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Cowlitz County City of Longview Council Position 2

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

    Hillary Strobel

  • Scott Vydra

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 (360) 562-0249
Town where you live Longview
Experience (300 characters max) 25 years in community service and economic/business development. Developed systems within academia that lead to a Community Service Learning degree program; disaster relief and public health programs; housing and wellness programs; capital campaigns and community foundation fundraising.
I have had the honor and privilege to work in the fields of community development, economic development, and business development for 25 years, in cities around the US in various stages of need.

The most recent and longest commitment was in New Orleans, where my role in disaster relief immediately following Hurricane Katrina evolved over a decade into the creation of a city-wide infrastructure development agency. We initially organized tree give-aways and eventually worked on healthy food access, public health and safety, and energy efficiency. I’m very proud of the physical labor and the emotional investment that allows New Orleans to thrive to this day, especially after a preventable disaster like Katrina.

I’ve worked in academia, the non-profit sector, and the for-profit sector as a business coach and mentor. I’ve enjoyed building organizations from the ground up that provide genuine solutions to complex problems, based on profound empathy with stakeholders.
There are so many things about Longview that are fantastic and should be cherished. I’m so happy to have been able to make this city my home, because it’s the embodiment of the American Dream for me: it’s beautiful, comfortable, and so full of potential.

I see a city that continues to steward its public institutions as the assets they are and builds on them to provide ever higher qualities of place. I see a city that values public safety by providing access to services for vulnerable citizens as well as full-throated support for the well-being of its first responders. I see a city where gainfully employed citizens are able to invest in the future of their communities and leave positive legacies to their children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, neighbors and friends.

These are things that are relatively straightforward to achieve: we need simply to balance care for each other with the drive to be on the leading edge of industry, development, and financial progress.
The most obvious obstacle to finding connection between care for others and competition with others is the false choice of “either/or.” By framing choices in terms of “either/or,” citizens are robbed of the opportunity to find solutions that might involve a third way or could be reframed entirely in terms of “both/and.”

For example, providing services to one group of vulnerable people is not mutually exclusive from providing services to another. Most people end up believing that both aren’t possible, mainly due to concerns over money.

We miss out on the solutions if we think that only one group can be afforded the services and we feel we have to pick which one is more deserving. We gain so much in the way of solutions when we think about all the ways that services can be overlapped, how much public investment is saved by prevention, and how much experience we can draw upon when we actually involve vulnerable groups in the design of the program or policy.
Any policy-making body has an opportunity and an obligation to contribute to the health and well-being of the environment. In this way, the city council can set guidelines and expectations for businesses to operate with certain standards, for growth to be responsible and measured, and for natural resources to be preserved and cultivated.

Longview’s potential to be a role model in terms of environmental stewardship in harmony with economic opportunity is very exciting. We are an “emerging market” in terms of what is possible to attract new businesses, and as a policy body, City Council can and should set the expectations for environmental stewardship in its growth and business development.
We are able to provide an outstanding suite of public infrastructure services because of the great work of the city staff, but like most smaller cities, Longview lacks critical infrastructure updates due to financial limitations. Many city departments are understaffed and underfunded, yet manage to keep the lights on very well.

We have a solid comprehensive plan that lays out the next decade of infrastructure growth in Longview, and we should look at the ways to create efficiencies, remove redundancies, and overlap functions within the parameters of that plan. The main driver to affordability for these things is smart economic growth. For example, mixed use development costs less to build but allows more people to occupy (and pay taxes in) a smaller footprint, which cuts down dramatically on infrastructure costs.
I believe that, even though homelessness is such a multifaceted issue, a critical best practice and first response would be providing comprehensive, holistic mental health and crisis services in Longview.

Additionally, we must think critically about the affordability and diversity of housing options—single family, multi-family, apartments, condos, and hotels—as well as transitional housing and shelter opportunities and housing support services.

It is far more financially sound to invest in providing preventative services than it is to operate reactively. We are better served by removing the risks of losing one’s home than we are by enforcing punitive measures after the fact. The most effective preventative measure is, of course, creating more well-paying jobs.
Since Washington is a sanctuary state, we are mandated to allow for immigration protection. Across the board, new arrivals to a town—whether they are from 10 miles or 10,000 miles away—contribute to the economy by paying sales taxes on goods and services. Gainful employment opportunities means they are also paying income taxes. Well-paying employment means they will hopefully be paying property taxes on the homes they can afford to buy.

Migration has been part of the human story from the beginning of history, and it behooves us to allow migrants to the community to contribute to the community, which they overwhelmingly do.
The current communication system works well, but the timing and amenities should accommodate working parents and caregivers in addition to the “usual suspects” that engage in local politics. For example, the city can include nanny service so kids can be tended to while parents attend council meetings.

It is crucial for a policy body and its elected officials to be deeply empathetic to its constituents and act accordingly. Transparency and accountability are expected of any policy-making body to ensure our integrity and usefulness, and I’m fully in support of oversight to that effect.

Some cities have begun to swap large town-hall meetings for all-day, open house-style exhibitions that allow neighbors to interact with politicians one-on-one. The key is starting consultations early and providing more opportunities for citizen participation.
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