Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
For the last 17 years I have been working with governments, NGOs, and citizen groups to facilitate discussion towards common sense solutions. I understand how government works and where others must fill in the gaps. My family has invested much time into giving back to this wonderful community.
Mount Vernon residents have been carefully investing in our infrastructure to provide for our future, including recently establishing a Transportation Benefit District as well as 100 year flood protection in our historic downtown. However, additional challenges remain with respect to Fire Station #1, parking downtown, flood reduction measures, sewer infrastructure, and the library, to name some of the more important issues. Additionally, challenges for the future include increased pattern of rainfall from climate change which will impact the capacity of our stormwater system and flood reduction infrastructure.
Homelessness is a regional problem with many causes. We need to continue to work closely with county and state governments as well as non-governmental organizations to address the root causes. These include housing availability, substance abuse and addiction, mental health, and limited workforce training opportunities. I have a 7-point plan to tackle housing, which unfortunately has not received the priority that it deserves in Mount Vernon (see more below). The public health crises of addiction and mental health must be tackled by a robust network of organizations that are well coordinated and integrated into other public services. Our county’s point of entry is Skagit Community Action who I would pledge to work directly with to expand and improve the services they and our partners offer. Continuing to improve training and programs available to our police force will also help us manage this problem to divert homeless away from the legal system, since homelessness is not a crime.
Senior citizens are the reason we have a great country since that generation safeguarded us from fasism and communism and carefully developed and nurtured our middle class, making us the most productive and wealthy country in history. We owe them our thanks and support and I would commit to honoring that whether elected or not. Mount Vernon supports several programs for senior citizens, including donations to the Mount Vernon Senior Citizens Center, but I believe we can and should do more to ensure no senior goes hungry, or without social services or the nurturing environment necessary to maintain physical and emotional health.
Immigration is a federal issue and as such I believe city government and the police department have been very proactive and communicative in declaring our intention to treat all of our residents with the respect and due process they deserve. We essentially manage as if this was a sanctuary city but have not gone to the additional step of calling it a sanctuary city. I’m interested in understanding more on this issue, but I don’t currently believe that is a necessary declaration. However, I think it is incumbent on us to reach out as residents, neighbors, organizations, and government to ensure everyone feels safe and welcome. I believe we should update our public participation plan to consider recent significant changes in our demographics and technology.
Affordable and available housing for all of our residents; modest economic development via commercial and industrial enterprise; diminished downtown improvements such as parking and connectivity; limited public services for health, safety & welfare of our residents; and homelessness and related public health crises.
Many of these issues are highly interrelated. We must increase our tax base by expanding economic opportunity, particularly downtown with redevelopment. We should marry this with expanded mixed-income housing to bring people and vibrancy down to a unique and compelling city center.
Since financial resources are limited, we must ensure we have partnered with other governments and NGOs to create efficiencies so we can deliver expanded public services via police, fire, ambulance, social services, and libraries to name a few.
Housing in Skagit County and Mount Vernon is not available or affordable, and this issue affects not just homeless but all of our citizens from our children to the blue collar workers we need to prosper. I have a 7-point plan to immediately ramp up construction, including updating development regulations and zoning to be consistent with the 2016 Comprehensive Plan, and specifically utilizing a stakeholder advisory group in the process; adopting a new South Kincaid Sub-area Plan to increase housing density in downtown; incorporating housing into our Public/Private Partnership initiative downtown; reviewing the backlog of comp plan amendments proposed to the City; implementing a 5 year program to offset impact fees to incentivize multi-family housing development; starting a city-led conversation with our residents and NGO partners about how to increase low barrier housing; and construction of a new permanent supportive housing facility in north Mount Vernon.
I have a good relationship with the mayor, councilors, and department heads, which I would work hard to maintain and continue to improve. Everyone is working hard to improve Mount Vernon, and so while we may sometimes agree to disagree, we should all keep in mind that our job is to do the most good for the most residents we can. It’s not about us individually.
My method of operation, built on my skill set, is to bring people together, to listen actively, to facilitate discussion, to communicate clearly, to forge consensus, and to act decisively when we have common agreement. I will pledge to work with our peers and neighbors to move Mount Vernon forward.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
26 successful years in business, 15 years city council experience, 34 years local community service, on many boards, committees and projects
Infrastructure has always been a high priority with the Mount Vernon City Council, upgrading and expanding the sewer plant, lining old sewer pipes, have dedicated resources to street maintenance for many years, including handicap sidewalks
Mount Vernon, in conjunction with Skagit County, has hired an Embedded Social Worker to communicate and work with the homelessness, making them aware of important services available to them. Each year Mount Vernon's budget shares revenues with the Friendship House and Community Action.
Skagit County has strong programs available to seniors, including the Senior Center and delivered lunches to their home
Mount Vernon Police works with Skagit County Sheriffs Department and the State of Washington on immigration issues
Jobs and job development could make a significant difference in dealing with the homeless and affordable housing issue. The city owns valuable property that should be sold to commercial investors who then could develop it for expansion of the commercial base. It would provide jobs and a higher property tax base for the city, which would keep the city from needing to raise property taxes.
Jobs and job development
Mount Vernon City Council has weekly departmental committee meetings which the mayor attends and discussion is had