Joe Deets – An In-Depth Community Conversation

Bainbridge Island City Council District 7 (North Ward) candidate Joe Deets recently sat down to answer 12 issue-and-policy-based questions with Chamber President Stefan Goldby ahead of the 2021 General Election. Recorded via Zoom as an individual 1-on-1 session, this interview is part of a series talking in depth to all eight of the 2021 candidates for Bainbridge City Council.

Each candidate was allotted up to 45 minutes to answer a set of questions written in consultation with Chamber members with expert local knowledge of a specific topic. Each conversation features the same questions being asked of all candidates, and in the interest of fairness, none of the candidates were shown any of the questions ahead of the interview session.

We hope that this format provides a chance for Islanders to see each of the prospective councilmembers share their thoughts and potential solutions to some of the big challenges facing the Bainbridge community in full, without interruption or editing.

Each of the candidate’s unabridged responses are presented here as full transcriptions, and below as an unedited video clip, accompanied by timestamps for each individual question.

Learn more about Joe Deets:
In the Chamber’s initial email interview: https://bainbridgechamber.com/questions-for-the-candidates-north-ward/
At the official campaign website: https://www.joedeetsforcouncil.com/
At the official campaign facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JoeDeetsforCityCouncil

Read the full interview here, or if you prefer to watch, simply jump straight to the video interview


Stefan Goldby: So let’s begin with community engagement: Can you talk about which Island organizations you previously worked for, with, or volunteered at?

Well, I’ve been on Bainbridge for 20 years, arrived here in 2000. So I have been engaged – I’ve been engaged with the City from very early on, because I worked in clean energy from pretty much the time I arrived here. So I’ve worked with numerous organizations on the island for advancing clean energy.

I, let me see, certainly the Senior Center, I’ve worked as I mentioned with the City and this was pre-council days, I did a community solar project on City Hall that was installed in 2012. That is still the largest photovoltaic system on the island. And let’s see, worked quite a bit with Puget Sound Energy – a lot of this is energy related.

But let me just also say I, well, I volunteered at the school district because well, I’m a dad and my kid goes to school here, so I did that. I also was a volunteer for Hospice of Kitsap County for a couple years. And yeah, prior to Council, I was on the Ethics Board for two years, I was chair of the Ethics Board.

So much of my, my engagement with the community has been, one, in clean energy, and two, with the City. And also in the clean energy, I’ll just say a part of my work was we did a what we call “go solar” campaigns. People might have heard of ‘Solarize… whatever’ campaigns. There’s a Solarize Thurston County right now as we speak, well, we did our version of that of Go Solar Bainbridge or Go Solar South Kitsap. And that was the geographically concentrated effort to help people go solar. We had an installer, we had a finance company, we had a solar manufacturer, all pooled together. So a lot of engagement with the community on Bainbridge for, well – since I’ve been here.

SG: So you’ve been actively campaigning and talking to islanders for a while now. What would you say are the top three concerns you hear from our community? And did any of them surprise you?

JD: Um, well, let’s just say I’ve been a Council member for three plus years. I’ve made it my practice to be very accessible. I’ve had open office hours from January 2018 since I was elected, so I’ve met hundreds of constituents, hearing about their concerns. And also as a candidate I’ve been canvassing, doorbelling and… I’ll just go to the canvassing because it’s what springs to mind. Which I’m doing today by the way, we’ve knocked on hundreds and hundreds of doors this last month or so and the concerns of people are affordable housing, traffic.

A lot of people like bike trails – they say, Hey, you know, this bike trail that was just installed, we love it, we really thank you for doing that. Or, we really would like a bike trail. So affordable housing, transportation, traffic. You know, occasionally some development questions, which I’m happy to, you know, whatever is important to constituents is important to me. Let me just say that.

Certainly talking to the business community, it is finding workers. That is a critical issue. I mean, just spend some time talking to any employer on the island and chances are they are looking for workers. So that is a huge issue.

