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First, answers to the most recent questions:
Some people are saying you have no specific plans at this moment. How would you respond?
I see myself as a leader and a leader does not undertake to lead with a preconceived notion of how to accomplish everything. A leader undertakes a leadership role to guide the people around her toward solving problems, now and in the future. A leader doesn't shove people in a preconceived direction. A leader serves as a guide toward a solution. Anyone who suggests they already know how to solve every problem -- both known and unknown -- is not a leader. They are a ruler.
Why do we restrict camping to 90 days? Would you, as Mayor, change that?
We are a tourist destination. We embrace our visitors. We market to bring more of them. We promote events to entice them to come again and again and spend their money.
But when it comes to our campers, those who are property owners but have chosen not to build a permanent home, we “allow” them to stay only 90 days.
We need to remember that our campers are also tourists and visitors. They spend money. They frequent our restaurants. They come again and again. Not only do they pay sales taxes on everything they buy, they pay property tax on their lots, many pay sewer, water and electric. They have invested in the community. Some even vote here!
Although there is a boom in building, there are still many camping lots scattered around town. And there are clearly two sides to this conversation: Those who want to ease restrictions and some who want to eliminate camping altogether.
This is an important issue which I will bring forward, encourage study sessions, and make sure they happen during the Summer when our campers can attend and be part of that conversation. As mayor, my job is to facilitate a solution, not dictate one.
We have an opportunity to be a unique city with a variety of options for living here -- both long and short term. I believe we should work together to make all options viable and part of the rich tapestry that is Ocean Shores.
What simple way will you show that citizens are important?
I will update the city government's organizational chart to add the category of citizens to the top of the chart. The current organizational chart has never referenced, “the people.”
Why don't you declare your political party affiliation?
The position of mayor is a nonpartisan position. It is not just my intent but, more importantly, my mandate to serve all citizens equally well without regard to anyone's political beliefs.
How long have you lived in Ocean Shores?
Do you feel having a City Administrator is a good thing?
I believe, having an administrator who is skilled, experienced, and has the best interests of Ocean Shores at heart is an asset to our city. Though the individual selected recently to fill this position is an "administrator in training,” he is showing great interest and potential.
What are three of your main priorities if elected Mayor?
1. Review the permitting process, aligning it with our goals for managed growth, and with checks and balances which respect the contractors, the land, and the citizens who live here.
2. Create an accurate assessment of the state of our infrastructure -- water, sewer, waterways, roadways, beaches, electrical power, technology.
3. Vigorously explore alternative options to improve healthcare.
How would you insure building lots are not cleared from lot line to lot line?
First thing I would do is make sure every individual who requests a building permit hears the rules and the ordinances. It is a best-practice to always inform. I don't care whether they've heard it dozens of times in the past. They'll hear it again. And they will also sign off on the fact they have heard it and understand their rights and responsibilities. And we will follow up at every stage to make sure they are following the rules they agreed to follow. And if they don't, there is already a penalty structure in place -- it simply needs to be enforced. And we will enforce it. It is actually that simple
What about health care options in Ocean Shores?
Management of our health care delivery system is the most critical issue facing the city. This year calls to our fire department have increased by 45%. Data does not indicate if a call was to change a battery in a smoke alarm or transport a patient suffering a stroke or a heart attack. A call is a call is a call. Often citizens who lack access to primary care, also use 911 and emergency services to receive healthcare in non-emergency situations. And costs continue to escalate. With no urgent care facility in the city, and a hospital that is half an hour distant, our traditional firefighter/paramedic model requires re-thinking.
Community paramedicine is a new and evolving healthcare model. It allows paramedics to operate in expanded roles by assisting with public health, primary healthcare and preventive services to address the needs of citizens in a more efficient and proactive way. Ocean Shores Fire Department could also team up with our Nurse Practitioner. RN's could work at our library. Many fire departments and libraries across the states are using those models.
Combined with Telemedicine that allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology, we can redefine our model. Lessen the burden on our citizens and our emergency personnel while providing efficient health care options.
Why did you decide to run for this position?
I decided to run for Mayor because we can’t fix tomorrow’s problems using yesterday’s thinking. I'm excited to lead a city that embraces change and is not afraid of the future. A city that will rise above it's current state of bureaucratic complacency, promote technology, and streamline all administrative activities. I will lead by example to stimulate our staff and elected officials to provide professional leadership and service. We will spend the people’s money wisely to satisfy the health and safety needs of an ever changing demographic. We will establish a culture of inclusion which recognizes the knowledge and skills of our citizens, young and old. Promote community policing and neighborhood watch to ensure safe neighborhoods. Create and maintain a festive atmosphere where people and businesses thrive. We will be a city that is not shackled by its past but rather embraces its future. A proud city. A city where people want to visit often or stay forever.
What are three major management issues facing your city or town?
