Decision 2013: OP&L Candidate Questionnaire, Olympia City Council, Pos. 5
Who are these people? And why are the running for local office? To help find out, we wanted to give every candidate a chance to speak directly to you, our wise and discerning readers. Thus, this candidate questionnaire. Some of the questions were submitted by readers. Some were prepared by OP&L. (Disclosure: OP&L co-publisher Matthew Green is working with the campaigns of Sue Gunn for Port of Olympia Commissioner, and Darren Mills and Julie Hankins for Olympia City Council. Matthew did not determine the questions for those races.) The answers are straight from the candidates. We did not edit them, except to fix a few typos and grammatical errors. (Because OP&L never prints typos and grammatical errors. Ever. So shut up.)
General election ballots will be mailed on October 16, and must be postmarked or dropped in a ballot box by November 6. For more election information, visit www.thurstonvotes.org. ◙
Position: Olympia City Council, position 5
Candidates: Julie Hankins, Mike Volz
1. Where do you see the art of civic responsibility playing a role with all the stakeholders in downtown Olympia?
JH: It is our civic responsibility to work with one another to get our community needs met. Our city is facing challenges, challenges that can be met when we recognize that the key to meeting those challenges rest with each and every one of us, the stakeholders, and working together to find solutions. Since the challenges we face in our downtown are varied and various so too must be our responses. Each member of the community holds a piece of the solution and it is our civic responsibility to weave our individual piece into the whole.
MV: The importance of civic responsibility cannot be overstated. “Stakeholder” is a term often applied to business or property owners but it is easily demonstrated that each and every citizen is a stakeholder. As the scope of city council action is such that no individual is beyond its influence, “civic arousal” (Ralph Nader has penned a book on the subject) is paramount. For me, it represents the process of bringing a large segment of our population from disenfranchisement and apathy to knowledge and engagement. These new stakeholders are a key source of inspiration for me. They bring an “emperor wears no clothes” element to the process.
2. Please speak to the Olympia Downtown Association’s influence on City of Olympia policies and decisions.
JH: Getting community needs met should be what drives the City of Olympia’s policies and decisions. Bringing equal voices to the discussion allows us to work together as a community to find equitable and lasting solutions to the challenges facing us and to provide the foundation for sound city policies and decisions. When one voice has more influence than another, then the conversation shifts from community needs to individual wants, and wants are rarely a sound foundation for policies and decisions. Therefore, the Olympia Downtown Association’s influence is the equal of any and every stakeholder in our community.
MV: The Olympia Downtown Association exists, according to their website, “To preserve, promote, and enhance the downtown community.” That being their mission, they have cause to contribute to the council’s process as much as possible. It is one of the best means that they have of enriching the city we all love. I’m really excited to see more Olympians get involved with the group. This will greatly help the organizations visibility and increase their influence on city policies and in community at large. As council person I look forward to working with them.
3. What is your position on graffiti and street art?
JH: Art is ultimately a gift. Graffiti and street art are not art, not because of some subjective standard, but because someone has taken something that belongs to another without permission. When a community or property owner freely gives a space for creative expression then the gift of art is realized, but when someone takes a space without agreement then a crime occurs. Self-expression within parameters is an integral part of the human experience, but self-expression without considerations or bounds is selfish and unacceptable in a civilized society.
MV: I’ve got art all over my body in the form of tattoos. Though, when I began that process my mother still begged to differ, but my body is my own property. I rather enjoy the vibrancy that various murals and art walls bring to our downtown. The Olympia Rafi Solidarity wall being the stand out piece, it’s amazing. When property owners retain discretion over the “when and where” and their buildings are “beautified” in such ways, nobody has to feel bad about it. I have a building downtown where I base my business, it’s very plain but it suits my basic business needs. Does it get tagged? Regularly. Am I disappointed when I have to spend time and money to remedy it? Absolutely. I know I am not alone in this view.
4. What is your position on the future of Capitol Lake and the empty properties nearby?
JH: Capitol Lake and the properties nearby should be part of a new community driven downtown plan. The possibilities and opportunities for open space, parks, libraries, museums, ice cream shops, and other visions are limitless on this site. Capitol Lake should have a berm built to form a reflecting pool of artesian well or reclaimed water for reflecting the Capitol and to allow for safe swimming. The lake should be dredged and effort focused on cleaning up the Deschutes River upstream to protect the health of the Sound. Exploring and evaluating all the environmental and economic data will provide the foundation for an informed decision between a dam and estuary.
MV: Capitol Lake and the park surrounding is state owned and there is not much the city can do with it until the State decides to invest in the much needed care that the lake needs. Hopefully, when/if the state moves forward in the lake clean-up, I would love for Olympia to have some direct input in the process. As far as the newly acquired buildings go, I am hopeful to be a part of the process and to see what direction the city will go on that project.
5. What is your position on the People’s House low-barrier shelter, and what would you do to address the needs of this population? Would you support a moratorium on the creation of low-barrier shelters?
JH: I know housing transforms lives, so I am always supportive of giving people a hand up to reach housing. I am not supportive of handouts because they do not help people and ultimately do harm. I would support a community conversation to better understand the needs of our homeless population and what barriers exist to getting those needs met. With this information, we can then decide the best way to meet those needs and determine what is sustainable in our community. In order to not show bias and preserve my ability to render a future vote, I cannot respond to the moratorium question.
MV: I am opposed to the low-barrier shelter concept in the City as a whole. This has been one of the most sensitive issues I have faced in the election but I have done my research and this type of shelter has no place in my vision for our city. I have two in-depth statements on this issue and on homelessness in general on my campaign website, www.supportmikevolz.com.
6. What is the appropriate role for your jurisdiction in working with others – such as the County and Intercity Transit – to meet the goals laid out by the Sustainable Thurston Task Force?
JH: An appropriate role for the City of Olympia in working with others is to help facilitate the partnerships. To meet the goals laid out by the Sustainable Thurston Task Force, all the stakeholders, including Olympia, must work together to bring the vision to reality. To be successful we must have a strong relationship with our partners. Olympia’s role is to not only join our voice with our partners to leverage our combined political weight and capital but to help nurture the relationship between all of the parties.
MV: The council can always do more to strengthen its working relationship with other jurisdictions. With regard to the Sustainable Thurston Task Force, I am still doing research to learn as much as possible before taking such a monumental step. I strongly encourage each and every one of our readers to do the same.