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News

Candidate Survey - Mitch Everton
6/4/13
Mitch Everton

1. What in your background of experience makes you the best candidate?

Our city needs a plan, a vision, and an ability to execute. I combine the educational foundation (MBA—UC Berkeley, strategic planning/marketing) with the work experience to get this done. I facilitated a strategic plan for the Anacortes School Board and have since formed a practice state-wide to do the same for other school districts. I was an integral part of taking a technology start-up from inception to 1,400 employees and a public offering in six years. I have run a series of successful small businesses in Anacortes. And I have served at a board level on many local cultural and philanthropic organizations. Finally, I ran the Chamber during a particularly challenging period. In concert with a great staff, I helped modernize the organization, while increasing membership by 50%.

2. Describe how you would value and use public input to guide how you make decisions on controversial issues facing our community?

Public input is vital. In 2010, Makers brought over 700 members of our community together to attempt to define a common vision. We need to renew and validate that process, ensuring that everyone who wants to contribute has that opportunity. On an ongoing basis, we need to use Citizen Advisory Groups, representing wide swaths of our community, to provide effective input. Finally we need to ensure that our culture reflects a willingness to listen. If people have strong opinions on any issue that comes before the city, they need to be heard and their voices respected.

3. What do you anticipate the city’s relationship should be with the local tribes? How would you help the city enhance those relationships?

The tribes should be seen as partners. It is vital that the city maintain open lines of communication and that mutual concerns be addressed. I would advocate regular meetings with tribal leadership so that issues remain current and personal relationships are allowed to develop. In my experience this is vital to effective problem solving.

4. In your view should the city prioritize new manufacturing/high tech jobs to our community? If yes, how would you support that effort? In no, why not?

The city’s record over the past 15 years in addressing living-wage employment is dismal. Without a strategic plan, we have found it virtually impossible to compete effectively. The types of jobs that we need to attract—knowledge-based, technology, marine R&D—would provide a living-wage without harming our environment. These are exactly the types of jobs that we should strive for—as every other city is also doing. The mayor is an important part of the effort—acting as a catalyst rather than simply a steward. In a word, we need a mayor who is willing to hustle. To that end, I will actively work to outreach to entrepreneurs and technology firms through trade shows and other media which provide a chance to sell our city.

5. What would you do to remove the perception of the anti-business climate in Anacortes?

The one thing that businesses (and investors) hate most is uncertainty. Through an effective strategic plan, we would largely remove the crutch of conditional use. We would streamline the approval process in line with the direction provided by our community. We could also form bridges to the private sector through effective partnerships. Think about a private-public partnership at the ferry dock—a retail hub with stores and restaurants serving a captive audience and the sales tax revenue that could provide. This is one of many ideas that would likely come out of an effective and inclusive planning process.


6. How would you assist the development of the working waterfront?

The 75 acres of our waterfront owned by MJB has lain largely fallow for the past 22 years. It is an eyesore and non-productive for the both the city and the landowner. I would forge an active discussion that produces an acceptable way forward for both parties. The focus would be mixed use from 17th-22nd and industrial use south of that. Within this context, living-wage marine industrial jobs would be the preferred alternative. If other opportunities presented themselves, especially marine R&D and other knowledge-based employment, I would advocate taking a hard look.

7. How would you cultivate a relationship with MJB to develop their Anacortes property?

The relationship between city hall and MJB ownership has been poisonous. Many things have been said over the past 20 years that can’t be taken back. There is little trust in evidence on either side. A future approach needs to be collaborative and incremental. A clear view should emerge re: what the city will allow and what MJB can accept. Then the planning process needs to move forward in a measured way. New leadership can bring a new approach.

8. What is your number one priority in supporting small business interests?

Our city does not effectively support small business. Think about the Commercial roundabout, constructed during the height of the tourist season several years ago so the city could save a few bucks. Small businesses paid for that work through lost profits. Our city needs to listen to the needs of small business and to find ways to make our city more vibrant. The Chamber plays an active role in this regard. The mayor and the Chamber need to collaborate effectively, working together to properly market the city and develop a brand that visitors recognize and respect.

9. What are the top two economic development tools the city has for attracting manufacturing jobs? How should they be used?