SG: The recent county-wide land use report concluded that our island’s growth is roughly on track to hit its intended 2036 levels, but that the growth itself is not happening in line with our community’s stated Comp Plan. Do you agree with that? And how do you think the island’s residential, commercial and community needs can best be balanced with the preservation of our natural resources?

JD: That was an earlier draft, yes, I think we’re at like 90%, or excuse me, 96% of our estimated goal. So we’ve basically been meeting our growth targets. And let me just say, when it comes to population allocation, I serve on the Kitsap County Regional Coordinating Committee, which is the broad organization that looks at this, and we will be examining this issue for the coming future.

Let’s just say by spring of next year, we will be making a final population allocation. Kitsap County has been targeted, given 34,000 people to plan for growth by 2050. And that’s what’s been given to us by the Puget Sound Regional Coordinating Council, and then it’s up to us the different jurisdictions on Kitsap County to say okay, of that 34,000, who gets what? Okay, so just broadly, that’s where we’re at.

The buildable lands report was, we just talked about this last night at the council meeting. I’ll just say I don’t want to get into the weeds here. But we Council members asked for some edits in that report. We didn’t want to give the impression that, hey, Bainbridge wants more growth – any more than we want. Again, we want smart growth, sustainable growth, we want… the Comprehensive Plan asks for or outlines, “Where’s the growth to happen? Does it happen in Winslow, in the designated centers?”

That’s where the growth happens. And why does the growth, why should the growth go there? That’s where the transportation network is, that’s where the ferry is. That’s where the buses are. That’s where the shops are. That’s where the schools are. That’s where businesses are. That’s where we want the growth to happen.

Has that been happening as we would like? Not, in my view, not as much as we would like, so it’s a little bit of, how do we direct – we had a little semantic argument offline the other day of – someone was saying, well, do we promote growth? And no, we don’t promote growth, you know, we the City, I would say we don’t promote growth, but we try and direct growth. Okay, what growth that comes in – we want to say, ok – this is where it should happen.

Now, having said that, you can’t tell people what to do with their land, right? So let’s be clear about that. But we want to make it easier, incentivize where the growth happens. It is in Winslow, so can we do a better job? Absolutely.

And we have one good technique, a tool that we actually have on our books, but we haven’t been using it very well. It’s called the transfer of development rights program, or TDR. We actually have had that since longer than I’ve been on the island, like 20 years, but it’s never been used. It was just very… ok, I don’t want to say what happened, what went wrong with it, but it was not utilized. And so now we’re taking another serious look at a TDR program.

And very quickly, what is a TDR program? That’s where folks in the rural areas, they can sell their development rights to say, someone in the designated center who owns property, like in Winslow, say, and so you get paid  if you own, you know, certain acreage in the in the rural areas, you could sell the development rights to someone who then takes those rights and develops it in Winslow.

So it’s what we call density neutral, because you’re just shifting the density from where maybe someone would have done it to where we would like it to happen. That’s like creating a whole market. And it’s, so it’s, there’s a bit of complexity to it. But I would say certainly I’m strongly in favor of that, of spending time and resources to make that happen.

So I think in answer to your question, is, yeah, the growth target’s basically… we are in line with it. But can we do a better job to steer the growth where it makes sense, as opposed to where maybe it, like, makes less sense for us? Because if it’s spread out all over the island, then suddenly we have more transportation issues, more infrastructure issues. So let’s put the growth where it should go.

SG: That leads to a natural follow-up question, What do you think requires the most urgent update in the current Winslow master plan?

JD: I would say – targeting some of the districts for what we call inclusionary zoning. And – such as the ferry district, and maybe the high school district, I have to make sure I got those… I think it’s generally those. But so what is inclusionary zoning –  is that there we will allow a greater density in exchange for something – a public benefit, which a public benefit to us, is affordable housing.

So we get it sort of like –  you go to the developers that we want to build and say, ok, you and we want to build a certain size. Great, you’ll do that. But what do we get? We the City, which is representing the community, so an inclusionary zoning program.

