Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Parent, Professor, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Harm-Reduction Knowledgeable, Anti-Racist Activist, Diversity Consult, Openly Transgender Leader, Progressive.
As a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who has spent my career serving vulnerable people who struggle with poverty, drug addiction, and trauma I am highly familiar with which practices are most well researched to manage our biggest social issues. These practices that are useful in a clinical setting can be transferred to city policy to create trauma-informed policy which will be the only reliable method for creating housing, equity, and climate solutions. We are a sanctuary city that has seen ICE arrests and racial discrimination and continues to have no viable structures to support our values. I believe that with compassionate and articulate leadership, we can become the city that we need to be for a sustainable, growth-oriented home for all. As a college Professor, I will re-structure how we communicate our policies to the public in an accessible and transparent way. My personal and professional experiences are most complimentary to the current team.
My vision for Olympia is an environmentally just home in which those of us who work in the city can also live in the city. In order to do so, we must build housing that meets multiple levels of income while working towards income equity. I want leaders who are reliably honest and understand that transparency is a requirement to fair governance. I also want to see leaders who are familiar with the community and not just their donors. Finally I want a city council that is diverse in method, skill set, and identity. I am an openly transgender man and I feel it is critical to bring forward representation from marginalized communities that are most impacted by the lack of fair policy.
The obstacles in achieving my vision will be the slower pace of public policy development. I appreciate that we have declared a state of emergency in regards to homelessness but we have done so repeatedly, and from a crisis-management perspective it is clear that we have been compromised in our ability to progress with urgency. Bringing in new leadership will be key to building more equitable solutions. I foresee that given the many channels that new policy will need to move through to blossom from speaking points to recorded policy, our neighbors who do not have their basic needs met are most likely to suffer from the consequences of our slower pacing. I commit to being a city council person who works hard and cooperatively to best move forward our necessary solutions in a time sensitive manner.
The LOTT plant serves Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater as our waste water treatment center. LOTT is a non-profit that has been successful in both innovation and quality to serve our growing population and our needs to preserve water quality. The LOTT plant is in jeopardy due to earthquake hazard and our rising sea levels. At current, the Port has partnered with the City of Olympia and LOTT to create a Sea Level Rising Plan which is accessible to the public on the city’s webpage. I encourage all to read through the plan as there are several helpful solutions offered. Above all else, the current plan is intended to be a living document that is updated and enhanced regularly. One of the aspects of the sea level rising plan that I will be particularly strong in delivering is the communications aspect. I have spent my career as a communications expert and I look forward to bringing my perspective to our local leadership.
Olympia has experienced deep conflict over zoning as shown in the Missing Middle fissure and our continued inability to create housing for all while managing our footprint. I would like to invite more dynamic ways to include public commentary as it is not accessible for all residents to have just three minutes to speak into a microphone at a city council meeting. We will need to ensure that city council is working with all available partners to bring forward sustainable and equitable solutions which include service providers and environmentalists. As a parent to two young children in Olympia, the responsibility to create housing in an environmentally respectful and just manner is a top priority. We need to move beyond hurtful criticism and focus on a united effort to nurture the gorgeous landscape we live on.
Like many other cities in Washington, Olympia has a tax incentive for developers who build multifamily buildings, such as apartment buildings. A 8-year tax exemption has been utilized by developers to build both apartment buildings and condominiums at market-rate. However, Olympia also offers a 12 year discount for developers who build multi-family projects that include a percentage of affordable units and this incentive has not been utilized enough to take care of the community. This disparity tells us that while there have been strong avenues to build market-rate housing; we need to re-think incentives offered for affordable housing development. I have experience working in housing-first agencies which sees that we need to offer shelter with the least amount of barriers. I fully support that we build another mitigation site in an inter-local agreement so that we share the responsibility of housing with Lacey and Tumwater.
Olympia has declared itself a sanctuary city although there is no infrastructure to support the values of being a sanctuary city. We have endured ICE arrests and racially based police violence in Olympia, and we continue to be a White dominated city not just in general population but also in economic and political leadership. That is why when I began my campaign I committed that my platform and my leadership would center on equity. I have experience as a diversity consultant and I am evolved in my comprehension of what it means to be an anti-racist activist. Many of the most successful efforts on anti-racism in Olympia are done at the grassroots level, such as sponsorship of undocumented folks and reparations for families impacted by systemic racism. I feel proud of the ways that my family has contributed to localized efforts but I am mobilized to expand our reach through city council.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Answered in the first question below.
