Street and Sidewalk Repair
The City of Centralia needs to continue investing in our streets and sidewalks. In 2015, the residents passed a ballot measure creating the Transportation Benefit District. This 2/10 of a cent tax on sales in the City generates over $650,00 per year dedicated solely to our streets. During strategic planning meetings I advocated and supported funding more projected through the Transportation Benefit District and our Streets budget.
I am a leading advocate in the repair of Borst Avenue between the Centralia Middle School and Centralia High School. As a father of two young children, I could not ask other parents to send their students walking down that street if I were not willing to send mine. The road, like many in our community, is a danger to our students and residents. Lewis County joined the City of Centralia to present many options to the community and in 2019, work on Borst Avenue improvement will begin.
I am proud to say that in 2019, the City’s Street Department budget is $1.3 million with more than $900,000 dedicated to street repair, including the long awaited Borst Avenue Project. If re-elected, I will continue to advocate larger arterial projects, as well as smaller street, alley, and sidewalk projects.
Flooding is the single most important issues negatively impacting job growth, economic development, and inter/intrastate commerce in our region. I strongly support a long-term vision and commitment to our community. Without a comprehensive solution, our region will be held back from reaching its full potential.
If re-elected, I will make sure the City continues to adopt responsible land use management practices, through its zoning and comprehensive planning. I have attended several presentations and updates on the EIS for the water retention facility, as well as current and future small projects. The City of Centralia and many other communities have already benefitted from funding for small flood mitigation projects, and as a City Councilmember, I have continually supported the Centralia China Creek project and Chehalis Airport Levee project. Home owners, land owners, and businesses need to know their family, property, and business is safe from flooding, destruction, and ruin.
Since being elected, in 2015, I have focused many efforts on residential and commercial growth to allow our community and region to meet its full economic potential. In 2019, I was honored to received the Economic Development Leadership Award from the Lewis County Economic Development Council for my work with local entrepreneurs.
Our community needs to continue working with partners to open up new housing opportunities, create new jobs, and grow in smart and innovative ways. We can do that through infrastructure improvements, annexation, and design guide modifications. This year, I was able to pass a design guide modification resolution that will help residential developments.
Economic Development must be diverse to be effective. Our community must be diverse in opportunities like manufacturing, services industry, tourism, art and music, sporting events, destination shopping; as well as balance our efforts between the historic downtown, Centralia Outlets, and the Port of Centralia. Diversity allows a community to grow, withstand recessions, and deliver a better quality of life.
Budget and Taxes
I have voted against every tax increase since elected in 2015. This is a policy statement, not a political statement. Our city is seeing increased revenue from existing revenue sources. Our city can have a balanced budget, increase reserves, and accomplish all the primary functions without having to raise taxes. In 2016, I voted against a Property Tax Levy Increase and against a Centralia City Light Tax increase. In 2017, I voted against a Property Tax Levy Increase. In 2018, I voted against a Property Tax Levy Increase. I will continue to vote against unnecessary tax increases in our community and advocate for sound budgeting and fiscal policies.
Quality of Life
Elected officials are stewards of public funds. When I take a vote on a budget expenditure, I won’t spend your money- I will invest it. This means, I expect some return in the form of improved quality of life or a financial return. “Spending” taxpayer money with no plan or purpose is wasteful. I pledge that I will continue to invest your money – not waste it.
I believe we must continue to make Centralia and our community the best place to live, work, and raise a family. That not only means greater economic opportunities, but a better quality of life. That is why I earmarked last year’s property tax levy increase for community organizations. That motion passed (4-3). I voted against the unnecessary tax increase and believed this was the best way we could give it back to the taxpayers. This year, Reliable Enterprises was awarded the funds.
Partnering with great local organizations to improve parks, provide betters services, and enhance educational opportunities has been a highlight of my time on the Council. If re-elected, I will continue to work on solving problems and improving our community.
