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City of Yakima/Ciudad de Yakima Council/Concejo, Position/Puesto 7

The city council sets the general policies of the city, which are implemented by the city manager and staff. One of council's main duties is the adoption of policies and the enactment of the city's annual budget. City council sets fiscal policies and approves all spending , whether for operations or capital items or public facility maintenance and improvements. The council also sets salaries for city employees.

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  • Candidate picture

    Holly N. Cousens

  • Candidate picture

    Sarah Towell

Biographical Information

What experiences have you had that qualify you for this position?

How would you describe your vision for your city?

What are the obstacles in the path of achieving your vision?

What do you think is your city/town’s role in dealing with issues surrounding the environment?

What are the issues surrounding your city/town's infrastructure?

How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness?

How do you think your city/town should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?

How would you propose the council communicate with the citizens of your city or town?

Phone 509.759.4872
Town where you live Yakima WA. District 7
Experience (300 characters max) I have had the true honor and pleasure of being a seated council member since 2015.I know the job demands and what it takes to be successful. I also have a Masters in Business Admin. (MBA) and 10+ years in accounting. Along with a Masters in Organizational Leadership. I want to be YOUR voice!
As an elected official it is our job to be the voice of the people. I have had the true honor and pleasure of being a seated council member since 2015. During my tenure of council, I was also the assistant mayor. I know the job demands and what it takes to be successful. Beyond, my last 4 years in the office, I also hold my master’s in business administration (MBA) along with a Masters in change leadership. I have sat on many boards and commissions, along with 10 + years of accounting in my background. I currently teach at Yakima Valley College and have since 2010. Giving back to our community is where my heart is.

Since 2015 I have placed streetlights and sidewalks in district 7 making it safer for children and adults to walk and cross the streets safely. I have taken the intersection rated number one for accidents in Yakima and made it safer. .
Public Safety: We have had a lot of violent crimes that takes place in Yakima, and folks are uneasy we must reduce it. It is imperative that we work with our police officers to build more community. Hold public forums on safety where folks can ask questions and know where, what and when to report suspicious activities. We need to build relationships with our officers and residents, so they feel comfortable reporting suspicious activity.

Fiscal Responsibility: As a council we MUST be fiscally responsible. We must put money back into the reserve accounts to ensure that our bond ratings do not decrease, and interest rates rise. My voting history has proven that I am not afraid to make the hard choices, necessary to help grown our reserve fund.

Economic Development: I have sat on the economic development committee for the City of Yakima, for the last four years. I believe we need a port district in Yakima. We also, need to find a better way to support small businesses and growth.
Public Safety: There is a lot of fear in our community when it comes to reporting crimes and speaking to our police force. This is where the public forums come in. I believe we have an obligation to get information out to our community about the different ways to report, such as texting 911.

