Chris McNutt, the vice chair of the Puyallup Planning Commission, and Julie Door, an advocate for neighborhood safety, will vie for a seat on the city council.
As the general election is approaching on Nov. 5, here are some of their thoughts on what they would do if they are elected in District 3, Position 2:
Puyallup Herald: What experience do you have that makes you the right choice for Puyallup City Council?
Julie Door: As a small business owner, I understand the importance of fiscal responsibility and budgeting. I have a proven track record of bringing together citizens and officials to solve problems. This was demonstrated by my role in the city’s halfway house issue and the passage of Senate Bill 5105, placing conditions on housing vouchers for released felons.
I grew up in Puyallup and have a deep love for our city. As a mom of two, I understand the importance of maintaining the library, parks, recreation and senior programs.
Chris McNutt: I have years of practical experience in project and resource management with multi-million-dollar budgets. My skills in negotiating both straightforward and controversial issues are a unique asset.
As a parent of school-age children, I am in touch with and invested in the success and safety of our community.
My time serving as a volunteer on the Planning Commission gives me a thorough background on some of the most complex issues the city deals with. My essential contributions and leadership in the fight against the residential halfway house for sex offenders demonstrates my ability to successfully collaborate on citizen-led initiatives.
My proven creative and collaborative approach ensures that all voices and ideas are valued and integrated. These traits, as well as my calm, pragmatic approach to problem solving, makes me the most qualified candidate to keep the city responsible and maintain the basis for a high quality of life for us all.
PH: If elected, what is one priority you would accomplish, and why?
JD: Building and repairing relationships is a top priority for me. For example, we have two taxpayer-approved initiatives, South Sound 911 and Sound Transit, that require a good working relationship between the city and these agencies. In order to ensure the best possible use of our taxpayer dollars and the best solutions for our community, we need to work together.
CM: I will stop the automatic utility rate increases and work to lower the rates for everyone, in addition to enhancing public safety, bolstering the parks programs and amenities, and making the budget more responsible.
Our rates are comparatively high, due, in part, to some less-than-ideal accounting practices (such as loaning out utility fund money to other departments). The city has asked for higher and higher rates to compensate. The three councilmen who voted against the five-year automatic increases will still be in office when I am elected. I will be the fourth vote, and therefore within the majority, so we will be able to swiftly stop these increases and get the utility rates under control.
Many of our residents have tight or even fixed incomes, and increases like these make it more difficult for them to continue to call Puyallup their home. There is no reason to burden our existing and future residents with the mistakes of the past, and it is wrong to do so.
PH: What is one challenge you think Puyallup is facing over the next five years? What is the best solution to this challenge, and why?
JD: Managing commercial and residential growth. It is imperative that we make sure the infrastructure is in place to support and maintain well-planned growth while protecting the small-town character and heritage of our city. We need to plan for and maintain streets, sewers, sidewalks, parks and buildings.
Three specific examples that I see are: 1) Continued support for new businesses at our South Hill Business Park; 2) Securing funds to improve congestion and safety on Shaw Road; and 3) Careful development of the Van Lierop farmland area, consistent with the current zoning that does not include warehouses.
CM: There are many challenges which have the potential to grow larger in the next five years. Issues such as traffic on Shaw Road and Meridian, the impacts of homelessness, utility rates, urban planning and influence by outside agencies.
Far and away our biggest challenge is the budget itself. The budget affects every department, project, program, employee and resident. Irresponsible budgeting can encourage bad policy solutions.
Shifting responsibility into the future by racking up more debt is selfish and costly. Revenue forecasts have been up this year, but this can potentially be as dangerous as low revenue. If the unexpected boon of economic prosperity isn’t spent wisely, critical projects may be overlooked, becoming more costly down the road.
The city still has a massive amount of debt. Unfunded projects, such as road maintenance, guarantee higher bills later when replacement becomes required over repair. The best way to meet these challenges is for every official to take responsibility rather than push it to their replacements.
We have to keep in mind that doing the right thing isn’t always easy. If we treat every dollar and every resident as precious, it sets the stage to be consistently right and fair.