art.jpgThis year, Olympia was the 3rd “creative district” recognized by the state. We have something special here. And now we need to think big. Special cultural districts work in other cities, and we can do this in Olympia. Here’s what they say about Cultural Districts in Louisiana:

Cultural Districts grow local economies, create an enhanced sense of place, and deepen our cultural capacity. The program enlivens places by fueling creative activities, artisan production, and the educational aspects of arts and culture.

Within locally designated districts, one-of-a-kind works of art are exempt from state and local sales tax. Cultural Districts succeed best when local governments work with neighborhoods, artists, businesses, and citizens to make places better.

support_local_art.jpgYes, original works of art sold within the District are exempt from state and local sales tax. And it would take new State legislation to authorize this. Who better than the Capital City, to propose such an idea? And what better neighborhood to pilot such a project than Downtown Olympia, already home to many owner-operated galleries? The tax exempt district can only enhance a local economy by focusing on creative activities, artisan production, and unique products that are less likely to be purchased online. Let’s get this done.

It’s about Education -

Armory.jpgThe 2004 Parks Plan called for a community arts center and gallery. Today, the need is greater than ever. There is growing demand for additional classes, but no available classroom or workshop spaces.

A Center for the Arts and Humanities is essential to retain Olympia’s cultural focus. The historic National Guard Armory on Eastside Street is being decommissioned. With City and the Community support, we can secure this historic property and create a vibrant Center for the Arts and Humanities, filling an essential community need.

It is time to stop putting an Arts & Cultural Center into our plans and then forgetting about it until years later. It is time to invest in the Arts and Culture of Olympia. Let’s get serious and acquire and redevelop this historic gem.

It’s About Access -

Cultural Access is a sales tax measure jurisdictions can use to support education and arts and culture in a community. I support working with our community partners and the school district to get cultural access successfully approved by the voters by 2021.

A Vibrant Arts & Cultural Community 

Starts with Community Investments-

Let’s do this, together.

Jones & Cooper Commit to Big Structural Change

Jim Cooper & Nathaniel Jones, Olympia’s longest serving councilmembers, say it is past time for Olympia to consider fundamental changes to city government.  

Thirty-seven years ago, in 1982, Olympians voted to change from a 3 member City Commission to a 7 member Council-Manager form of government. The hot, new technology was the fax machine.  Before the internet...and way before mobile phones. John Spellman was Governor. Rents were about $300. Back in the day, Olympia was an up-and-coming little city, about the size of present-day Issaquah.

Does Olympia want an appointed City Manager, or should we elect a strong Mayor? Should each Councilmember be elected by the whole city, or should we create districts for better representation? Should the City Prosecutor be elected or appointed? How many Councilmembers should there be? Is there a better way?

All of these questions are prime for a community conversation. The time is now. In this age of instant communication, our citizens feel unheard -- our city government feels removed from the people. We must do better, and improving how our government works is the key to a functional democracy.

To that end, Cooper & Jones ask that an interim City Manager be named, but we not move forward with a replacement process until the council and community have done their due diligence by answering these basic questions. The citizens of Olympia deserve an opportunity to determine the future of their government.

Big, structural change begins right here in Olympia. The time is now.

Council Stops Camp Sweep

This week a large majority of the city council supported Nathaniel's efforts to stop the camp sweep under the 4th AVE Bridge. Here is a great article about the meeting from KNKX News and here is another from the Olympian.  

Here is a short clip of Nathaniel's comments at the meeting. Please find more clips on our Facebook Page

Jones opposes the scheduled closure of the 4th Avenue Bridge Camp

Olympia City Councilmember Nathaniel Jones has announced opposition to the proposed September 11 closure of a homeless encampment under the 4th Avenue Bridge.  Jones, who has supported the closure of other downtown camps, says that the proposed clearance is counterproductive and in violation of the City’s objectives.  He says that the closure will push campers onto downtown streets and into neighborhood greenbelts.

The encampment of about 30 individuals formed under the bridge in January.  At the time, City officials expressed confidence that the bridge camp would close quickly, after approved alternatives were opened.  The City has met obstacles in implementing that plan and is now proposing to move the campers out into the community.

Jones says, “The planned closure just pushes people around, rather than managing a bad situation. It takes Olympia back to ‘Whack-a-Mole’ enforcement. There’s no improvement, just repeated scuffles and police action.” Jones says he wants the camp closed as quickly as possible through an effective response.

The City Council announced new approaches to managing the growing homeless crisis in May 2018 and declared a homeless emergency in July 2018. The City’s actions have met with contentious opposition from some business interests and have found limited success. Homelessness and related impacts remain the top concern of community members.

No approved alternatives have been identified for the individuals in the camp.  No additional mitigation sites. No expanded Salvation Army shelter. No warming center.  “Until viable alternatives are identified,” Jones says, “We cannot just keep pushing them around.  The cycle must end.”

Councilmember Jones will be introducing a proposal to the City Council on Tuesday, September 10th, to pause this enforcement action until viable options are implemented.

4th Avenue Bridge

I hope you will take a listen, this issue is important to me, and to our community.

Onward to November

Onward to November

August 21, 2019

Olympia’s primary election has been certified and Nathaniel Jones is moving forward to face the incumbent in November’s General Election.

The primary is settled and I am excited to carry this campaign on to November, sharing an expanded vision with the community. Through this campaign I have met with thousands of Olympians, and I have learned from each one.

The Jones campaign offers a heartfelt thanks to Phil Cornell, Brenden Clerget, and David Ross.  They made a huge commitment by running, and we are better for it. These candidates offered some excellent ideas.  The primary election results confirm that the community is looking for a new direction and action that will address Olympia’s significant challenges.

In forums, on the streets, and at many front doors, I have spent these last months listening.  And I have heard you. In response to the voters’ input, I am launching a series of expanded initiatives, some bold and some audacious.  I will be laying out a new path for our community, and I hope you will join in the conversation.  

I ask you to listen.  I ask you to speak. I ask you to dialogue with us.  And, I ask you to vote for Jones in November.


Impacting Homelessness

This is a summary of Nathaniel's thoughts on impacting homelessness, read his full proposals here

tiny_homes.jpgOlympia’s voters have made it clear they want the city to act to relieve the plight of vulnerable people and the effects of homelessness on our city. As Mayor, I will lead a firm but compassionate effort to move people from the street into homes and transform downtown Olympia into a safe and inviting activity center.

Read more

Climate Disruption, Sea Level Rise & Our Children

This is a summary of Nathaniel's thoughts on climate change, read his full proposals here

Policy Statement #4 – July 11, 2019


Climate change is upon us as we witness strange weather events, changes in habitat, and the rapid loss of polar ice, glaciers, and coastal communities.   Olympia faces tidal flooding, winter river floods, respiratory diseases, invasive plants, animals and microbes, and an influx of climate refugees. Wildfires, ocean acidification, species migration, flooding and drought threaten our way of life, our economy, and our prospects for the future. 


Read more