We need to correct the random and haphazard management methods of the current administration. Using the LEAN method principles for government, we will identify and then implement the most efficient way to provide services, thereby ensuring efficient use of the voters' tax money.
We have to fix the Convention Center event venue process and contracts. We need to define and enforce, with an equal hand, policies that will protect BOTH the promoters and the City. The City should embrace the knowledge and skills offered by promoters and encourage our staff to work toward achievable goals. With a dynamic website, combined with continued marketing, we will experience increased quality and quantity of events that will attract increasing numbers of visitors.
It is critical to manage our emergency medical care to provide efficient and cost effective service to our rapidly growing population, especially as calls increase and costs to provide services will become a burden on the taxpayer.
Of the three, which one is the most urgent?
Management of our health care delivery system is the most critical issue facing the city. This year calls to our fire department have increased by 45%. Data does not indicate if a call was to change a battery in a smoke alarm or transport a patient suffering a stroke or a heart attack. Often citizens who lack access to primary care use 911 and emergency services to receive healthcare in non-emergency situations.
With no urgent care facility in the city, and a hospital that is half an hour distant, our traditional firefighter/paramedic model requires re-thinking. Community paramedicine is a new healthcare model. It allows paramedics to operate in expanded roles by assisting with public health, primary healthcare and preventive services to address the needs of citizens efficiently and in a proactive way. Combined with Telemedicine that allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology, we can redefine our model.
What methods will you use to work successfully with the council?
I believe in honest and transparent government. To govern well, we need to work to build trust, engage in honest feedback, have the difficult conversations and ultimately partner together to stay focused on the future.
As mayor, being open and approachable and handling any differences in a respectful and courteous manner will allow us to address conflict head on and not take issues personally. We should take every opportunity to host town halls with citizens and staff to facilitate an exchange of ideas.
Developing mutual respect for each other and the citizens we serve, I know we will make decisions for the common good. As public servants, we represent every citizen, not just whose who share our views or voted for us. We need to listen to them. We need to cultivate the necessary qualities among ourselves of collaboration, teamwork and civility to foster civic pride and explore the pathway to making our shared vision for the future of Ocean Shores become a reality.
What do you think is your city/town’s role in dealing with issues surrounding the environment?
Our unique environment is treasured by those who live here and by our visitors. We are surrounded by shorelines of both fresh and salt water. We have parks and dedicated green belts which provide a habitat for our varied wildlife. As mayor, and because of our unique environment, I have an obligation to work to insure we balance economic growth with the need to preserve and nurture the natural environment. Being good stewards of our planet is all about understanding that a healthy environment helps to insure a healthy population – emotionally as well as physically.
We will create certified wildlife habitat gardens and encourage citizens to do the same. We will apply for Tree City USA status. I will form an environmental advisory board of interested citizens to advise the council and staff on environmental issues, including, but not limited to, solid waste disposal, recycling, integrated pest control, dark skies initiative, pollution prevention, energy, air quality and green building.
What are the issues surrounding your city/town's infrastructure?
Ocean Shores' water system is half a century old and we need to consider replacement strategies for decaying and outdated pipes. Salt water incursion in our wells should be monitored constantly. We should explore alternative water sources before a crisis occurs.
Our roads and bridges require regular inspection and maintenance, and funding is a priority. Determining an alternative to roadside spraying of glyphosate is the highest priority. Our fresh waterways require a maintained balance between a healthy environment for fish while removing invasive weeds that choke the channels and inhibit navigation. We also need to limit the use of fertilizers near waterways. Under my administration, a newly appointed public works advisory board will advise council and staff. Communications infrastructure, information technology and software development tools are critical. We need to upgrade, providing the necessary structure and support for all our departments to maintain security and efficiency.
How do you think your city/town should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?
Ocean Shores is a town where we worry about tsunamis, not a tsunami of people from other countries. There is no evidence to suggest this is a problem now or in the foreseeable future. We are small enough that for the very few individuals who come to the U.S. seeking either opportunity -- as did nearly all of our ancestors -- or refuge from persecution -- as did many of our ancestors -- those who make it this far can be evaluated on an individual basis without over-stressing our administration or infrastructure.
How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness?
Homelessness is a sad fact of life throughout the world. It may surprise everyone to know that of over 700 school-age children living in Ocean Shores, an incredible 100 of them have been identified as homeless or as living substandard lives. This number has grown substantially in the past three years and, as a percentage, is nearly five times the national average! This is outrageous. We need to help our homeless population, young and old. We will work with non profits, health care providers and other social service caregivers to improve the health and well being of these people. We will support, as much as we are able, Ocean Shores food bank, the North Beach Senior Resource Center and the North Beach Senior Center. Being mindful of recent judicial decisions and, if the need arises, we will encourage non profit agencies to provide a temporary residential facility and additional services located in a way that benefits the homeless without negatively impacting the surrounding area.