Our city charter defines an Economic Development Corporation, which has never been used to significant effect. I would promote this tool, using it as a fulcrum for the various development needs that we have. There are many diverse interests in our city, often working at cross-purposes—we need to all be rowing in the same direction. The other obvious tool is the city’s water resources. Our water should be used as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. And that end should be the creation of living-wage jobs for Anacortes, not for Sedro-Woolley.

10. Please describe the process most small business owners take to be in compliance with city, county, state and federal tax laws?

I have run a series of small businesses. The licensing process is fairly straightforward. Firms with employees must ensure that payroll taxes are being withheld and paid correctly and on time. The onerous piece for most small business owners is L&I. In my view, this function needs to be privatized. Anyone who has ever had to deal with this agency knows that L&I is overwhelmed and overpriced, with a service that does not effectively meet the needs of workers. Compliance with L&I requirements is unnecessarily complex and confusing. 46 states have gone away from state-run programs. WA should as well.

11. What is your the top priority in office?

My top priority in office is the development of a strategic plan. We need to validate the Futures Project work done in 2010 and then complete the plan, as should have happened in 2011. Then we need to go back to the community and make sure that we got it right. Then we need to adopt and implement it. Then we need to execute on the plan. An effective, well-conceived plan will allow voters to hold city leadership accountable.

12. How would you interface with our representatives in Olympia to protect our small businesses?

I would work diligently with our state representatives. I made many trips to Olympia in my role as Chamber Director. Our newest rep—Kris Lytton—was a colleague for many years on the Anacortes School Board.



13. Please explain the city’s water rights and why they are important to the future of our community.

The city’s water rights, codified in ‘90s agreements, are a vital component to our local economy. Anacortes provides water services through an established infrastructure to a wide variety of users—municipalities, the refineries, and residents. Our water rights provide a sustainable competitive advantage in attracting living-wage jobs. We remain significantly under our daily allocation—this is an area for future development and should be a key piece of strategic planning.


Candidate Survey - Brian Geer
6/4/13
Brian Geer

1. What in your background of experience makes you the best candidate?

With 20+ years of service to the community as a volunteer, community organizer and a city councilman, I know how to bring different groups together for a common cause. My management style is a team approach through cooperative development, leveraging current assets to better improve the cities position. This is a strategic approach and requires a planning process that not only lays out a vision but a road map on how we will proceed with tangible, measurable goals.

2. Describe how you would value and use public input to guide how you make decisions on controversial issues facing our community?

It has been my experience that communication, or the lack of it, will often lead to controversy and confusion. We, the community, have worked in the past have come together to create a vision for the future with our thoughts and ideas go into binders that end up on the shelf. Why did the communication stop, why aren’t we talking about how to implement some or all of these ideas.
Your Mayor should have a vision for the community but more importantly be able to recognize and work with the visions of others in the community and find a path that best benefits Anacortes.

3. What do you anticipate the city’s relationship should be with the local tribes? We should keep a healthy working relationship with the tribes with an understanding that each tribe has a vision of how they want to grow and prosper. By communicating and sharing ideas for growth we can better plan our community and the surrounding area.

How would you help the city enhance those relationships?

I would engage our local tribes with open dialogue and look into ways that, as neighbors, we could leverage our relationships to improve our respective communities.

4. In your view should the city prioritize new manufacturing/high tech jobs to our community? If yes, how would you support that effort? In no, why not?

Yes, we need to strengthen the work force by providing family wage jobs. While this is much easier said than done, it can be done. We need to do a comprehensive review of our zoning and permit processes so that out process is fair and equitable for anyone that wants to do business with Anacortes. We need to draw on the strengths of our city partners, the Port, Chamber of Commerce, and the school district. We need to utilize our local small business leaders and engage community leaders to find ways to incentivize and attract industry and manufacturing.

5. What would you do to remove the perception of the anti-business climate in Anacortes?

With out pasting from question 5, we can start erasing this perception by creating a focused plan that maps out how we want to grow. We engage our city partners and create a business plan. Most business owners created a plan before they opened their business and continue to plan while they are in business, the city should do the same. The key is to plan for the type of industry and manufacturing you want then go after it. Again, it takes a lot of hard work to get to that point.