Fiscal Responsibility: It is not always easy when you are being pitched something that sounds great to vote it down. However, if we think with our bottom line then we know what we can afford we would continue to put money back where it needs to be. In order for us to be successful in this endeavor we must approach the budget season a little different we must vote in projects during our budget sessions only thus ensures we are staying on track of refilling the reserve. When projects come up during the year, we must truly weigh is this something that can wait until we can budget for it next year or is it an emergency? We must not keep spending but be diligent about our dollars.
We all have a role to play in environmental issues. I recently voted to do a pilot program for solar panels. It is very important we play our part in helping our environment. Not only do we need to explore solar, but we also need to work closely with The Department of Ecology on water rights, fish hatcheries and runs. In Yakima fish is a big deal. In the past year and a half, I have worked closely with our streets department to ensure that we replace all streetlights with LED lighting to ensure we are conserving as much energy as we can.
Yakima has a lot of infrastructure issues. I have sat on the public safety committee for 2 years not at the City and we have worked diligently on safe routs to ALL elementary schools. This is just one step in helping our infrastructure. We need to fix sidewalks so that they are not uprooted by trees making them safe and ADA accessible. During my tenure on council we created a Equity Study showing the needs of Yakima, where we have infrastructure issues. We need to diligently take that list and priorities it so we are fixing our streets, lights, and sidewalks in all of Yakima, and not just on one side of Yakima.
I have worked very closely with the homeless and have really attempted to make a difference. After all we are all one disaster away from being in their shoes. In saying that homelessness, is multifaceted. People are homeless for many different reasons and their needs are not all the same. I believe we need more wrap around services to help support them in what their individual needs are. We also MUST house them. I am a big fan of the tiny home projects and believe that folks cannot even set a goal or think about a job etc. if they have to worry about where they are going to sleep at night.
There is one race and it is the Human Race; it truly burns my soul to think about what we America is doing to families. With that said, as a city and a council we must be careful in this endeavor. Our job is to be policy makers and not activists. We must uphold our contractual obligations to ensure our budget is sustainable and strong. There are things we can and must do however, they are we should never be asking the citizenship question. I believe there is a lot of fear in our Latinx community to report crimes for fear of deportation. This must change we must build relationship. Yakima is #13 for growing the more food in the U.S without the workers we may lose that ranking and our economy would dwindle. I believe we should support this community and stand up to issues we can make a difference on.
Again, we need to be where the people are. Currently we live stream all of our council meetings on Facebook and our City Website, in both English and Spanish. We need to keep this momentum going and have a city booth at things like farmers market and other gatherings and festivals in our City. We need to get the information to the people. I have found that folks do not always know where to look for the information so making it more assessable to them is a number one priority.

As ac council member for the last 4 years I have firsthand seen just how hard it is to get information out there. Not for lack of trying but because everyone has a different story some use computers some don’t, some come to council and other don’t know how or when. We definitely need to do a better job with this. We need to hear every voice and have people sig up to be con community and city committee to help their voices be heard.
Address Same as mailing
Phone 509.834.0541
Town where you live Yakima
Experience (300 characters max) I was a Veterinary Assistant for 10 years before becoming a stay at home mom. I also helped my grandparents a lot growing up and even more in the last few years of their lives.
While I'm no stranger to understanding a budget and that money matters, I also am able to listen with compassion and empathy to the issues that affect people. I'm patient. I'm able to have a debate and be respective of opposing opinions that I disagree with to try and reach a compromise all can agree apon.
My vision for our City is to improve and enrich the lives of our community. To do that we need to find effective solutions to homelessness and crime. I believe that reaching out with compassion and helping people get the help they need to succeed will lead to reduced crime and homelessness. People shouldn't be afraid to walk around town or enjoy our parks and Greenway.
The main obstacle I see is that it will take time, money and a lot of effort to invest in our community, but I do believe it's worth it.
It is definitely our job to ensure public safety and access to clean water. We always need to continue to work on having clean waterways and reducing waste.
We massively need to work on many of our roads. I see a lot of focus on downtown but Yakima is more than just downtown. Many of our roads have potholes and we all know we still have bridges that need more matinence and repairs. I also see several side roads that aren't a four way stop but it's difficult to even see around the corners which can clearly be a safety issue.
We can best respond to homelessness by first not judging and blaming them. We need to reach out with compassion and understanding. I think when dealing with a homeless encampment we should be sending social workers out them. We need from there help get them to a place they can stay like Camp Hope so they are off the street and in a safe place. Next would be helping them get access to mental health services and drug addiction if they need it. From there it's be helping them get to job interviews and get a job so they can start earning money. We will also need more low income housing so they will be able to get a place if their own.
Certainly if they have legally immigrated here it would be just like any of our natural born citizens other than helping make sure they have access to English language classes if they need them. I'm VERY against separating children from their parents. Nor am I for sending them into internment camps. We are better than that. We again need to approach illegal immigrants with compassion. They are still human and we must treat them as such.
By inviting them to our City Council meetings and being reachable by phone or some form of online communication. It's important to hear the voice of everyone in the community.