We did talk about that just when COVID was hitting so and then nothing’s happened since then. So, we’re gonna revisit that issue. But inclusionary zoning is like a TDR program, there’s a bit of complexity, and I am not, I don’t have a decision to make on what allowances do we have, it’s very much a moving part, when it comes to inclusionary zoning – how much are we willing to give up for this community benefit?

And so let me just say, I’m like – let’s explore it. But, I’m not coming out and saying, yes, this is what we’re going to do – I want to find out. What do we… how much do we need to give up? You know, in terms of building height, and, and density? Because no-one wants a six-story building on the island, I don’t think, but is there some targeted locations in Winslow that we could perhaps do some more denser allocations, and then get something in return?

SG: COVID has prompted an unprecedented shift in the operations of businesses, nonprofits, and even City operations. What parts of that pivot do you think will turn out to be permanent changes, and how can the City best support those changes?

JD: I think what we have seen is, I mentioned this before, is the hiring issues. My understanding of pandemics is it for whatever reason, tends to favor labor, the follow-up after pandemics, and that seems to be happening here. And across the boards, across the country. And so we’re seeing it here that again, businesses are having a terrible time getting workers – and why are they? Why it is because workers don’t live here – we have an extreme affordable housing issue. So that is a huge emphasis for me – to address that. So let me say make sure I understand the question. I don’t want to get off track here – was this what is the City doing to help businesses relating to the pandemic?

SG: And nonprofits and just generally that the organizations on the island are looking very different from the way they did a couple of years ago. How can the City support that? 

JD: Okay, well, another area is, first off when the pandemic hit, the City has, unlike other cities, does not have an economic development person. We do not have anyone on staff who would step up and help.

So I volunteered to step up because there was sort of a vacuum and what did that entail? I’m just a Council member. I’m not a full-time employee to do this. But I would engage with the Chamber – engage with you, Stefan, and your predecessor, and the Downtown Association and say, “What do you need?” You guys, you two organizations are kind of our conduit to understand the needs of the business community. So what do you need?

So I took it on to start that process that was, like, in May of last year, I think, I’m trying to remember now. And that’s where we started regular engagement with between, let’s say, myself as representing the City with the Chamber… I’d come to your meetings regularly as you know and try to understand what do you need? And some of it is, I like to see, well, first off, City, don’t get in the way when businesses are trying to survive. And you know, they’re trying to make a reasonable effort.

One area that I was pursuing and wanting to make sure businesses knew, that, say, you have a retail establishment on the street… and people are having difficulty, you know, they don’t want to come into the store. And maybe it’s a restaurant, for example. Well, you can have outdoor seating and you know, this is not a novel idea – Seattle’s doing this, Poulsbo’s doing this. I, and we wanted to make sure that was available, that it was known that yes, if you want to have seating outside, or like say the dance center on Madison, they actually have an outdoor dance school. So allowing that and not making this an issue, you know – trying to make it easy on our part. So that you come to us, and this was my emphasis to the City – let’s make it easy for these permits. And hopefully that’s been happening.

I have not heard there have been any permitting issues, but part of my job as a Council member is if there’s issues, whatever they are, please let me know, because I will then go to the City Manager who returns my phone calls. So I would say engaging – first off, acknowledging the issue that the businesses and nonprofits need help. We need a viable economy in our community.

It is amazing that I have to say this, but… these people have their livelihood, they hire workers, we need this for our community and they provide essential services. So how do we do that? And a lot of its starting with engagement with businesses, which for whatever reason, there had been, let’s just say, a mixed history, relationship between the City and businesses. And I want to change that and, and hopefully that is starting to evolve to the positive, where there is more engagement. Doesn’t mean that we’re always seeing eye to eye on things, because we have a particular perspective to businesses, but I think we share the common interests, at least I do.

And I know I have colleagues in Council who share this interest that we need a viable, functioning economy on our island. So engagement, not getting in the way. We did give some help. We provided a grant program for small businesses. And to be candid, I just thought that was kind of a band aid, you know, it kind of came and went. We helped, what was it? – 40 businesses, but it was something.

