Town where you live
Ellensburg, Washington 98926
Experience (300 characters max)
Completed one term on the Ellensburg City Council, seeking re-election. Served 10 yrs. on County Homeless and Affordable Housing Committee.
After leaving public health work, I volunteered for the Kittitas County Homeless and Affordable Housing Committee. I led the process to write the first County Homeless and Affordable Housing Plan in 2007, working closely with community partners in the planning. As a member of the Committee, I participated in reviewing, ranking and recommending County grants to support local agencies addressing the issues of homeless and affordable housing. I won a seat on the Ellensburg City Council in 2017. In my four years, I chaired Ellensburg's first Affordable Housing Commission, using my prior experience to set up a grant process for the Commission to recommend grant awards to the Council. I am currently chairing Ellensburg's first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission. I also serve on the County Law and Justice Committee, the City Utility Advisory Committee and the City Community Grants committee.
Growth and change are our future. Ellensburg is at a crossroads. I favor managing the change to enable us to become a vibrant, small city with a bustling downtown and historic district, anchored by a new downtown park that welcomes everyone to sit, visit, rest, be community. City Council prioritized housing development, focusing on density and adding a variety of housing types to suit all structures of families, and affordability for all economic categories; to be proactive working toward a strong and resilient economy built on higher wage jobs, a qualified and diverse workforce, local business retention and expansion, new business development and tourism; to expand our fiber optic network to provide reliable and affordable internet service to every resident and to businesses; to expand our green spaces and parks as new development is built; and to keep our focus on our rural heritage. I am committed to this vision.
In the past and a half, the City Council has had more participation from the community that we have had in the entire 4 years I've been on the Council. During the pandemic year, we found we had numerous attendees at every meeting, many just listened but many participated in the public comment period. We maintained the electronic access after we started meeting in=person. On a personal level, I do not have a scheduled opportunity for community feedback at this time. Not having an official office at city hall makes that a real challenge. I do receive comments/inquiries from the public on a pretty regular basis and make it a practice to respond in a timely manner. I believe I am a good listener, and i welcome people stopping me on the street, sending an emails, or phoning me. I have found personal contact to be much more important than electronic communication when talking with the public.
Our new city manager is very approachable and open to meetings with all council members and staff. Her responses to meeting requests are timely and efficient. Twice monthly meetings are scheduled prior to Council meetings. She is, also, responsive to emails and phone calls when needed. I expect to continue my current strategy meeting with her if re-elected.
Over 60% of our current residents value environmental stewardship and have prioritized protecting the environment as part of our values in our comprehensive plan. Council has a mandate to address environmental issues in this community. Two city committees are directly involved with this work, the Environmental Commission and the Utility Advisory Committee (Ellensburg owns its utilities). We also have very active community engagement with this issue through a group called Our Environment, engaging frequently with the UAC on matters of policy modification and strategic planning for a resilient and sustainable energy future for the city. City Council has responded positively to proposals from this and other groups, frequently approving resolutions and ordinances dealing with environmental issues.
We anticipate 72 new units of affordable housing to be available in the next two years through the Council's use of the .01% sales tax revenue as well as some city property that we surplussed for Affordable Housing. We get recommendations on these expenditures from the Affordable Housing Commission. The city also works with non-profit agencies and private builders to support their housing projects by negotiating fees for permitting costs where feasible. The City has not funded any projects to address the homeless issues in our community. The county has that responsibility. The City has allowed us of a city facility for Community Connect Day. In summer 2021, the city opened several cooling shelters for a 10 day stretch of 100+ degree weather for the residents and homeless community. We need a dedicated facility for the care and housing of the homeless. Perhaps a future discussion with a community partner?
Actually, we are formulating that plan right now, a significant reason I want to be re-elected to our City Council. One of the positive things in 2020 was a Council initiative conducting a Listening Tour to better understand what it was like to live in Ellensburg as a marginalized/ disenfranchised person and how Ellensburg can be better in the future. A Council sub committee talked with over 100 persons from these subgoups: People of Color, over 65, disabled, LGBTQ, and the Jewish and Muslim communities. Resulting from a final report was the establishment of a DEI Commission, through City ordinance, to engage the community in a plan and sustain ongoing efforts to strengthen community relationships. The Commission began work in May 2020 and has submitted a draft chapter for the Comprehensive Plan. I am running for re-election to continue my Council role with that Commission.