6. How would you assist the development of the working waterfront?

Being surrounded by water and deep channel ports we should be working with the port and private property owners to continue to develop and maintain a working, thriving waterfront. The port has successfully, and strategically, changed many waterfront areas and continues to plan for the future. The city should be an active partner in that process.

7. How would you cultivate a relationship with MJB to develop their Anacortes property?

The relationship between the current administration and MJB is one that can not be repaired. While decades of back and forth have amounted to no successful resolution with MJB, we continue to be a city surrounded by water with no true waterfront. We can thank the Port of Anacortes for doing its part to bring the city to the waters edge.
I would reach out to MJB to start an open dialogue. We must create a foundation of trust before we can move forward with any kind of cooperative agreement to open our waterfront.

8. What is your number one priority in supporting small business interests?

A majority of small businesses in Anacortes have had to try and survive an economic downturn by doing as much business as they can during the summer where festivals bring in thousands of people only to spend the fall and winter making ends meet. The lack of vision over the last several decades has left us with no true direction as a city. We should be planning for the economic drivers that sustain small businesses and provides improved services. We can not just continue to budget through a crisis and hope that something comes our way. Small business will not survive this kind of management.

9. What are the top two economic development tools the city has for attracting manufacturing jobs?

We have an LM area that is underutilized and generates little to no revenue for the city, revenue that is needed to increase and enhance our city services, like public safety.

The second is the water that surrounds us. The city needs to do a better job of laying out a plan to enhance our opportunities for the water front.

How should they be used?

We need to leverage these areas to create a stronger workforce and to create a city people put in their vacation plans and not see as just a pass through to get to the Islands or to deception pass.

10. Please describe the process most small business owners take to be in compliance with city, county, state and federal tax laws?

Small business is a labor of love and frustration. Tax laws and the paperwork that goes with it are very burdensome and have a great impact on finances. With taxes and fees imposed at every level of government taking money, it’s a wonder any small business can stay above water. I don’t think most people realize how much time is spent just doing the paperwork necessary to keep up with all of it.

11. What is your the top priority in office?

Leverage the city’s current abilities, assets and partners to create a community development plan that utilizes recent local economic studies and the resources available to create a sustainable future for Anacortes. This is a long process and it needs to start now.

12. How would you interface with our representatives in Olympia to protect our small businesses?

The chamber has come a long way in the last two years and is very successful in engaging our state leaders. I would use my position as mayor to strengthen the process and make sure to engage with the chamber to keep a pulse on what the needs of the small business community are for Anacortes.

13. Please explain the city’s water rights and why they are important to the future of our community.

Our water rights date back to the 1930’s. We are allotted 54.9 Million gallons of un interruptible water a day. Anacortes is in a position of being a water utility and sells water to other cities and industries.
Water is one of the key elements to attracting larger industry and manufacturing to the area and must be a vital part of any strategic planning we engage in. We must utilize this resource wisely to attract the kind of business that will strength our cities workforce and in turn our prosperity.


Candidate Survey - Laurie Gere
6/4/13
Laurie Gere

1. What in your background of experience makes you the best candidate?

My collaborative leadership style; understanding of the needs of the business community; and record of community service equip me to lead the City.

First, I will approach the Mayor’s job with a collaborative leadership style developed through my many years of community service and managing a business. I know how to bring people together so they can work as a team and accomplish their goals.

Second, I have successfully steered my business—in an industry known for its high rate of failure-- through 32 years of economic ups and downs. I understand the business community and the difficulties facing the small business owner. My business represents a long-term investment in this community—I live here, I work here, and my son and grandchildren live here.

Third, my years of volunteer service on the Chamber Board, the Planning Commission, and as a Hospital Commissioner have given me in-depth knowledge about this community and its needs. My passion is community service, and I have made a serious commitment to working to make Anacortes a better place. These posts also have honed my leadership skills and abilities, especially in terms of working with people, developing a visioning process, and creating a roadmap to get us where we want to go.


2. Describe how you would value and use public input to guide how you make decisions on controversial issues facing our community?