So moving forward, again, I think it’s a mixed bag how things are going. I think probably some businesses are doing pretty well. I mean, you go into Winslow on the weekend and it’s – as a local it’s crazy. You don’t want to go to Winslow. That’s when the boat people come. So I think some businesses are, I would think are doing well. Quick aside:  the business that my daughter works at, told me last Saturday was the best day they ever had. So, so things are looking up, but… we are not by any means out of the woods.

SG: One of the biggest business challenges for our island community is finding new employees. And the biggest struggle those potential hires point to is the lack of affordable workforce housing. You’ve talked about inclusionary zoning. Beyond that, what are the practical steps that you’re prepared to take to address the island’s need for affordable housing?

JD: We started last night. We, Council, in our business meeting last night… the City, Bainbridge Island, received $7 million in from the federal government for what’s called the American Rescue Plan Act – funding $7 million. And there was some talk, you know, things that we couldn’t put the money in, and some we can, but it was fairly broad, actually. So $7 million we allocated, I was very pleased – $3.75 million for affordable housing, which was more than Housing Resources Bainbridge was asking, so we actually exceeded their request.

I can’t wait to call Phedra and say, hey, how do you like that?!! So what that will do, specifically, one – making life easier for Housing Resources Bainbridge to do some particular projects they have in the works – it will save them time. Talking with Phedra a few days ago, she said, if we met their request for the three and a half million, it would save them two years. So we just advanced affordable housing, you know, if I understand it, by two years, so that is something very real, concrete. And I want to continue doing that. As much as we can.

We do have an allocation that we get, oh, gosh, sorry, I’m trying to remember  – it was in our car tab fees. But we get… $500,000 a year, we’re gonna get annually that we can allocate for affordable housing, a recurring revenue source, so that – that is a continual funding request – funding that will be happening.

And so your question, what are we doing for affordable housing? Again, trying to make things easier for Housing Resources Bainbridge, helping them because they are our partner, that we’re not developers, we’re not housing folks. But we set policy, we have a budget, we can make decisions to help make these things move forward.

Other areas relating to affordable housing that I would like to see is the city does own some… land that really looks surplus to me. Where you’re not gonna talk about the police station, but I’ll very quickly say there’s three sites for the police station, and we’re only naturally going to choose one of three sites in terms of property the City owns. So those properties – the two that we don’t choose – I would like to see us use that for affordable housing. Maybe that’s another question down the list. I’ll go into more detail on that.

SG: Well, that’s a part of another issue as well. Put simply, how best do you think diversity of all kinds can be increased on Bainbridge Island?

JD: First of all, we absolutely need diversity. Bainbridge is becoming a very stratified community. What is the average home price? I think the last I heard was $1.4 million, which let’s just say, is insane. I mean, I couldn’t afford to move here now. You know, I moved here in 2000. And it’s just gone through the roof. So that is not a healthy community, where, unless you’re exceptionally wealthy, you can’t afford to buy a home. So to me, that highlights a real problem of having a diverse, vibrant community.

So if the question is how important is that, I’m trying to make sure I’m answering the question: It’s critical. But it’s also a very hard problem to solve – whenever you’re trying to solve a market-based issue, whether it’s getting away from fossil fuels, or affordable housing, things of that nature. In my experience it’s, it’s very hard, but you can do it. We can – and we must – do that.

SG: So how best do you think can we do that? How can we foster that?

JD: One is electing the right Council, folks. That’s my segue, is elections matter, they really do. And not everyone on Council is on board for affordable housing. I mean, it’s they say some folks will talk… no one will say they’re against it, but actions speak louder than words. Let me just say: We have not done a good job on affordable housing. That’s been a real disappointment to me. And so last night was a big step in the right direction.

Another step we took was we’re initiating what’s called a housing action plan. And what a housing action plan is you sort of look at what is our inventory, what is the needs of our housing? And what do we have? So it helps us target, what is our solution, because we need to understand, I mean, we understand, I understand, we need housing, but what exactly do we need? And so we, we have that analysis. So that’s something that we are moving forward on.

