Town where you live
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I am completing my first term on the Anacortes City Council, Position 6. I have taken an active role in my committee positions serving on Public Works, Public Safety, Parks and Recreation, and recently created a new area of focus- Affordable Housing and Community Resources.
We have a lot of ongoing maintenance issues facing our city's infrastructure. This council has taken a hard look and implemented new rate structures based on changing the financing model for the utilities: instead of waiting for a failure in any system we are proactively planning for and building our capital reserve to better maintain our water, storm, solid waste, and roadway integrity. We are also making sure to incorporate best available science on the effects of a changing climate on our infrastructure.
Additionally, we are making a concerted effort to make our town more bike and pedestrian friendly and creating planning strategies to improve connectivity and make it easier for people to get around without having to get in their cars.
I am in full support of a Permanent Supportive Housing model to respond to homelessness. The data is in: it is not only more humane and better for public health to house people in need but it is also more cost-effective. Skagit County is making a serious effort to create more PSH opportunities and I would like to see Anacortes find a place for such a facility in town.
Also, our police officers are trained to be sensitive to the needs and behavioral health issues around homelessness. They have meal vouchers and information linking people to services at the ready.
We are working on the Affordable Housing and Community Resources committee to create a local Resource Center for Anacortes. This could potentially house DSHS, Community Action, and other providers to assist community members in getting the assistance they need without the transportation hurdles of getting to Mt. Vernon.
We have a larger-than-average proportion of people living in Anacortes that are 65 and better. We have a fantastic Senior Activity Center in Anacortes that has recently transferred from County to City management- a move that makes it easier for us to provide better services and programming to our seniors. I was honored to participate in the Strategic Planning for the Center where we could discuss the climate for funding, vision, and mission. We have a critical need for nutrition programs, health and wellness information, financial advice, and more to help with the isolation that can happen to many seniors.
I am committed to the ongoing funding of these programs, to helping people age in place, and to exploring options for creating more affordable senior housing in Anacortes.
With my work on the Public Safety committee, this is an issue I have spent a good deal of time on. It is my opinion that a person's immigration status is not a concern for local law enforcement outside of whether or not a person has committed a crime. Skagit County already complies with ICE when a person has been detained for criminal activity. However, every person has the right to the protection of due process that our Constitution guarantees regardless of immigration status.
We need to create a safe and humane path to citizenship and to consider the protection of the family unit. Immigrants provide a critical sector of our workforce, pay taxes, and are an important part of the fabric of our community. "Illegal Immigrant" is a misnomer as it is not a crime but rather a misdemeanor and should be treated as such.
We have a lot of work to do on housing affordability in Anacortes. I worked this year on co-authoring an Affordable Housing Strategic Plan to integrate with our upcoming Development Regulation update that was mandated by our 2016 Comprehensive Plan. Our quality of life here in Anacortes and the cost of raw land make affordability a real challenge for us. We are looking at many ideas such as reduced impact fees, inclusionary development, density bonuses, and creative co-housing programs to deal with this complicated issue.
We also have issues surrounding economic and workforce development and retention, long-term water planning, and ongoing funding for infrastructure and parks.
Definitely housing affordability. We have a massive shortage of available units and need to get to work on creating more housing opportunities for our residents.
I meet weekly with the Mayor to talk about both shared and individual initiatives and the work ahead. I have co-sponsored resolutions in the past to bring before Council and our Mayor respects the difference between the legislative and executive branches of government. In return, we respect her position and guidance on these issues. I think we have a fantastic working relationship that keeps the needs of the citizens of Anacortes at the fore and never on personal agenda.