Centralia Community Foundation
In 2016, the Centralia Community Foundation was formed and the City contributed $20,000 to kick-off the fundraising. The Centralia Community Foundation will supplement the efforts of the Centralia School District 401 and other organizations and build strong public-private partnerships to improve our schools and community. This model is similar to the Chehalis Foundation. Education is a foundation for a successful community and I am proud to partner with the Community Foundation. Last year, the Foundation joined my law firm Althauser Rayan Abbarno for the Centralia Back to School Supply Drive.
I am very proud of the City’s commitment to our senior population and senior centers. Earlier in 2017, Lewis County had announced they were no longer funding the senior centers. The City of Centralia supported our community seniors by increasing the investment in Senior Center Programs to $15,000. The City of Chehalis joined us and also committed funds to the senior center. Ultimately, Lewis County joined the two cities and continued some funding of senior programs while the Lewis County Seniors transitions to a non-profit organization. Too many seniors in our community are on fixed incomes and struggling to make ends meet. Some seniors solely rely on the enrichment and nutrition programs. It is our duty and responsibility to help the most vulnerable in our community and that includes seniors on fixed income with little access to other services. We should all be proud of that investment.
Timberland Library Children’s Section
I am committed to our community’s early learning and childhood development. Centralia Timberland Library requested funding for a new early-learning section at the library in Centralia. I made the motion to fully fund the completion of the early-learning section. That motion was passed and the City was able to accelerate the fundraising and completion of the early-learning center this past summer. There are no better investments in our community than early-childhood education and providing this library section for our community is essential in the effort to pull many local families out of poverty.
Parks, Sports, and Outdoor Living
One of the best parts about living in our community is the parks, recreation, NW Sports Hub, and outdoor adventures families can have right here in their own backyard. I am a proud supporter of our Parks and Trails system.. Borst Park, Schaffer Park, Rotary Park, Seminary Hill, are all examples of the quality of life that our residents want and expect. I will continue to work toward improving our community and making our parks and trails better and more accessible.
I am very supportive of the Cold Weather Shelter managed by the Hub City Mission and Bethel Church. My family has volunteered for many years. Several years ago, it became apparent to many community members that the Shelter could not longer co-exist in the historic downtown business district. I was proud to make the Motion to move the shelter to the SW Washington Fairgrounds and support the shelter financially. A resolution that appears to be working.
Many communities struggle with homelessness. We are not alone. Few communities have strong partnerships and coordination with the United Way, Bethel Church, Cascade Mental Health, other cities, the County, and social and health service organizations. The City of Centralia is working with our partners to address problems and helping to solve them, not cover them up or kick the can.
Homeless is not a “cause” it is an “effect” and treating homelessness rather than the causes of homelessness does not work. Homelessness does not have one cause; it is drug addiction, mental illness, lack of education, lack of training, poor decisions, laziness, traumatic events, illnesses, and many more. That is why homelessness is so hard to battle. If re-elected, I will continue working with our partners to find solutions that fit our community.
Our residents and visitors must feel safe in their homes, in their places of work, and walking through our community. I attended the Centralia Police Departments community public safety meetings in 2017 and 2018. Property crime, drug houses, nuisances, and homelessness were all issues discussed by our residents- including myself.
These were not merely listening sessions, they were action sessions. The City unveiled the “City of Centralia Nuisance Enforcement and Education Taskforce” to enforce our codes that requires property owners to keep their safe for the community. This includes healthy violations in yards, abandoned vehicles, and other violations.
The City also passed new regulations prohibiting aggressive panhandling, as well as new code to prevent solicitations directly on our roadways. The new codes balance First Amendment Constitutional protections with the safety and security of our residents, business owners, and visitors to the City of Centralia.
Every citizen, business owner, and visitor to the Hub City should feel safe and secure shopping at our local businesses, walking down the street, and driving down the road and be free from aggressive and sometimes dangerous solicitations. I appreciate the Centralia Police Departments efforts to bring our neighborhoods together to fight crime.
The City also updated the website to allow citizens to more readily report a public works issues (pothole, traffic signal), report a nuisance (tall grass, abandoned vehicle), obtain a criminal case number for stolen property or fraud, and report non-emergency issues like suspected drug activity.
There are many issues the Council addressed over the past four years. If you have an issue you would like to discuss or address, please Contact Me!