I have over a decade of experience working in the local community on issues of climate change, housing, sustainable transportation, farmland preservation, ecosystem recovery, and civics. Through this experience, I have developed a network of collaborative relationships and a comprehensive perspective on the issues we face. I have a degree from the Evergreen State College in science and sustainability, and a Master of Public Administration in public policy. I currently have a career in Puget Sound recovery working on behalf of tribes. I have served on the board of the Olympia Food Co-op and The Olympian Editorial Board, and have volunteered with many other local organizations. I am trained in government-to-government relations, community needs assessment, mediation, and public outreach. I host a podcast that explores issues in Olympia with the goal of strengthening our public discourse.
My vision for Olympia includes a high quality of life that is accessible to everyone who lives here. We celebrate our local cultures and creative energy through a thriving art and food scene, especially in downtown. We appreciate the natural beauty of the environment with a healthy waterfront, established parks, and open green spaces that are easily accessible to every resident. The people are friendly, diverse, and passionate about what they bring to the community. Everyone is able to find fulfilling employment and a home that is right for them. As Olympia grows, we will become a dense urban city that offers the opportunity to walk, bike, or take public transit. We adapt to the changing climate by ensuring that people are safe from changing conditions, and respond by changing our relationship to energy, transportation, and the environment.
Today in Olympia, there is not enough housing for everyone, and what is available is steadily increasing in cost. This is causing people to be displaced from our community, so they must drive longer distances to enjoy what Olympia has to offer. We have threats to Puget Sound and other waterways from legacy pollution and outdated infrastructure. Our downtown, which should be our cultural, economic, and social hub, does not feel welcoming to everyone. We face inadequate treatment options for those experiencing difficulties with physical health, mental health, and addiction. Climate change is upon us now, yet we are just now putting into place a plan to reduce our impact, and that plan must include bold actions and proper funding. Everything that we need to do for a bright future for Olympia requires ample resources, and local governments are limited with tax caps and competing priorities.
LOTT is in the earthquake liquefaction zone. This threat was incorporated into the design of the facility, but the risks change with sea level rise. Olympia recently adopted a plan for sea level rise in partnership with LOTT and the Port. I view this as a “best case scenario” plan, which depends on funding for the infrastructure within time for the current projections of sea level rise. With competition for funding among all coastal cities and changing science around sea level rise projections, I will advocate for a “plan B” in case we are unable to achieve the current plan. The protection of LOTT would take priority, since we need the treatment plant to protect Puget Sound. But over a longer timeframe, I would like to explore the potential to decentralize the treatment operations. I understand that there are great costs associated with this scenario, but I also want to make sure we don’t impose these costs onto future generations.
Local government plays a role in helping people find shared values and interests. As issues around scarce resources emerge, the first step is education and outreach to help people understand the issues. We should convene public engagement sessions that bring people together to talk about their hopes and fears for the future. This will help people remember we are in community together, even when we disagree. These discussions can shape the decisions of the city, which should involve a stakeholder group. The city’s website should be easy to access for the average user. When it comes time to make a decision around difficult issues, it is imperative that we recognize that the people who disagree are not bad people. They are people who identify with the place that they live and are afraid that they will lose that sense of identity. We still must make a decision and move forward, especially with the needs of future generations in mind, but we must do so in a way that brings people along.
Homelessness and affordable housing are priority issues in Olympia. The city has launched several new programs to address homelessness, which is an issue that impacts everyone in our community. We need a crisis management plan that ties these programs together and incorporates performance measurement. If we can monitor the impact and success, we will know we are headed in the right direction and can change our course as needed. This plan should also guide the communication between service providers, the city, and the public, helping everyone understand the causes, approach, and concerns of homelessness. We also lack enough housing for those of low to average income. In our comprehensive plan, I will develop specific targets for affordability. How many units do we need for those of all income levels? If we develop these targets, we can come up with a focused plan to incentivize development that will ensure that people are not being displaced from our community as we continue to grow.
It is important that all people within our city feel welcome and valued. I support Olympia’s status as a sanctuary city. When Olympia adopted this status, work was done with the Olympia Police Department to remove questions about citizenship. I will keep in close contact with people who are working to support immigrants to stay apprised of any emerging issues around immigration. I will work with other local jurisdictions to encourage them to also develop policies to protect immigrants' rights. I would also like to explore how city government can assure that, through our services and public engagement, we are reaching people for whom English is their second language.