Clallam County Commissioner
Focus. Vision. Partnerships. Leadership.
In my first term I established a record of building creative and effective partnerships to solve problems – a sign of my fair-mindedness and an endorsement of my leadership.
The next four years will require focus to maintain a healthy county budget, vision to support a vibrant county economy, new partnerships to solve vexing issues, and engaging leadership that brings others on board to help.
It’s an honor to serve as your County Commissioner.
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Planning for emergencies is an ongoing effort, and I am proud to have elevated the Commissioners’ attention regarding this important work.
Under my leadership, the Commissioners have begun regular FEMA training to ensure we’re prepared to provide appropriate leadership in a crisis. We are working closely with the Sheriff and other partners to relocate our Emergency Operation Center to a seismically sound location. We are even reviewing County Ordinance addressing fire danger as the threat of wildfire increases in drought years like this one.
Ensuring we are doing all that we can to be prepared, and to prepare county citizens, for events ranging from the Cascadia earthquake to wildfire to man-made disasters like oil spills is one of my most challenging – and most important – jobs.
We believe strongly in the vital nature of local oversight, and the struggle to define and defend our role has required creativity and perseverance.
As Washington State moves to fully integrate physical and behavioral health care, I have been working closely with Commissioners from Jefferson and Kitsap Counties to ensure that local officials retain a role in providing oversight and guidance of our behavioral health care system as we navigate health care transformation.
This is particularly important in Clallam County where many of our service providers are struggling to develop contracts and create the new reporting and billing protocols to work with three new managed care companies.
This effort is among my top priorities and I will continue to work with fellow Commissioners, the Health Care Authority, the Olympic Community of Health and our many providers to do all I can to help set up our county for success.
I have provided the key leadership necessary to transform our County’s Public Records program.
Within months of my taking office, the Commissioners were faced with addressing a serious financial liability due to poor management of public records. I pulled a team together to plan a new approach and worked with the other Commissioners to identify and allocate the funds necessary for its implementation.
I am proud to say that Clallam County now boasts a Public Records Office that provides exceptional customer service in response to the thousands of requests we get each year while greatly reducing our exposure to risk and liability. Our team even trains other counties across the state in the best practices we’ve developed!
When I took office, morale among county employees was at a low point. I was pointedly asked, “What are you going to do about it?”
I take this question seriously. I value our county workforce and see daily the benefits we all enjoy as a result of their professional and thoughtful efforts.
First and foremost, I have engendered a style of leadership that prioritizes listening and mutual respect, the impact of which is underscored by the honor of being elected Chair of the Board by my fellow Commissioners for each of the last three years.
As an organization we are emphasizing planning rather than simply reacting, working to ensure that vital institutional knowledge is not lost as long-time staff retire and building a thoughtful capital planning process across departments.
I led the effort to change representation to assist the county with contract negotiations with the unions representing county employees, resulting in the most positive round of bargaining the county has experienced in years while saving several hundred thousand dollars in expenses compared to previous years.
The internal functioning of the courthouse has required much more focus and attention than I ever anticipated and I am thrilled to be seeing such positive results.
I provide key leadership in developing a meaningful dialogue about climate change in Clallam County as well as pursuing significant climate change mitigation projects.
I am working with others to find ways to reduce the county’s carbon footprint through improved efficiencies and a focus on reducing the solid waste stream.
After working throughout 2018 to develop support for and then pass a Resolution calling for the County Commissioners to actively engage the community in the topic of climate change, this year I have helped to plan and implement a series of public presentations across the county to highlight the impacts that climate change is already having on local industries and communities, from ocean acidification, to increasing wildfire danger, to water scarcity.
The Commissioners will follow up with a series of structured opportunities for civil engagement and conversation, using a format known as a “Jefferson Dinner” to learn from citizens across the county what type of climate change policy they would like to see at a local level.
I am also providing leadership and helping coordinate the effort to design and build a new reservoir, next to the Dungeness River, that will help citizens (and endangered fish) in District 1 be more resilient as we navigate a future of lower snowpack in the Olympic Mountains – the need for which will surely be evidenced again in 2019 as we experience our second declared drought emergency in the last four years.
We are consistently working to maintain focus on reducing the county’s carbon footprint. At times this takes the form of policy that encourages the use of efficient vehicles; other times it is an investment of capital dollars in more efficient equipment such as HVAC systems in county facilities.
The most exciting work being done around the impact on our collective carbon footprint is in a somewhat unexpected arena; reducing our solid waste stream with a focus on reducing or eliminating food waste. I have successfully advocated for increased funding for the WSU Extension Office to help bolster these efforts as well as serving on the Solid Waste Advisory Committee which affords opportunities to improve recycling efforts while making meaningful decisions around the future of solid waste in our county.
I am excited to continue to be the voice ensuring that Clallam County is a part of the solution around local climate change policy, providing creative leadership and programming that is already having a positive impact. I would appreciate your vote so that together we can maintain focus on this vital policy arena.