Through my years of managing a business and serving on a range of community boards and commissions I have learned the importance of collaboration and openness. We have a wealth of talent living here in Anacortes, and I want to draw out the best ideas of the whole community. We are a diverse community and that is a great strength to draw on so we don’t become locked into one way of looking at issues or of falling into the trap of “group think.” I believe that it is important to make sure that citizens are informed in a timely fashion about the issues facing the City, which is why I support making City documents easily available and searchable on line. This should pay for itself by reducing the cost of records requests from the public. Finally, many controversies can be prevented entirely or defused if there is a full airing of the issues prior to making a decision.



3. What do you anticipate the city’s relationship should be with the local tribes? How would you help the city enhance those relationships?

The Tribes are our friends and neighbors, and we need to continue to work with them in a collaborative manner. I would work to enhance the relationship by proposing to hold regular meetings and informal conversations with tribal leaders. I would invite tribal members to attend and participate at City Council meetings and other public forums, and I would like to attend and to see other City officials attend tribal gatherings. By working together we can help understand and meet our respective goals.

4. In your view should the city prioritize new manufacturing/high tech jobs to our community? If yes, how would you support that effort? In no, why not?

We live on an island with limited transportation infrastructure, which curtails our ability to move large quantities of “hard” products to market. I support prioritizing high tech industries, small, environmentally-friendly manufacturing plants, and service industry jobs, which would be compatible with our community. We need a diverse job base to ease economic ups and downs and to avoid dependence on one or two large facilities or industries. High-tech and IT jobs usually provide higher wages than traditional manufacturing jobs and are less susceptible to outsourcing and automation. Our growing health care facilities also offer opportunities for a range of employment opportunities from the semi-skilled to skilled to professionals, and we need to find ways to attract complementary businesses.

We need to provide the infrastructure that will support knowledge workers and their companies, including city-wide, free access to the internet and necessary fiber optic capabilities. These kinds of improvements will provide a strong base from which to market our advantages to attract compatible businesses.

We need a marketing plan. I want a performance-based contract with a firm whose mission is to market Anacortes as a great place to live, work and play. A place to start will be with the City’s Willette Business Park—which currently is unoccupied- but has good access to the freeway and nearby airports.

5. What would you do to remove the perception of the anti-business climate in Anacortes?

First, we need to make sure that our land-use code is clear and unambiguous. This will help both property owners and developers understand what is—and is not—allowed in different areas of the city. Clear rules and regulations prevent costly delays for both the city and developer and reduce the likelihood of costly litigation.

Second, we need to ensure that our regulations and processes are clear and efficient without sacrificing essential environmental and safety standards. We need to scrutinize the fees applicable to new businesses and determine if they are in line with what other communities are charging.

Third, we should examine whether the City needs to assign an employee to serve as a point person to help new businesses negotiate regulations and infrastructure requirements, like sewer hookups.

Finally, I want an aggressive marketing plan that lets investors know that for the right kind of businesses, Anacortes is a great place to locate. Our natural beauty, recreational opportunities, schools, health care and work force can attract the kinds of opportunities that fit our Island community.

6. How would you assist the development of the working waterfront?

I would certainly continue to build a strong working relationship with the Port and to break down barriers that inhibit communication. The City and the Port need to coordinate efforts—to work in tandem—to attract marine business that would complement our existing marine industries.

I support the Port’s North Basin project and would look to what the City, for its part, could to do to enhance it, especially through improved connectivity. For example, we could utilize the Depot and the adjoining Maritime Heritage Center to develop more family-friendly, waterfront-related activities for residents and visiting boaters. This could be a festive hub!

The Maritime Heritage Center could be developed into a place for maritime-related activities and educational programs, including lectures and hands-on activities for the entire family, especially during the summer months. We have an active volunteer group that could help us jump-start these programs. This would enhance our identity as a marine and maritime-centric community, which would in turn attract visitors and related businesses.

7. How would you cultivate a relationship with MJB to develop their Anacortes property?

MJB has presented a request for a rezone of a portion of its property on R Ave, north of 28th St. This opens up some new and potentially exciting possibilities for our City. We need to remember that this property has lain fallow for many years, with lost potential revenues for the city. We should be thinking carefully about potential revenue-generating projects that would provide jobs, fit or even enhance our current business mix, increase our tax base, and draw people into our community.

