Why i'm running
I'm running because we need a new voice on City Council. I know that Philomath deserves better: better city services, better infrastructure, better communication and outreach, better strategy and partnerships, and better community building.
I'm running because the median age in Philomath is 32 years old. Our current city government does not reflect that.
I'm running because I'm a young person in the start of my career, currently renting in Philomath - I know how difficult our housing situation is, and how much the cost of living can squeeze our residents.
I'm running because I believe my experience and my values position me well to listen to this community and respond effectively to your needs.
I'm running because I love Philomath and I want to make it the best little town it can be for every single member of our community.
The best part of living in Philomath is the community. However, the city can do more to build and foster community - this includes investing in community development at the city-owned lot on Main & 14th Street, transforming 13th street into a festival street (while ensuring that local businesses have the tools they need to thrive), and ensuring the success of the Downtown Safety & Streetscapes Improvement Project, which is scheduled to begin construction this November. These projects will completely reimagine our downtown core to make it more bike/pedestrian friendly, more walkable and appealing for businesses, and more pleasant with public art, flowers, benches, bike racks, and other amenities that invite folks to get outside, come downtown, and build our community (and our economy).
But we need to focus on more than just downtown. Our urban growth boundary extends north all the way to West Hills Drive, and yet almost all major parks and city services (City Park, Marys River Park, City Hall, the Police Station, the Library, Public Works, the Schools, etc) are located south of Applegate. We need to invest in public gathering spaces and city services to serve all of our residents, including the growing population north of Main Street.
We also need to invest in public paths and trails outside of downtown that connect neighborhoods and communities. These investments can usually be made relatively inexpensively (when compared to other city infrastructure) but can pay huge dividends to our residents, making our city more walkable/bikeable, reducing traffic, bringing communities together, and encouraging recreation and public gathering.
Outreach & Engagement
We're stronger when we work together.
The City must do a better job of getting out into the community to seek feedback and input from city residents. It's not enough to expect people to come to City Council meetings - we need to go to them. We need to widely publicize opportunities for engagement, and ensure we're reaching renters, not just homeowners and property owners who pay utilities through the City. Let's make sure we go talk to our neighbors before we make decisions that will affect their homes, their families, and their pocketbooks.
I also strive to be accessible to our community, and would continue to do so as a Councilor. Feel free to contact me anytime with questions or concerns about our City (see the "Get Involved" tab for my contact info)!
Outreach opportunities include:
City representation at community events, meeting people where they are
Community coffee events with Councilors and staff
Town-hall style meetings for hot topics that can't fit into public comment periods
Direct mail and neighborhood notification of important opportunities for public engagement for those affected
Comparing city meeting participation and survey response demographics with city demographics to identify underrepresented communities in city governance
Growth Management & Affordability
There is a constant pull in Philomath between our "small town feel" and welcoming additional growth to the city. We can have both.
There is a housing crisis in Oregon, and Philomath can play a role in alleviating that by developing additional housing stock in ways and in locations that make sense and incentivizing affordable housing. Welcoming new neighbors does not ruin our small town feel - but we have to do it right.
Philomath is growing, and it's up to us to manage that growth in a sensible way. Let's concentrate development near our downtown core, where new residents can walk to shopping, dining, and city services, thereby cutting down on additional traffic and environmental impact. Let's ensure that new development is being sustainable with water and energy usage as we face climate realities. Let's ensure that all city residents have easy access to parks and community gathering spaces. And, let's invest our System Development Charges and additional property tax revenue on projects that build and promote community.
We can lower the cost of living in Philomath by building smart housing, incentivizing core private sector development like grocery stores and health services, investing and expanding public transportation and transportation alternatives (like biking and walking), and ensuring that folks don't have to travel far out of town for basic needs. These actions will help our residents and strengthen our community feel.
The issues we face here in Philomath - population growth, housing, water and environmental conservation, transportation and traffic, infrastructure, and economic growth - do not end at our city limits. They are regional issues, and Philomath would be well served by seeking regional solutions and building strong partnerships with our local units of government.
Philomath is lucky to have incredible schools, and robust County and special district services. We must do more to build regional partnerships with other units of government, including the School District, Fire & Rescue District, Benton County, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, Benton Soil & Water Conservation District, LBCC, OSU, and our state and federal partners.
In addition, Philomath has an incredible nonprofit community, with organizations like Philomath Community Services, the Philomath Community Foundation, Strengthening Rural Families, Maxtivity, PYAC, Bountiful Backyard, and so many more who provide incredible benefit to our community. The city can capitalize on the benefits these partners provide by building strong relationships and working to coordinate efforts between organizations in ways that maximize efficient delivery of services.
Infrastructure - Parks, Library, Streets, Water, and Sewer
Providing solid public infrastructure is the core of what City government is all about. As Philomath grows, we need to ensure that our infrastructure is keeping pace and serving our population effectively. This is what your taxes are supposed to pay for, after all!
Much of our infrastructure is out of date, and will be expensive to replace and renew - we need to plan ahead to ensure that these costs don't catch us off guard. We need to ensure the success of the city's ongoing improvements to our streetscapes, sewer lines, and water treatment facilities, while also joining with the community to develop the future expansion of the Philomath Community Library and the development of a potential Philomath Community Center.
We also need to ensure that our infrastructure is accessible to all - many of our sidewalks and public spaces are not fully accessible those with disabilities. If we truly want Philomath to be a place of community, that means making space for every single person.
Service Levels - Police and Public Works
We need strong staffing for public services like police and public works.
Right now, Philomath has just enough police staffing to cover 24/7 service, but no more than that. This means that it can be difficult for police to respond to more than one emergency at once, especially during graveyard hours. In addition, it creates complications when officers are sick or unable to report to work. These issues can lead to delays in response times and the potential for expensive overtime, which is not in the best interest of our taxpayers. As Philomath grows, we must ensure that vital emergency service coverage is growing with it.
In addition, the City has started investing in Code Enforcement. The Code Enforcement officer is a city employee who is unarmed and is not a sworn police officer who can respond to city code violations and complaints which do not present a threat to public safety. These types of investments reduce the burden on Police, reduce the burden on taxpayers, and allow the city to take care of simple violations and community issues without escalating the situation unnecessarily. I'm firmly in favor of this approach, and believe we should continue to invest in it.
Our public works department has also had trouble filling vacant positions. These folks are quite literally the people who keep the water running and the toilet flushing, who fix our roads and who maintain our parks. We need to ensure that we're offering competitive wages and salaries for these positions to aid in recruitment and retention.
Disaster Preparedness & Resiliency
If the last few years have taught us anything, it's that we need to be prepared for the worst.
The City must be better prepared for wildfire, flooding, earthquakes, and other natural disasters that we know threaten our area (and whose threat will only grow). We need to utilize local and regional partnerships with the County, our Schools, our Fire District, and others to help prepare our residents individually and prepare our city collectively.
Emergency preparedness and resiliency means taking care of our most vulnerable residents: we need to be ready to go with clean air shelters for wildfires, cooling resources for heatwaves, warming resources for cold snaps, and comprehensive, up-to-date plans for flood and earthquake response. As these natural threats face us more and more often, we need to be prepared.
We also need to be prepared to care for those outside of our city limits. For most of western Benton County (and anyone who lives on Highway 20 or Highway 34), Philomath is the closest town they can get to. We must work to be able to accommodate these residents should natural disaster strike west of us.