EAST WENATCHEE — With the incumbent running for mayor, East Wenatchee City Council Position 6 is up for grabs.
Campaigning for the seat are Christine Johnson and Marl Kane.
The position is currently held by Tim Detering, who's seeking the mayor's seat against fellow council member Jerrilea Crawford. Mayor Steve Lacy is not seeking reelection.
Johnson, 54, is a fiscal specialist for Aging & Adult Care of Central Washington in East Wenatchee. Kane, 82, is a former executive with a long career in engineering.
The Wenatchee World asked the candidates to respond to questions on issues related to the city and its future.
Wenatchee World: Why do you want to be on the City Council and why should residents vote for you?
Christine Johnson: For the past 23-plus years, I’ve worked for government in one form or another here in the valley. I’ve seen firsthand the positive difference a local government can make in a community when the elected officials are of the mindset that they work for the people. That’s the type of city council member I would strive to be — someone who encourages more public input in city matters. I would love to see more public attendance at city council meetings, and more public forums where public opinion is sought on issues that will affect the prosperity and safety of the city for everyday citizens. Communication, and the sharing of ideas, are what will make our community stronger and run more efficiently.
I raised my family in East Wenatchee. Both of my boys attended East Wenatchee schools K-12, and have gone on to be upstanding, independent men. Living in this community has been good to me and good for my children. I would now like to give back to the community by serving as an advocate for the citizens and promoting their right and ability to live and work in a healthy, safe, efficient and productive environment.
Marl Kane: Having been born and raised in Wenatchee and attended Wenatchee High School. Having lived and worked elsewhere, I suspect I may have an even greater appreciation for the qualities that make our area truly exceptional. The strong sense of community, civic pride, our orchards, vineyards, foothill and Loop Trail systems, and the rivers, lakes and mountains are all attributes to be cherished and nurtured. Having been active in Rotary for many years and guided by their motto — “Service above self” — I believe we should each make a contribution of our time and effort. I bring to the council a wealth of experience including a wide array of executive, leadership and dispute resolution skills and experience. I have served on the board of directors of a large construction/engineering firm, as CEO of a technology firm doing business domestically and internationally, as president of a community services district, chair of a CEO forum. I’ve also been an arbitrator and chairman of multiple dispute resolution boards, and as a partner and engineering and construction vice president of a wind energy development firm.
WW: What do you see as the city's key issues in the next four years?
Johnson: It’s imperative that the city continue working toward finding solutions to homelessness in this valley. We need to find out the major reasons that people are becoming homeless, and work together with the assistance agencies in the valley to find whatever solutions and resources we can to secure safe places to live for marginalized people, and ways to help them out of their situations if they want it.
The city’s infrastructure is a constant challenge. I believe that the city has done a great job keeping up with the needs of the current residents. However, as the city continues to grow, finding alternatives to funding growth and services will continue to be an issue. I don’t believe that increased taxation should always be the go-to answer.
The East Wenatchee Police Department needs to quickly find a way to resolve the rift between management and staff. Whatever the major reasons or issues are — whether it’s communication, training, mutual respect, etc. — the citizens of East Wenatchee deserve a police force that they can have complete faith in. Right now that is lacking, and conclusions need to be reached.
Kane: There are a number of topics that the council should meet head-on during the next four years, including traffic, affordable housing, parks and the library. Some of these items fall under the purview of the council and others involve collaborating with other entities. During meetings with potential constituents, one of the frequent concerns raised has been that of growth. Everyone recognizes that growth is inevitable, and that the East Wenatchee footprint is approximately 30% of the Urban Growth Boundary. Current city boundaries separate neighborhoods and impose artificial boundaries on service providers. Annexation of areas adjacent to our present city boundaries needs to be addressed with an emphasis on a cohesive provision of services with minimal, if any, impact on the tax burden of the affected citizens. The council should ensure that we are providing a welcome and hospitable environment for new businesses, while at the same time supporting our existing business community. Council members should also be business development ambassadors. A strong and vibrant local business community is an essential component of our city.
WW: Are there any changes you'd like to see within the city during your term if elected?
Johnson: I believe that the increase in drug use and violence in our youth is a symptom of kids spending too much time indoors staring at some type of screen, be it television, phones or computers. Kids are losing the ability to communicate with adults and with each other. They are easily bored and turn to unhealthy ways of filling their time. I think we need to focus our efforts on creating more access to outdoor spaces that will encourage kids to pursue healthy, active lifestyles. I’ve long been a proponent of a large-scale outdoor activity center here in East Wenatchee. A good example is a waterpark, such as those found in Chelan and Moses Lake. I know it’s been talked about in the past, but I would like to see it explored again so that I can understand why it hasn’t been pursued.
I would also like to see more events that draw youth together such as the Sunburn Classic that was held this last summer. Any type of outdoor activity that brings us together, and increases tourism to our city, is a win-win for everyone.
Kane: Selection of a new police chief will be a significant change to be addressed by the new mayor and council. I strongly support using the services of a search firm to assure the best possible candidates are presented for consideration. In the same vein, the choice of search firms should be reviewed, and the most capable firm selected from a minimum of three firms specializing in the recruitment of police chiefs.
As mentioned previously, annexation needs to be addressed. Many constituents view the council as being a reactive body, rather than a proactive body, which may be a matter of perception. Time should be taken to ensure the council is looking to the future and championing constituent concerns. I’d like to see this accomplished through a series of focus groups that seek input on key topics. Similarly, the council should take the lead and serve as the catalyst working with the sewer, water, parks, Douglas County PUD and other entities to develop a shared vision of how we are to meet the needs of our future community. Last, but certainly not least, the present mayor and council are to be commended for the job they have done and also for the city’s sound fiscal footing.