Plumbing

Sequim candidates Black, Butler, Day, Rutter talk about council subjects

SEQUIM — Housing and social services were among the topics discussed at a Sequim City Council candidate forum earlier this month.

Similar topics were considered by William Armacost and Kathy Downer, who are running for Position 1, during the Oct. 3 League of Women Voters Forum. A story specifically about that contest was published in the Peninsula Daily News on Oct. 14.

Also speaking at that forum were Jim Black and Dan Butler, running for Position 2, and Patrick Day and Harmony Rutter, running for Position 6. Their views are published in this story.

To view the forum, see youtube.com/@leagueof
womenvotersclallam279.

All candidates are running in Tuesday’s General election.

Housing

Rutter, a Washington State University Extension office staffer, described affordable housing as a
“big emergency.”

She said she wants to continue the council’s initiatives, including how to make accessory dwelling units a better part of the solution, changing zoning, and attracting more apartments to the city.

Day, a retired security police officer, said the city is moving in the right direction, but he’d like to evaluate utility rates for new developments and using land around the city for workforce housing and apartments.

“Our land and city footprint is relatively small,” he said. “We are running out of areas to put this that are reasonable.”

Butler, a part-time church administrator and a language researcher, supports ongoing city initiatives and speaking to developers about how to incentivize developing workforce housing and expand land trust initiatives similar to Habitat for Humanity’s proposed city project.

Black, a retired software engineer, also said he supports Habitat’s project, and that the city needs to look at zoning and permitting, and work with Clallam County officials on building housing outside of city limits.

“This is a small area on the (North Olympic) Peninsula,” he said. “People don’t necessarily have to live in Sequim. They can commute to work. We can try to work out options there.”

Services

As Sequim grows, Black said it’s showing “concerning signs of change for the worse, including tent encampments, stores locking up merchandise, and people living on the streets.”

“We have to do better than Seattle, Portland and San Francisco,” he said.

Some of his preferred solutions include offering “full pathways to recovery,” and work training.

Butler feels the city should provide more funding for health and human services.

“The current crisis we have with human services is systemic to our our national policy and Sequim is not the source of the problem and the solution won’t be won’t be solved in Sequim,” he said.

He said he’s learning to be more mindful of less privileged people and learn their stories.

While working at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Butler said he engages many people sleeping by their building and he hasn’t met anyone who made a deliberate choice to live without shelter.

“Each one has a story,” he said.

Black said what the city spends is appropriate to what’s effective.

His concern, he said, is for people addicted to drugs and/or have mental illness and getting them help, trained and back to work if possible. He said connecting them with nonprofits like Oxford House would be effective along with training more young people in trades.

Health and human service funding contracts should be explored more “hand-in-hand” with agencies, Day said.

He wants to invest more in infrastructure for children, too, so “they stay out of trouble and they have things to do and they build their minds and their experiences.”

Day considers mental health issues and drug/alcohol addiction important in dealing with homelessness. He said that as an officer, he ran a methadone clinic inside a prison and that 80 percent of those with drug and alcohol issues were self-medicating mental health problems. Once they were being treated for both addiction and mental health issues, Day said, clients had a 70 percent recovery rate.

Rutter said she feels the city should spend more on health and human service funding while working with regional organizations to help people who need support. If elected, she said she’ll make sure the city is showing up to provide services to those who need it.

“There’s so many excellent excellent organizations out there, and I really look forward to working with them,” she said.

CTE

Both Black and Butler supported the city council’s decision to pledge $250,000 to a Career and Technical Education (CTE) building at Sequim High School, despite the project being put on hold.

Black said he grew up in Milwaukee, Wis., where there were a lot of options to pursue going into a trade, and his two sons learned computer networking in high school.

Butler said providing technical training is essential as Sequim has moved away from an emphasis on agriculture to a service-based and seasonal tourist-based economy.

He wants the city to look more into high speed internet, more bike- and pedestrian-friendly streets and sidewalks, and more collaboration with sister cities.

Day said union representatives he’s spoken with nationwide say there needs to be more service-related training and schools need to add vocational training.

He said programs for woodworking, mechanics and plumbing — similar to when he was in school — are going away and those “career fields are dying for people to get in there and work.”

Rutter said she would support the project if it came back to the council for a pledge. She also feels it’s important for the council to help safeguard natural resources and help increase access to higher speed internet in the area, as it would lead more businesses to bring their work to Sequim.

Climate

Black said his emphasis is to address drug addiction and mental health issues.

“A small city like Sequim doesn’t have the kind of money to deal with that if that gets out of hand,” he said.

Additionally, Black said they need to make schools attractive to people who want to move here.

On the city’s Planning Commission, Butler said he’s become familiar with the city’s Comprehensive Plan and how it drives investment priorities for infrastructure and what roads, sewer and water projects are prioritized. He said the most important part initially of the 2025-2035 plan will be community stakeholder meetings.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at matthew.nash@sequimgazette.com.




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