Before any decision is made, however, I would want to see a City-wide visioning process for the project to ensure that it fits into our overall strategic plan. An open dialogue with citizens and MJB is key to finding the right project for this important site. We need to hear what citizens want and what MJB is proposing before decisions are made.

8. What is your number one priority in supporting small business interests?

As a successful small business owner myself, I know the importance of mentoring. We are fortunate to have many local and regional resources, including our own Chamber of Commerce, EDASC, the Washington State Departments of Commerce, and Labor and Industries, which can provide coaching and a variety of services including on-site visits. If elected, I promise to make myself available to small business owners for coaching and assistance. And I want to hear from business owners about their needs and what the City can do to facilitate their success. Successful businesses make for a vibrant community!

9. What are the top two economic development tools the city has for attracting manufacturing jobs? How should they be used?

Many manufacturing jobs can be outsourced or automated. That’s why I believe our future lies with high tech, IT, research and development, and service jobs, which will fit well with our Island community and environment. EDASC provides helpful services for new companies locating here as does our own Chamber of Commerce. In addition, we could look at establishing an Economic Development Corporation as described in the Anacortes Code (2.68) but never implemented. In addition, I will explore the option of a performance-based contract with a firm that is charged with developing an aggressive marketing plan for our City to attract the kinds of businesses that will fit the vision we will develop.

We have many advantages to offer a prospective business—our educated work force, good schools, quality health care, natural beauty, and great quality of life. We have the strategically-located, but unoccupied, Willette Business Park. These are the kinds of resources that can be leveraged to attract new businesses.

10. Please describe the process most small business owners take to be in compliance with city, county, state and federal tax laws?

All businesses must register with the Washington Department of Revenue for a business license. They are then issued a UBI number that in turn registers a business with the City, Department of Labor and Industries, and the Department of Employment Security. Each business is required to collect sales tax and electronically file reports and payments weekly or monthly depending upon the size of the business. Businesses must register separately with the IRS as a small business or corporation and file monthly or quarterly reports for all employee taxes and business tax payments. Depending upon their industry, companies may have to comply with the regulations of other agencies. For example, restaurants have to obtain a license from the Department of Health, comply with the Health Department’s rules and regulations, and undergo unannounced inspections.



11. What is your the top priority in office?

My top priority will be to develop a community vision and strategic plan to guide us in our decisions. We’ve laid some ground work already on this through the Anacortes Futures Project and through the earlier Burk study (2006). However, neither of these plans has been completed, nor has a strategic plan or roadmap been developed to ensure that we realize our vision. As an Island Hospital Commissioner, I have been part of the team that developed a vision and then a strategic plan to keep our healthcare local and to map a way to get us there.

An essential part of any community visioning process is broad-based involvement of all the stakeholders in our City—citizens, the Port, schools, businesses and industries, marine representatives, social services—everyone. We are fortunate to have many talented people living here, and we need to engage and utilize their ideas and skills.

12. How would you interface with our representatives in Olympia to protect our small businesses?

I would cultivate new, and deepen existing, relationships with all our representatives in Olympia through ongoing communication and contact. As mayor, I will be an advocate for the City and its interests and will bring constituents’ concerns to our representatives. Furthermore, I will work to ensure passage of legislation that will benefit Anacortes and Skagit County.

13. Please explain the city’s water rights and why they are important to the future of our community.

In 1996, the City entered into a 50-year Memorandum of Agreement covering utilization of Skagit River Basin water. Under the MOA, the parties, which included the City; Skagit PUD; Skagit County; the Swinomish, Upper Skagit, and Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribes; and the State Departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife, committed to cooperate in addressing ongoing water-resource issues within the Skagit River watershed. This document has been at the center of multiple lawsuits involving the City.

Although the 1996 MOA allocated just under 76 million gallons a day (mgd) of Skagit River water to Anacortes, the City has rights to a little less than 55 mgd. Currently, the City withdraws about 21 mgd. Revenues from the sale of water go into the water utility fund, which covers costs and pays for upgrades. The City charges the lowest water rates in Northwestern Washington, which makes it an attractive location for water-dependent industries, such as the oil refineries.

An ample, clean supply of water—now and in the future—is essential to meet the needs of residential customers, farms and businesses. The City is very fortunate to have this important resource, and we must utilize it prudently.


