Thursday, April 18, 2024

City of Chelan Mayoral Candidates 2023 – Questions & Answers

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Serving as the mayor comes with a varying set of duties and powers that are integral to the city's governance. The mayor acts as the chief executive and administrative officer, overseeing all city departments and employees, ensuring efficient administration and public service delivery.

Additionally, they bear the responsibility of enforcing city laws and ordinances, and maintaining law and order for residents. The mayor presides over all city council meetings and holds the power of a tie-breaking vote, ensuring decisions are reached.

The mayor reports to the city council with recommendations, financial updates and prepares and submits the city’s yearly budget.

The Mayor also holds the power of a veto vote. However, the veto can be overridden by a majority plus one vote of all council members. As the ceremonial leader the mayor represents the city at all events and ceremonies. 

In essence, the Mayor's role encompasses executive, legislative, and ceremonial duties vital to the city's well-being.

According to Washington law mayors are elected and serve a four-year term until their successors are elected, qualified and assume office.

1. What motivated you to run for the position of mayor in Chelan, and what unique qualifications or experiences do you bring to this role?

Erin McCardle: I have been on Council for 14 years. As a council member, you are enacting policy. I’ve seen several issues that need more leadership from the City such as affordable housing, thoughtful growth, infrastructure, and sustainable economic development. My past professional experience uniquely qualifies me for this leadership role. We need someone who has the skill set to work with partners and our community, think long-term and develop strategic goals to protect and preserve the small-town community we love.

Please visit www.mccardleformayor.com for both English and Spanish versions of these questions & responses. Please visit www.mccardleformayor.com for both English and Spanish versions of these questions & responses.

Bob Goedde: Thank you for this opportunity to answer questions about the many issues facing the community of Chelan. The City is currently involved in a number of new projects, and I will continue to work with my staff, constituents, developers and regional partners to make Chelan a better place to reside.

“I want Chelan to remain a small town.” I have lived here all my life and been active in city politics for the past 20 years as both a Council member and Mayor. I’ve served on the LINK Transit Board for the past 20 years and as a board member of the Association of Washington Cities for 10 years.

My work experience in Chelan includes running my own auto mechanics shop, serving as a police reserve officer, and with Public Works and PUD Parks Department.

I have the ability to communicate in difficult times. I learned how to communicate as a an Army Sgt. in Vietnam, a Pit Boss at racetracks and explaining the actions of the City Council to concerned constiuents.

2. Chelan has a strong tourism industry. How do you plan to balance the needs and concerns of local residents with those of tourists to ensure the town thrives economically while preserving its unique character?

Erin McCardle: The City of Chelan does not have a vision or strategic plan for economic development. Without this, there is no way to balance the wishes of our residents and we remain reliant on ONE source of City operational revenue (risky). As Mayor, I will be focused on the following:

• Complete the Our Valley Our Future Core Values effort to provide the clear foundation for the type of community our citizens want us to preserve and protect.

• Partner with the Port of Chelan County and the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce on a Valley-wide Economic Impact and Master Plan that articulate how we build a stable, sustainable diversified year-round economy. This effort would identify our Valley’s assets, identify potential economic opportunities, create community consensus on vision, identify necessary investments and funding and develop a roadmap of strategies and goals to make progress on the vision.

Bob Goedde: People have been coming to Chelan for generations. I have been pushing for the extra one percent lodging tax that is legally available and would use those funds for tourism related infrastructure needs. From 2017 to 2022, both the sales and lodging tax revenues have doubled to approximately $1.5 million dollars.

We need to consider spending tourism (lodging tax) funds on helping to maintain our recreational facilities and use local tax payer funds to help our residents.

3. Infrastructure and transportation are critical for any community. What are your priorities for improving Chelan's infrastructure, including roads, utilities, and public transportation?

Erin McCardle: Our infrastructure issues are a result of generations of deferred maintenance to a point (now) where everything is in critical need of replacement (increasing costs 10-fold). As a result of COVID shutdowns, we are seeing “once in a generation” funding available for infrastructure. In addition, we have influential legislators representing our district. Combined – the City was in an incredibly unique/strong position. However, our current leadership has missed 4+ years of opportunity to secure State and Federal funding for our growing list of infrastructure projects. My number one priority will be to meet with our legislative delegation and walk through our capital, transportation infrastructure and programmatic needs and clearly articulate our priorities and funding requests. Secondly, all ideas should be on the table to ensure our transportation budget remains funded. Ideas include changing the % of property tax allocation allocated to Streets (25% currently goes to General Fund, 75% to Street Fund), evaluating the impacts of creating a Transportation Benefit District, and of course - aggressive pursuit of grant funding and working with our State Representatives on those efforts. Overall, there is a balance of how aggressive we get on addressing the never-ending list of infrastructure projects so that the citizens of Chelan are not burdening more than their fair share. Currently, our infrastructure issues are being driven by conditions, not capacity. Our infrastructure is old. Upgrades have been deferred and it’s time we bring our system to current standards.

