Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
One term (4 years) as a council member, two terms (2 years) as Fircrest delegate to the Pierce County Regional Council (2016- present), and 3 additional years as a Fircrest Parks Department lifeguard and swim teacher.
The greatest issue surrounding Fircrest's infrastructure is deferred maintenance. With the decision made by Washington State lawmakers to eliminate the Public Works Trust Fund in the most recent budget, small cities and towns have been particularly pained by funding shortfalls. As a bedroom community, Fircrest's main source of revenue is property tax, increases to which are capped at a fixed percentage per year. These per annum increases have been insufficient to keep pace with rising inflation, the rate of which exceeds the capped allowance. This deferred maintenance problem recently led to the controversial (and split) decision to increase utility rates to cover needed repairs and ongoing maintenance costs. My plan as your public servant would be a multi-approach strategy: 1) continue to lobby the state government for the reinstatement of the Public Works Trust Fund; 2) focus on economic development and the attraction of new business; 3) be a responsible steward of ratepayer funds.
Fircrest can respond to homelessness proactively by being aware of community resources and forging strong community relationships with our neighboring cities and towns to respond to this issue in a coordinated way. Homelessness is a complex problem that spans many areas: financial, social, public health, etc. Because it is not as simple as providing homes for people, but rather typically necessitates substance abuse cessation efforts, mental health and behavioral intervention, domestic violence outreach, help in job searching and organization skills, or some mix of these and others, it is incredibly difficult to address, and truly demands a coordinated and energetic effort between cities and officials. De-stigmatizing homelessness and making people more comfortable with seeking early help will also do a lot to ameliorate the problem, as it is (financially) much easier to give subsidies to prevent homelessness than it is to pull a person already in the situation out.
Fircrest has a large population of senior citizens, proportionally, compared with many cities in the area. It is important to recognize that seniors frequently live on fixed incomes and therefore can tend to be more sensitive to increasing costs and taxes. My priority remains, and has always been, responsible stewardship of taxpayer resources, so that the most financially vulnerable among us (including senior citizens, the young, differently-abled persons, etc.) are still able to enjoy the quality of life and community inclusion and engagement that they have been able to previously. This means that I have made a commitment to maintaining the resources in Fircrest that are allocated for seniors (such as the Senior Room at the Recreation Center) and keeping utility rates as low as sustainable.
I would advocate for an approach of consulting with the City's legal resources, as the City has a dedicated City Attorney to advise in legal matters. However, it is my personal opinion that the City does not currently have the financial resources to address illegal immigration (for which federal immigration enforcement agencies exist and are funded), and that the City's finite resources would be better used for serving all Fircrest citizens in crime prevention as intended.
Fircrest has a near-empty business corridor that has, for some time, been failing to attract new businesses at the same rate as adjacent cities. In order to increase revenues, the City should focus on economic development. At the time of writing this, the City is currently in the candidate recruitment process for a new permanent city manager. It is my belief that the new city manager should have a strong focus toward increasing revenues, which could include branding and marketing efforts, outreaching to potential businesses, and other ideas.
Economic development is the most urgent matter the city faces, in organizing a plan for our long-term financial future.
I believe in a transparent and organized management style. Working with the Chief Administrator (city manager) is the Council's only input into the day-to-day operations of the city, so it is vitally important to stay up on what current challenges the city is facing. A great way to accomplish this is to have regular check-ins, by phone or in person, with the Chief Administrator, outside of just the regular business council meetings and study sessions. In the past it has been my routine to call the Chief Administrator during the week to ask questions on draft bills or policy proposals, and to study the material before voting, but also to inquire about any issues s/he may have learned about with facilities or staff in the past week. Then we may have a face-to-face meeting for an hour or two to troubleshoot potential solutions if there is a substantially complex issue (maybe once every few months). This way we maintain a close working relationship and open dialogue.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
No elected experience
The City of Fircrest is in desperate need of addressing the issues around our unacceptable pool and outdated rec center. Both the pool and rec center are very meaningful and quintessential assets to our community and its residents. The current pool is over 50 years old and is dilapidated and in need of complete replacement. During this season alone, the pool was losing thousands of gallons of highly chlorinated water per day. That water is going into the ground and potentially into our water supply and/or contributing to resident flooding problems. This is unacceptable.
