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I’m a two-term Lacey council member, and Deputy Mayor for the last four years. I hold a MES from TESC. I'm on several non-profit boards. I hold regional, state and national positions that support cities, including LOTT, ORCAA, the Association of Washington Cities, and National League of Cities.
Lacey has over 11,000 septic systems in our city and Urban Growth Area. Septic systems can fail, even when homeowners aren’t aware of the problem, and the nutrient load can endanger our aquifers, the source of Lacey’s potable water supply. The nutrient load from septic systems also impacts Woodland Creek, which eventually reduces water quality in Henderson Inlet, impacting shellfish beds. While we have done a lot to protect Woodland Creek, we still can do better. What we need to do is convert those 11,000 + septic tanks to sewer. However, this is a funding and affordability issue. Many of the septic tanks are in older neighborhoods, having been put in long before Lacey incorporated. Many are owned by fixed or low-income families, making it difficult to pay for sewer conversion. It is also extremely costly for the City to put in the infrastructure (sewer pipes) quickly. This must be a long-term action because of the costs.
Since we have no service providers in Lacey, other than the one we paid to work at our Veteran’s Hub to address veterans’ homelessness, this is a huge problem. The gap we have found is how to address RV homelessness: they have shelter, but it is insufficient given that there is no access to water or sewer or waste collection in RVs that aren’t connected to an RV Park. That, we think is where we might be able to help. We are hoping we can find a solution through what we do have: churches, or other groups willing to “adopt” a family. We could supply the infrastructure needed, such as connections, or at least a port-o-potty and dumpster. This is just something we are still brainstorming. We have also committed to help fund another food bank facility just east of Lacey on Martin way. This will help the both the homeless and those families that do have housing but need food assistance so that they can afford to stay in their homes or rental units.
Lacey has a very large population of senior citizens. In the past four years, we have expanded our senior center, and will probably need to do that again, since the use of our center keeps growing. We also have three major senior living communities: Jubilee, Panorama, and Bonaventure, as well as several smaller 55 and older communities. While we have Intercity Transit to Panorama and Bonaventure, we are trying to have Intercity Transit add a route at least to Jubilee, if not throughout that entire area. I think that is our biggest need, and commitment, right now. We have permitted a large, senior housing complex, that includes affordable housing, along Carpenter and Pacific. This project is on a bus route that goes to the Senior Center, and is across the street from a grocery store. We are hoping the developers will start construction soon.
Unless the Constitution changes, we follow the Constitution, based on the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment’s anti-commandeering doctrine limits the federal government’s ability to mandate particular action by states and localities, including in the area of federal immigration law enforcement and investigations. Importantly, these Tenth Amendment protections extend not only to states but to localities and their officers. (From Guidance Concerning Immigration Enforcement, Attorney General’s Office). We do not profile or hold anyone beyond the initial local arrest, unless there is an actual Federal Warrant for a crime committed. This is a policy set by our Police Chief and has been the policy for quite some time. I think this is, and should be, the proper approach by the City of Lacey. It doesn’t matter whether a person is legal or illegal, if they aren’t breaking state and local laws.
1) Climate change. While we don’t have to worry about sea level rise, we do have to worry about drought, or extreme fluctuations between very dry and wet periods. Our trees can be severely impacted due to climate change by drought which weakens their tolerance to disease. Besides drought and tree loss, we have numerous lakes whose temperatures have increased and have had problems with increased algae blooms, due to higher temperatures, reduced normal rain occurrences, and nutrient loads from runoff. 2) Affordable Housing. As mentioned above, we do have some affordable housing in the process, but not enough. Between potential homes and rentals increasing in cost, it is becoming difficult for families to live sustainably. 3) Traffic on our major corridors (College, Ruddell, and Martin Way). We are working to add roundabouts to College to help slow traffic and have also started upgrading our traffic light controls to better manage flow of traffic.
As a former biologist, I would have to say climate change. We can’t keep putting it off. To address a sustainable future, one that will allow us to exist despite an increase in temperature, extreme weather events and potential food shortages, we need to start now. Actually, we needed to start 30 years ago. However, cities can, and must, take steps to reduce the effects of climate change. It is hard to relay that urgency to the public, however, since it isn’t something that they can see the full impacts from right this moment. While affordable housing is a major current issue as individuals struggle to stay in their homes, climate change will exacerbate the problem. Extreme weather conditions from climate change impacts the most vulnerable first. Older homes, or low-income housing may not have air conditioning for increased temperatures, or they may be in areas where flooding is most likely to occur as weather conditions become extreme.
I already work very closely with my mayor and city manager. I have monthly, if not bimonthly meetings with the city manager, and often with the major. I forward the city manager suggested ideas about problems so that we can discuss them at our meetings to see if they are workable or not. The City Manager always makes sure the council is aware of upcoming issues, or immediate emergencies by calling us individually or sending an email. I can also call his cellphone at any time. The main thing is to not violate the Public Meetings Act, so I limit my communication to either just the city manager, but have cc’d the Mayor when I felt he needed to know. I don’t include other council members on my emails.