Bob Goedde: With continuing growth in the Lake Chelan Valley transportation issues have become critical. I would like to correct the one-way situation into town on the Woodin Avenue Bridge to a two-way situation to relieve Johnson Avenue traffic. In addition, the Washington State Department of Transportation wants to turn East Woodin Avenue into one way lanes east and west with bicycle lanes and a left hand turn land down the middle from the stop light to Les Schwab. I'm against that and am working diligently to keep East Woodin Avenue a four lane highway into and out of town.

The FAA is progressing on expanding the runway at Chelan's airport and the City is designing and eventually will construct a fire flow water line to the airport that will generate economic growth at the airport. I continue to work hard with staff to complete these projects. Also, Link Transit is currently designing a new "Local" inclusive route for the Lake Chelan Valley.

Chelan is facing numerous infrastructure issues and our Public Works Department is constantly seeking grants and low income loans to fix the many problems facing Chelan such as low water pressure and our aging sewer system.

The Council has instigated a TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) program in east Chelan to improve water delivery and to construct a one million gallon reservoir. Chelan’s administration, staff and I have been negotiating with the Junior Taxing Districts to reach a reasonable plan that will insure this work is accomplished. The City and its consultant continues to seek other sources of funding to help fund this and other necessary projects.

4. Chelan, like many communities, faces environmental challenges. What is your stance on environmental conservation and sustainable practices, and how do you plan to address these issues locally?

Erin McCardle: Our Council approved unanimously a yearly contribution to the Chelan Blue organization to fund their excellent efforts in keeping Lake Chelan clean. I continue to support this. As well as efforts on mandatory boat inspections. Our Public Works department is also working on creating the first ever Stormwater Plan. This will be a huge undertaking but critical in identifying the deficiencies of our system and solutions.

Bob Goedde: The City has a robust recycling program to keep plastics and cardboard out of the landfills. In addition, the City has helped the Chelan Rotary Club develop a healthy glass recycling program.

Lake Chelan is one of the City’s biggest concerns and we have help fund the Lake Chelan Research Institute for the next five years along with our partners; Chelan County, Chelan PUD, Lake Chelan Reclamation District and private parties to monitor lake quality and to look for solutions to emerging issues.

This year, boat inspections were instigated to help detect and stop invasive species from entering the lake including Eurasian Milfoil, Quagga and Zebra mussels. Goose poop, lawn fertilizers and agricultural drains are also contributors to declining water quality.

5. Housing affordability is a concern for many Chelan residents. What strategies do you propose to address housing affordability and availability in the area?

Erin McCardle: I believe that solutions to address the missing middle housing (aka affordable housing), senior housing, farmworker housing must be regionally focused. Many local organizations have been working on this for years and while the City of Chelan has financially supported the Housing Authority and Chelan Valley Housing Trust; we need to do more. The City of Chelan needs to join these conversations to find solutions. We need big ideas, big strategies to make big change. One-off projects are great wins, but we need to be looking to broader solutions like legislative change, updates to City code, incentive programs for affordable apartments, predesigned/pre-approved ADU designs, streamlining the permitting process, etc. Council Committee assignments have not changed in the 14 years I’ve been on Council. These need to be reviewed and prioritized with relevant efforts. The City of Chelan must strengthen our partnerships and join the conversation. I would remove several committee assignments and immediately add the Our Valley Our Future Chelan-Douglas Housing Solutions Group. This group includes government planners, community land/housing trust leaders, the Housing Authority of Chelan County exec director, social service agencies, building association representative, developers, architects, etc.

Bob Goedde: Affordable housing has been an ongoing issue for a number of years and the City has partnered with Chelan County, Chelan Valley Housing Trust and the Wenatchee Housing Authority to move forward on building affordable housing on land being donated by the county.

In addition we have negotiated with Chelan Fruit for an easement through their property for a wastewater line that will lower the infrastructure costs for the Housing Trust’s Anderson Road affordable housing project. The City is continuing to investigate all possibilities to obtain land for affordable workforce housing.

The Widener Group is currently in engineering negotiations with the City to construct 280+apartments.

6. Public safety is a top priority for any municipality. How do you plan to enhance public safety services, such as police and emergency response, to ensure the well-being of Chelan's residents?

Erin McCardle: Overall, I believe our public safety services are in very good hands with leadership from Mike Morrison and Ray Eickmeyer.

Bob Goedde: The City contracts with the Chelan Sheriff’s Department and they have done an excellent job. We are in the process of hiring a licensed law enforcement officer for code enforcement throughout the city. We also have one of the best small town fire departments.

7. Chelan's economy relies heavily on agriculture and tourism. How do you envision supporting local businesses and promoting economic growth in the region?

Erin McCardle: The City of Chelan lacks a solid Economic Development vision. We struggle with a seasonal economy – making housing, staffing, running a business even harder. I would like to immediately see a stronger partnership between the City of Chelan, our Regional Port Authority and the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce to dig into this and develop a long-range strategic vision and plan for a year-round sustainable economy.

