SEQUIM — Sequim City Council member Pam Leonard-Ray has announced she’s putting family first and stepping down from office effective later this month.
Her plan, she told City Council members and staff Monday, is to move with her husband, Bernard “Buddy” Ray, to be with her parents who are in their 80s living in Carson City, Nev.
“It’s a very long way for me to travel to help them out, so my husband and I decided [to move from] what we thought would be our forever home in Sequim and move to a place that is nowhere near and dear to us,” she said.
Her last City Council meeting is set for May 29, and she plans to move in late June, she said.
“I’m sorry I will not be able to continue something I have found I have a great love for,” she told other members of the council Monday.
Leonard-Ray and her husband moved to Sequim in 2013 from Charleston, S.C., where she lived for more than 30 years. Leonard-Ray said her husband moved here in February of that year, and she moved the day after she retired that June as an academic dean in the tutoring and remedial areas at Trident Technical College.
She’s originally from Washington state and graduated from Mead High School in Spokane before earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Washington State University. She later earned a master’s in education clinical counseling from The Citadel in Charleston.
In Sequim, she served as executive director of Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic in Sequim, and as volunteer coordinator for the city of Sequim.
She ran for City Council seat No. 1 in the November 2015 general election, defeating Brandon Janisse, who was elected last November to City Council. She served as the City Council’s liaison to the city Arts Advisory Commission.
She said when she ran for office she answered questions affirming that she didn’t see anything hindering her from serving her term, which expires in December 2019. However, she visited her parents in April and began looking for a home and the possibility of moving has been in her mind because her mother has macular degeneration and father has glaucoma.
The council members have 90 days to appoint a replacement for Leonard-Ray.
Candidates will interview in the coming months to serve out the remainder of Leonard-Ray’s term through 2019.
She encouraged people living in city limits to vie for her council seat.
“I did not get involved with this because I agreed with everything that was going on in the city, and I certainly think there are other people who have a love for the city of Sequim,” she said.
“Please run for office whether you agree or don’t agree. Attend meetings. This is your city. It belongs to the residents. Step up.”
“We’re sorry to see you go,” Mayor Dennis Smith said.
“We’re going to miss you,” Councilman Bob Lake said.
During her tenure, Leonard-Ray said she’s “proud I brought a different perspective and that I questioned things.”
“I’m glad I put a focus on affordable housing to clarify that it’s different from homelessness, too,” she said.
For more information on the vacant council seat, contact City Clerk Karen Kuznek-Reese at [email protected] or 360-683-4139.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].