Candidate Survey - Dean Maxwell
6/4/13
Dean Maxwell

1. What in your background of experience makes you the best candidate?

I have a full understanding of our community’s rich history and current needs, including nearly 20 years working in the private sector, managing my own business and serving Anacortes on the Board of Adjustment, the City Council, and as a Reserve Police Officer.

I’m the only candidate with experience managing the city and have built a strong record of accomplishments. We maintain the lowest property tax rates of all cities in the county; balanced budgets each of the past 20 years, maintain strong reserves and achieved the city’s highest bond ratings ever.

Anacortes is a “Strong Mayor” government; the Mayor serves as Chief Executive and Administrative Officer in charge of all departments and employees and presides over all meetings of the City Council. Anacortes runs 10 city departments, 185 employees and works with 4 bargaining units. The Mayor provides direction for the Library, Finance, Medic/Fire, Human Resources, Legal, Museum, Parks, Planning & Community Development, Police, and Public Works.

Under my management we navigated the worst recession and economic collapse in our country in 80 years, without cutting services.

In addition to the duties of operating municipal government, the Mayor has the additional responsibility of managing a water utility and its complexities and liabilities.

2. Describe how you would value and use public input to guide how you make decisions on controversial issues facing our community?

Two types of process are used to address most issues that come before a City Council. Quasi-judicial public hearings involve the legal rights of specific parties, and the decisions made as a result of such hearings must be based upon and supported by the "record" developed at the hearings.There are specific opportunities for the Public to provide information to the Planning Commission/Council in a quasi-judicial proceeding.

A legislative hearing is used to obtain public input on legislative decisions affecting matters of policy. Legislative hearings are required by state law when a city addresses such matters as comprehensive land use plans or the annual budget. Legislative public hearings are generally less formal than quasi-judicial hearings. They do not involve the legal rights of specific, private parties in a contested setting, but rather affect a wider range of citizens or perhaps an entire jurisdiction. On the other hand, comprehensive plans in Growth Management Act (GMA) counties may be reviewed by a growth management hearings board, and maybe later by a court, for consistency with the GMA.

In all cases, quasi-judicial or legislative public hearings testimony or written submissions are used by City Council to help them evaluate, better understand, mitigate and make better informed decisions.

3. What do you anticipate the city’s relationship should be with the local tribes? How would you help the city enhance those relationships?

The United States recognized American Indian Nations, and local tribes, the Samish and Swinomish, through a treaty-making process. Like other treaty obligations of the United States these treaties are considered “the supreme law of the land.” Tribes possess the right to form their own governments and to license and regulate activities within their jurisdiction and to zone their land.

Relationship building between our neighboring governments plays a key role in developing effective, efficient, working governments and thriving communities. Building these relationships requires effort, understanding, commitment and trust.

Anacortes is appreciative of our good relationships with tribal governments here and in our region. Collectively with three of the tribes, we developed a landmark agreement on water rights.
We meet regularly with the Swinomish and Samish and work well with each. Working in collaboration each of our members benefit and we have shared in celebrations for highway improvements and infrastructure improvements that benefit our region. Our tribes serve and participate on our Regional Transportation Planning Board.

Anacortes signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Samish Indian Nation in 2003 which outlines that our governments will work together to eliminate duplication of services and reduce costs. The Samish was one of the first to give money to rebuild our trestle after the fire. Chairman Wooten and I attended school together and I often meet with Chairman Cladoosby of the Swinomish. Both tribes are good friends and neighbors.


4. In your view should the city prioritize new manufacturing/high tech jobs to our community? If yes, how would you support that effort? In no, why not?

We benefit from some of the lowest property taxes in Skagit County because we support manufacturing jobs. Diversity of business and manufacturing strengthens Anacortes, adding needed jobs and providing disposable income, a tax base and the associated revenues used to support services and institutions like our schools. Employees spend and invest in a community where they live. The loss of 10 million jobs in America in the last decade should concern each of us, and we must find a way for the next generations to have a chance at the quality of life we enjoyed. It is projected that an additional 100,000 people will call this valley home in the next 50 years. Without new revenues our community will be unable to support the level of service demand the community will require; tourism will not support us and higher taxes will put additional pressures on a retirement population. We have land available that is zoned and suited for light manufacturing, and we continue to support high tech, job-creating opportunities. We are well positioned to take advantage of the re-shoring of manufacturing jobs that is taking place today. We have infrastructure required to support manufacturing jobs, and America has some of the lowest energy prices anywhere, making a shift of jobs back to America realistic.