We also need to re-evaluate our Parks spaces to ensure we are adequately serving the needs and wishes of our residents. The City has unused land space that has been sitting empty for many years as well as outdated park space that is in need of refreshing. Providing these spaces with some much-needed renovation could ensure maximum community usage and enhance our social fabric.
The experience of homelessness is a deeply complex issue that requires dedicated education and resources. I believe Fircrest could work on educating first responders and city personnel on engagement and referral to resources for individuals experiencing homelessness. Understanding how barriers such as mental health issues, access to healthcare, substance use, joblessness, and lack of secured housing, access to transportation and access to food would allow first responders to engage individuals experiencing homelessness from a compassionate and helpful place rather than from a public nuisance view. I would encourage relationships with organizations in Pierce County that work with this population. As a committee member of the Pierce County Committee to End Youth and Family Homelessness, I understand that it takes a mountain of resources to provide services to this population and it all starts with education and networking.
I am deeply committed to advocating for the rights and protections of our aging residents. As a Hospice Social Worker, I am impassioned to ensure the rights and dignity of our aging community. Our seniors need to be and feel supported in their communities. One way Fircrest can support healthy aging is by ensuring our seniors and those on fixed incomes are considered when raising taxes and or fees.
Another way I would ensure Fircrest is supporting our senior community is through enhancing our infrastructure. Making sure we have safe, walkable streets and assistive device friendly curb-cuts would be a key investment in the health and safety of our aging residents. Finally, I would work diligently to ensure emergency services and first responders are at the forefront of receiving adequate funding. These services are a key lifeline in responding to the needs of our aging residents.
I believe that Fircrest should take a more progressive stance on immigration issues and position itself as a welcoming city. Our local police should not be handing people over to ICE or checking immigration status of people they encounter while on duty. I fully support a commitment to ensuring our schools maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all students, regardless of status. This includes the schools that fall within the City of Fircrest as part of Tacoma Public Schools. My goal as a Council member is to make Fircrest a safe and welcoming city for all and to ensure that all individuals feel safe, welcome and validated as Fircrest residents.
Other major issues that I see Fircrest facing are our current lack of economic growth, and a lack of volunteer citizen acknowledgement. Fircrest is a small City with opportunity for business to move in and contribute to the growth and innovation to the local economy. Thriving businesses in Fircrest that generate high levels of revenue lead to greater business and local tax that then go right back into our City.
The City of Fircrest thrives from the commitment and hard work of its volunteers. We are a passionate and dedicated group of citizens that want to actively make our community a better place to live. It is time to use the resources, wisdom and skills that our residents hold and create youth and senior lead councils to advise city members on the issues that are impacting our community. We also need to validate the service that our community volunteers provide by creating a Volunteer of the Year award and scholarship opportunities for recognition of their outstanding service.
Although these are all urgent issues, I believe that the most urgent of these issues facing the City of Fircrest, is providing our senior residents with the resources and opportunity to age in place. As a society we unfortunately fall short when it comes to providing for our aging population. These are the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and friends that have paved the way for us and deserve to have their voices and needs heard. I will work to ensure our City dedicates local resources for this population as well as work against tax/utility increases that ultimately hurt those on a fixed income. As a Council member, it will be my deepest valued work to advocate for the rights of our aging population.
It is my belief that in order to uphold the values of the office of City Council, a Council Member must exemplify integrity, passion and a commitment to working for the betterment of the City of Fircrest. As a Council member I will work tirelessly with fellow Council members, City staff, and fellow residents to ensure that citizens are getting the best services for the money they work so hard for. I will ensure we work together to find a solution to the issues that impact Fircrest and its residents.