The City provided significant leadership, in partnership with the county, during the 2020 pandemic, forming a Community Recovery Committee for gap funding for residents, regular updating meetings with city agencies coordinating a unified response. A considerable amount of our CARES funding was funneled to qualified residents for rental assistance, forgiveness on utility bills, to name a few strategies that were used. Additionally, the City will soon begin discussions about the allocation of additional CARES funding we received. I expect that supporting our businesses in the post-Covid economy will be part of that conversation.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
My background is in technical and business consulting for Fortune 100 businesses. In this capacity I've designed and built custom systems for Amazon, lead a large research project for Microsoft Research, and been the subject matter expert for the evaluation of companies and emerging technologies.
This is my first time running for public office. In the past I have volunteered with several youth-based organizations including coaching both baseball and basketball, as well as a two church youth groups.
My vision for the city is one that provides opportunity for all who seek it. Opportunity comes in many different forms. We've got tremendous educational opportunities already with Central Washington University and we have a vibrant base of growing small businesses that I'd like to see explode into the next great Ellensburg success story.
To maximize both educational and professional opportunities we need to improve our cities infrastructure, especially Internet infrastructure. We also need to ease the regulatory burden on building new housing if we are to keep and attract citizens. I also want to find way the city can support our local food bank FISH, which has taken on a tremendous burden in feeding a large portion of our population. Mental health resources are severely lacking in our city and must be addressed through cooperation with our local health care system, non-profits, and the county.
A top goal of my campaign is to be an open and transparent candidate and hopefully councilman. In all my campaign materials I've listed both my direct email and phone number. I've sat down with hundreds of citizens over this campaign and have personally knocked on more than a thousand doors. I've been directly with businesses, non-profits, and other organizations that impact our city. If elected, I'll never turn away an opportunity to hear from a fellow citizen and am always happy to sit down with anyone and pick up the tab for coffee. I have been and will continue to be an open to meet and speak with anyone.
Working with anyone, whether in business or city government begins with a conversation. One of the first things I plan on doing if elected is reaching out to our city manager and assistant city manager and asking to meet in person. My goal is to listen and explore ways we can improve the city. As the full time, day to day manager our city manager is a wealth of knowledge that I hope I can learn from to help shape initiatives that can deliver improvements for all citizens.
Our city in conjunction with Waste Management has done a really good job of keeping our streets clean. In all the years I've been here I've never had a pickup missed. Ellensburg in its layout is also fortunate to be a city that is very pedestrian and bike friendly. Living in this gorgeous valley, we should do what we can to be good stewards and I'm always ready to explore other ways we can improve our city from an environmental perspective.
Housing around Ellensburg is an issue. We've had many homes double in value over the last 5 years. While the equity appreciation is good for the other, what we are really seeing is a broken market. In the last year we've only produced 50% of the housing we would need just to keep up with demand.
I've spoken with many young families who are struggling to meet the high cost of housing compared to wages. I've also spoken with many seniors who are slowly being priced out of their own home due to increases in property taxes directly linked to increases in property tax assessments. When you are living on a fixed income, something most give.
We need to increase our housing though decreasing the cost and time it takes for permits to be issued and inspections to be done. We also need to be creative in the types of housing that is allowed. This is an issue that needs fresh eyes, especially since were projected to double in population by 2040.
One of the things I love about Ellensburg is how inclusive and diverse we are. Year around with Central Washington University we see new faces from all backgrounds come into our city and we embrace it. Go up and down Main Street and it's impossible not to notice the Wildcat logos and all the students visiting and working at small businesses. Football and basketball games are often packed with support from the local community. Is or will any community be perfect? No. But I believe we have so much to be proud of in how we treat each other in this city, and I will look for ways to make sure everyone feels they have a voice.
The best way to deal with revenue shortfalls is through prioritization of spending and increase in ways to encourage growth of our local economy. We have so many things in our favor. Recent success stories like Iron Horse and Whipsaw brewery. The largest Timothy hay exporters in Anderson and Ward Rugh. We sit directly on a major interstate in I-90, and we have a major state university in CWU. These can all be catalysts in helping to find the next great Ellensburg success story.
With us being firmly in the 21st century, to attract new businesses we must meet their needs. All businesses are digital in some way, and we can only attract new businesses with vast improvements in our business class Internet connections. Another thing businesses interested in moving look at is housing availability for growth and local tax burdens. We must be all hands-on deck if we are going to not just revive, but thrive.