Many of the social issues we face -- jail overcrowding, crime, broken families, and 50% of the children in our school district qualifying for the free or reduced lunch program -- exist because families can’t find work that supports stability of homes, and we are in danger of losing the American Dream.

5. What would you do to remove the perception of the anti-business climate in Anacortes?

As an elected leader you have a responsibility of working to improve the quality of life in your community. You can’t ignore problems, and you don’t have the luxury of listening to only the loudest voices; your job is to consider what is good and what is needed for the whole community. I wouldn’t characterize Anacortes as anti-business generally, although there are some in our town who oppose change.

Anacortes has a history and a tradition of providing good jobs for residents throughout our history, and as a result we have been able to make it through some pretty difficult times, including this last recession. We need to be able to execute and take advantage of those things we have planned and put in place for our future. Although many of our resource-based traditional industries have moved away, we’re still a community that offers much opportunity moving forward. We need to define and execute that opportunity, and I believe that by working through our comprehensive plan update that is required to be completed by 2016 we will be able to get the whole community involved in the discussion of what is wanted and needed for the future of the Anacortes Community. When that understanding and comp plan is complete I am confident that we will have additional clarity to use to chart our community’s path forward. It is during these discussions that we learn collectively, and through this discussion we will make our decisions regarding the future of the Anacortes community.

6. How would you assist the development of the working waterfront?

We have proactively worked to assert our right to use our waterfront for traditional economic activity and take advantage of other opportunities on behalf of our community. We worked to create “The Fidalgo Bay Plan” to mitigate eelgrass impacts in Fidalgo Bay. Dakota Creek Industries used this work to move forward with millions of dollars in improvements at their site. When challenged by outside interests who wanted to buffer our access to our working waterfront we won our case at the State Supreme Court, preserving our traditional opportunities to have business along our waterfront.

We were one of the first cities in the state to get our Shoreline Master Plan approved that clarifies how we can move forward with our trail plans for the Guemes Channel and preserves our ability to keep and be able to expand waterfront uses for business activity. As a result MJB Properties has been able to add a ramp and will be adding finger piers for a large travel lift with access to Fidalgo Bay. The City of Anacortes worked with hundreds of slip owners in Skyline and managed a dredging project which improved access to the marina and public access waterways and slips. We also own and maintain a boat ramp and finger pier launch and lease land to provide our marine industry access to Fidalgo Bay.

7. How would you cultivate a relationship with MJB to develop their Anacortes property?

We have supported the MJB property owners many times over the years, helping to bring BMW Oracle and Americas Cup boat building to our community, as well as encouraging them when other opportunities to use their properties present themselves. We worked with them to establishing dry stack storage project and on their improvements on the southern part of their property. We have allowed them access over city property so they can add pubic space improvements. We permitted them to access Fidalgo Bay for a new boat ramp and continue to work with them permitting a new finger pier and that will provide a large 150-ton travel lift that will move larger boats in and out of the water and create new business opportunity here. In the past we supported their efforts and proposal to the Department of Natural Resources to build a graving facility, possibly affording them an opportunity to build replacement floating bridges for Washington State.

We eagerly look forward to their sub-area planning process and the related community process which they have submitted for their property north of 22nd Street.


8. What is your number one priority in supporting small business interests?

My goal is to help set the table for small businesses to consider Anacortes as a good place to live and work. We’ve already done that for restaurants by restructuring sewer hook-up fees to reduce start-up costs, keeping downtown attractive and walkable, and supporting the chamber’s visitor marketing efforts which includes things like watering the beautiful flower baskets, providing accessible public restrooms, installing good way-finding signage, and permitting sidewalk venue activity. Given the changing shopping patterns of American consumers, offering additional retail opportunities here is a challenge, but it’s one we continue to work on by supporting mixed-use development downtown and in other locations that will improve available retail-space inventory. Keeping property taxes low, which makes investment more attractive, and keeping our service levels high continue to be priorities for me.



