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Walla Walla County City of Walla Walla City Council Position 5 - West Ward

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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    Sharon Kay Schiller

  • Candidate picture

    Susan Smiley-Nakonieczny

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) 525-9400
Town where you live Walla Walla, Washington
Experience (300 characters max) I have civic volunteer experience as a member of the bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee (3 years), and community council, food security study (1 year). I attend public meetings regularly.
I have been avidly following and giving my perspective on local politics since I returned to Walla Walla to live in 2010. Before that, I had two very different careers—Business Administration and Registered Nursing. Business Administration gave me background and practice in economics and finance, while registered nursing helped me to be empathetic with people of diverse backgrounds, responding to their needs. I have had experience as an administrative assistant in various types of business such as airline catering, real estate, electrical contracting, and an art museum. I have raised two children as a single mother while working full time to support them and trying to give them the best upbringing possible. They are now independent adults doing very well in their careers.
My vision for the city is for vibrancy and enthusiasm for all ages and socioeconomic levels, whether a person is a resident or visitor, or whether a person is at work or off the clock. There should be a sense of opportunity for growth without being “stuck." There should be a sense of togetherness and acceptance in the community. There should be faith in our law enforcement system so that all feel safe and free from harm. A key ingredient to this vibrancy is to have roads, neighborhoods, commercial businesses and parks free from blight. Aesthetics is something that residents and businesses, together with the city, can work on together.
1) Lack of empowerment of the people: The city must be transparent in their plans and projects, always understanding that residents should not be run over roughshod. If there is improvement in one area of the city or if service is more heavily provided to one particular sector (residents, businesses, visitors) then there is a sense of unfairness which gives individuals dissatisfaction. 2) Not fighting blight, or turning a blind eye to aesthetics: Residents must come to the realization that they are the primary people responsible for a city free from blight. Blight can be a hindrance for visitors to return a second time, and may prompt some families to move out of the area to greener pastures. The city may assist in having work crews pick up strewn trash periodically, but just one thoughtless toss of garbage out of a car window or by a pedestrian not disposing of trash can cause quite an eyesore to those who pass through afterward.
The city must not choose projects that would involve environmental degradation. One example is to refrain from involving itself with the garbage trade when it would involve shipping refuse out of the city. If we generate the waste, then it is our responsibility to dispose of it. Surrounding areas can use our landfill and water works if there is a capacity and they pay a fee. The city has done well in keeping toxins from the landfill from leaking into the soil and the methane from decomposition from going into the air. Code enforcement must be plentiful in order to protect the neighborhoods from hazards. The sustainability committee should advise the city council in ways to keep greenhouse gas emissions down, such as not having city vehicles idle for extended amounts of time.
There are water and sewer lines that leak into the ground, and streets that have deep potholes which surprise the driver and damage cars. Sidewalks are cracked and crumbling, causing a safety and aesthetics problem. It is not clear to me how the city chooses which roads are to be repaired and which are to be repaved. There is a tendency to take on the larger projects where grants have been awarded, rather than to choose to work over a smaller area where there are not many travelers down the street. In some neighborhoods in the West Ward area, residents cut down residential streets rather than proceed to where they would have to wait for a traffic light, causing more wear on the residential streets. Some neighborhoods do not have the sense of security for allowing children to play outside. Each neighborhood should have a suitable community area with trees, grass, shrubs, and benches for relaxation; as well as play areas for children.
My city is doing a great job in providing a sleep center, so people without a place to go do not have to sleep in a public park, in alcoves or on private property. There is already a requirement to register and communicate with a social service worker, as I understand. The city’s sleep center is on a bus route in an industrial area, and some residents of the industrial area voice concerns and should be heard. The sleep center area has a place for showers, which is a good addition because otherwise the rest rooms in parks or the splash park in Washington Park would be used for that purpose. Those who use the sleep facility should not be expected to work in assigned labor in exchange for sleeping there. If they do labor, they should be paid a minimum wage for their work. Efforts should be made to not punish those who utilize the sleep center with shame or stigma, but rather help them secure employment and a more permanent home so that each individual can grow.
Local law enforcement should deal with all infractions of the law in a spirit of equality without using racial profiling. Human rights should be our primary concern, and immigration status should not cause undue stress on families. Families should be dealt with compassionately.