Bob Goedde: We need to broaden the activities that visitors and residents can do in the valley. We will continue to promote the wineries, ag-tourism outlets, the construction of new public trails and make everyone aware of what the community has to offer.

8. The community values its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. What initiatives will you undertake to protect and enhance Chelan's natural resources and parks?

Erin McCardle: I am an avid outdoor recreationalist. I believe that the more opportunities we have for our community to get outside, breathe fresh air, exercise their body and take in the beauty of our Valley – the better. I have been and will continue to support several projects that create opportunities for outdoor recreation in our Valley: • Street End Park Projects – City Council has identified over 10 locations around the City of Chelan that can be improved to provide public access to Lake Chelan. Additionally, City Council has approved a budget appropriation each year to build out these street end micro parks. • Lakeside Trail Completion – Public Works has recently applied and won a $3M grant (with approved matching funds from the City of Chelan) to complete the Lakeside Trail along the South Shore. Completion of this will provide pedestrian access to several public access points to Lake Chelan (i.e. the small public access area on the Fingers, a few of the micro parks identified in the Street End Park Project). • Expansion of Youth Athletics and Facilities – the kiddos in our community deserve safe athletic facilities and more opportunities for sports and outdoor activities. I would like to see current baseball fields improved, AAU programs expanded and additional opportunities for fall and winter recreation be pursued.

Bob Goedde: The City continues to work on maintaining the rustic beauty that surrounds us. Recreation is a huge issue and we are working on expanding our Parks system, i.e. baseball fields in south Chelan, locating and constructing a skate park and pickleball courts for the local residents. The Golf Course will be undergoing a new revitalization including a new automated irrigation system.

9. Chelan is a close-knit community. How do you plan to foster community engagement and participation in local government decisions and initiatives?

Erin McCardle: Communication and transparency are key to building community trust. Community trust is key to community engagement. We have many resources available to us today to keep an open dialogue with the citizens of our City so that people know what is happening and how to participate. There are several efforts I would roll out as Mayor: • Monthly Newsletter from the City – a monthly update from each of our departments (Administration, Planning, Parks, Public Works, Finance), including a standing update on Land Use Notices, Planning Commission topics, City Council topics. The City must be more proactive on disseminating information vs. expecting citizens to find it on their own. • Core Values effort – the City’s Comprehensive Plan is the driving document for making policy decision. At the foundation of this is our Community’s Core Values. What we, as a community, identify as our very top priorities. Our community is a wonderful mix of races, ages, tenure, and beliefs. This is a very important project to solidify how our community wants to see Chelan develop over the next 10-20 years. • Meet Your Mayor – for several years, I worked with the MOE 4th grade classes to come to City Hall, meet some council members and hold a “mock” council meeting – taking comments from the public, being a council member and being the Mayor. Connecting with our community is critical and I will continue that as Mayor. I will meet quarterly with various segments of our community in their gathering spaces. Seniors, youth, downtown businesses, educators, healthcare professionals, etc. Continuing to learn and listen to the concerns of EVERYONE in our community.

Bob Goedde: The City is working on engaging the public through the local newspaper, radio station and several social media sites that are information outlets. In addition, the new City Website is up and running making it much easier for residents and others to stay in touch with City issues.

10. What specific short-term and long-term goals do you have for Chelan during your tenure as mayor, and how will you measure the success of these goals?

Erin McCardle: The role of the Mayor is to provide leadership – to advocate for our City’s needs, to be a strong and strategic leader with our partners, and to be proactive not reactive to issues facing our community. I have the following goals as Mayor: • Short Term (1-2 years):Community Core Values: what does our community hold dear so that the City can legislate to preserve and protect. I’d like to see at least 70% participation from our community in this effort. Economic Master Plan: roadmap to developing a sustainable year-round economy. I’d like to have this effort completed by the end of 2025. Affordable Housing Solutions: to address our missing middle and senior housing market. I’d like to be rolling out 3 strategic solutions by end of 2024 (i.e. code updates, legislative changes, incentive programs) Stronger Partnerships: strengthening regional partnerships such as Port, County, PUD, Chamber so that we are all working together to preserve and protect Chelan’s Core Values. I will be working to launch a Strategic Summit prior to our 2024 budget season with key regional partners. • Long Term (2-4+ years) Thoughtful Growth in Lake Chelan through the upcoming Comprehensive Plan Update. Sustainable Year-Round Economy achieved through the Economic Development Master Plan Financially Strong City achieved by long-range leadership and planning.

Bob Goedde:  My short term and long term goals if I’m re-elected, will be continue my work with staff, council and regional partners for the best outcomes for all of Chelan’s present and future issues 

These questions should provide a comprehensive view of your platform and vision for the City of Chelan, allowing our readers to make informed decisions in the upcoming election.


 

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