9. What are the top two economic development tools the city has for attracting manufacturing jobs? How should they be used?

We have pursued and built a very robust infrastructure that now allows us to take advantage of an available land base that is zoned appropriately and to be used for manufacturing. Anacortes and most other cities exist today because they are able to create an economy based on strategic location, or because they have access to resources, which were then turned into product for purchased by others.

Today as in our past we need to take advantage of our assets. We have the opportunity to utilize our water utility to help support industry and create a job base required to keep us solvent, healthy, prosperous and viable.

10. Please describe the process most small business owners take to be in compliance with city, county, state and federal tax laws?

Navigating the many governmental jurisdictions that require regular tax information is a necessary chore for small businesses. Thankfully, small business owners don’t have to deal with county government typically, and the city and state have partnered where possible, in business licensing for example, to provide a single place to register and report business activity. Payments for sales tax collection, worker’s compensation insurance and employment security are done online today with a single sign-on via the state’s SecureAccess website. Federal wage and tax reporting is also done online today. Small business owners who still rely on manual bookkeeping are now at a disadvantage in this environment, but there are many excellent software solutions available that make managing these tasks much easier than when I ran my own business.


11. What is your the top priority in office?

My top priority and the driving factors behind my administration are to provide Anacortes with as many opportunities as I can that support our mission statement which reads as follows.

“The mission of the City of Anacortes is to maintain and improve the quality of life reflecting community expectations through a focus on public participation and employees-mayor-council teamwork.”

I helped to write this mission statement when I served on the City Council. By encouraging cooperation and through collaborative efforts we have seen many wonderful improvements in the quality of life here in Anacortes. We have built parks, a library and police station, water treatment plants, preserved and added more forestland, created jobs and job opportunities. We have regained access to our waterfront with more to come, worked with service groups and volunteers, added an arts commission, added a historic preservation board, balanced budgets and achieved our highest bond ratings in the city’s history in the middle of the worst recession in 80 years.

12. How would you interface with our representatives in Olympia to protect our small businesses?

I am fully engaged with the community, including small business owners and the Chamber, and our elected officials at all levels. I encourage department heads and supervisors to develop relationships with legislators while they are in Olympia and while they are at home. Without this feedback our legislators remain in a vacuum.

On May 29 all three legislators from the 40th District held a town hall meeting to address questions about the Skagit River Bridge. During the meeting I encouraged our legislators to make infrastructure a priority in their budget talks in Olympia. My comments were broader than just the bridge. In Anacortes we purposely have built a business-friendly infrastructure. If the same approach were applied at the state level we could all benefit.

Annually we develop legislative priorities and work with the Association of Washington Cities to further our priorities. We talk, write, and call our legislators. I am proud that my staff has spoken in Olympia on multiple issues. I truly believe that when our legislators understand the effect of their proposed legislation on their jurisdictions that it makes an impact on how they vote.

I will continue to partner with other elected officials to communicate with and to lobby for the benefit of small businesses in our community. I have them all on speed dial and when I call they answer.

13. Please explain the city’s water rights and why they are important to the future of our community.

Anacortes has owned water rights in the Skagit River since 1931. Our water rights are “senior” rights second only to Swinomish tribal rights outlined in the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot. In 1996 we certified our rights as part of a landmark “Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Utilization Of Skagit River Basin Water Resources For In-stream and Out of Stream Purposes.” All parties with standing, including the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, participated. Integral in this agreement was avoiding future litigation and adjudication of water resources. The Tribes agreed not to challenge any Skagit River Basin water rights claims or adjustments made by the City or Skagit PUD within 50 years.

From the early days of Anacortes, beginning in 1890 when a few citizen visionaries invested money in water works knowing that economic development was impossible without a clean supply of reliable water, Anacortes has continued as a regional provider of water. Water is required for residential development and for manufacturing and industry. Industry in this region has helped to keep our property taxes the lowest of any city in Skagit County. Dedicating a new plant we a few weeks ago, we solidified our role as the regional water provider and the opportunities that will bring. This is one of the greatest assets Anacortes has today.




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