The city has just installed a video system to stream council meetings, and have made changes to its website, but I have concern that this will 1) cause people to become less involved and not speak out because they are on video, and 2) the communication can be complicated and difficult to understand on the web pages, and people will not seek answers because of the high level of technical wording that only experts can understand, and the lay person can feel intimidated and give up. I propose that there be live streaming via radio of city council meetings, with the city having to pay a local radio station to air them. This would make the meetings accessible. Council members generally give a reason behind why they are voting yea or nay in a way that the general public can understand, which can be transmitted conveniently to people who listen to the radio.
Phone (928) 486-9864
Town where you live Walla Walla
Experience (300 characters max) 1984 WaHi Graduate, 1988 BA; Education, Eastern Washington University, 1997 MA; Educational Technology, City University I have been teaching middle school for 25 years and periodically taught night classes at the Community College. I am also a co-owner of a business in downtown Walla Walla.
Although I have no political experience, I have held several leadership positions in my career. Staying informed on local issues has stemmed my interest in serving on the WW City Council. My goal is to help build a more positive view of our City Council through transparency. I am honest, trustworthy and confident. As a council member, I will listen and be a voice for the citizens of WW. I want to represent the WW community in a way that makes them feel like they are part of the process instead of being outside of it. Finding real solutions to issues in the community means listening to your voices. I feel the ward system has encouraged a place for regular, intuitive citizens to step up and provide a perspective that is different than what it has been. I'm just a regular, middle class person who wants to make a positive impact on our city.
The main focus should be on making WW a great place to live, work and play. The policies enacted by the council have direct impact. 1) Create an excellent climate for business and help fill the vacant buildings to employ working families. The more people who are employed, the more tax dollars available for city improvement. 2) Create a climate for developing housing that satisfies ALL levels of income. More supply will eventually bring the costs down. To do this, building must be made more favorable. 3) Making WW a nice place to live where people enjoy a high quality of life benefits everybody. Companies that offer higher-paying jobs have trouble finding and recruiting talent. The better the quality of life in WW, the easier it will be to find and retain talent. We also have great colleges and one of the best community colleges in the state to educate our young people for careers right here in the city. And we have some truly talented, dedicated kids coming through our schools.
Seeking information about public opinion on local issues is critical. Not everyone can attend council meetings due to work and other commitments. The fact that the city is now recording the meetings is an improvement. However, there are many ways that the council and the city need to explore to reach out for public opinion.
The environment is everyone's responsibility. It is important that the city's leaders protect the health and environment for future generations with out a tax burden to our citizens. These policies must be sustainable and reviewed annually for reliability and impact with long term benefits and tax savings.
Infrastructure covers many areas of our city. Our roads have been neglected for quite sometime with a lack maintenance and for numerous roads the damage is now past the maintenance level. This must be addressed. Another area of concern is water conservation. Another issue, which is not considered infrastructure, that must be addressed is the supply of housing in general. While the population has increased 21%, income has only increased 17%. As the supply decreases, prices for houses and rentals goes up. The climate for building housing must become more favorable to tackle this issue.
According to my survey, our number one issue is homelessness. We have the sleep center and with this we have experienced increasing crime, public intoxication, and illegal drug use. I know this because I live close to it.This is impacting the SAFETY of our generous, law-abiding residents. Even though our city has a no-camping ordinance, camping is prevalent. The city has provided the land, buildings and funding for a sleep center which is good, but it should now be funded and run completely by a non-profit organization. WW has numerous services to support the homeless and teamwork is critical. These agencies can better help the homeless by addressing the needs such as lining up mental health, drug rehab, shelter and job training services. When the community sees a difference, they become more willing to make charitable donations to non-profits that are making the most impact. There needs to be access for the homeless to get help. However, It should not be taxpayer responsibility.
I see this as more of a federal issue rather than municipal issue. Seeing both sides of the issue, I feel that most immigrants are hard-working and law-abiding and I value all people equally. I don't think that anybody should live in fear of profiling. However, at the same time, equal enforcement of the law is for the SAFETY of everybody. Public intoxication, drug use, driving under the influence, and and especially violent crimes must be addressed no matter who the perpetrator. In the West Ward, both the immigrants and non-immigrants live together as neighbors respectfully and deal with the issue of not feeling safe at home and at the parks in the West Ward due to the increase of crime in the area.
Recording the public meetings is a great start. Building communication and teaching about the issues is critical. The city should use every mode of communication available to connect with the public to teach about the issues and also provide a way for community members voice their opinion in both English and Spanish.