And speaking of Council support, let me just say when we voted on that in April – you think this was a no-brainer, but it was a close call – just 4-3 on Council to move forward on a housing action plan. Get outta here! And I was the swing vote, I couldn’t believe it. I’m the only Council member running for re-election who voted in favor of it. So something to keep note of with who else you’re interviewing.

SG: Beyond that issue, what kinds of infrastructure improvement do you think Bainbridge needs?

JD: Certainly sustainable transportation. I mentioned just doing all the canvassing work I’m doing. It’s great, because hey I’m meeting people that normally I wouldn’t have spoken with as constituents. And I would say, people talk about bike trails, trying to get around. We need to do that. And, and again, going back to last night’s allocation, we gave sustainable transportation the maximum money we could, which was $2 million. So we have a sustainable transportation plan that will be launched fairly soon. I’m not on that committee, but my understanding is that they’re very, very close to rolling out the plan.

So we’re sort of getting ahead of that saying, we know you’re gonna have some projects that you’re going to say we should do, here’s at least $2 million to get the ball rolling. So that is very real. And what why is that important is then that helps people get around, not use their cars. It’s a quality of life issue, it’s an equity issue, maybe not everyone can afford multiple cars.

My family, I have three drivers… we have one car, so we try and enforce – Hey, if you’re the one without a car and you need it, get on your bike. There’s also – let me just quickly mention an alternative to having a car is Ride Pingo, which is an app that Kitsap transit launched on Bainbridge as a pilot program. And what is Ride Pingo? It is a Uber-based app for public transit.

So you’re at your house or wherever you’re at, and you say I want to go somewhere else on the island, you have the app and you say I want to go from here to here and the bus will come pick you up. I’ve been using that on a regular basis when I had my meetings with the city manager. So reducing reliances on your personal car – that can save money. And if you’re smart about it, then you don’t need that extra car. And it takes traffic off the road. So let me see, if that was, make sure I’m following all your questions. Stefan.

SG: Infrastructure, any other kinds of infrastructure?

JD: Yeah, so okay, so sustainable transportation. I am also on the – what’s called the 305 Working Group. And what is that – that’s a regional Working Group, between Bainbridge, the tribe, City of Poulsbo, WSDOT and the County and that is, broadly speaking, tdoing road improvements on 305 from the ferry terminal to Hostmark. The state gave us $36 million to spend, which is not nearly enough.

And – people have heard the discussions about two proposed roundabouts on Ada’s Will, and West Port Madison – that is part of those, that project that the monies that we got from the state. And in what will that do is, I’m sure all the listeners know that the traffic coming onto the island is horrendous, and the traffic in the morning and then similarly, the traffic isn’t just coming off the island in the afternoon.

Why is that? Probably I’m guessing… hmmm – Workers are coming onto the island or commuters, and so we really need to address this, these bottlenecks on 305. And so those roundabouts are designed to help the traffic flow through better. So that’s a very big infrastructure project. And that I’m quite familiar with.

SG: What do you think the general trend of falling enrollment in Bainbridge’s highly-rated and well-funded public school district is most indicative of?

JD: Small families with young children can’t afford to live here. Seems pretty obvious with the… medium house price of what, 1.4 million? You know, that is a flashing danger sign. That really is. And I’ll just say – thought to myself here – I need to have the school district engage with us and help promote the issues of affordable housing. They do come out in support of that. But I’d frankly like to see more effort. And let me say, this occurs to me, they own a lot of surplus land, come to think of it, the school district does. Maybe they can give some of that out for affordable housing projects: It’s not just the City.

So yes, it’s certainly it’s not a healthy sign. I mean, think of it, the population in this region is increasing exponentially, and yet our school enrollment is going down? That’s counterintuitive until you realize why is that happening? Who knows – what people can afford to live here are not young families. So my candidacy is very family based. Unlike my opponent, everything… I’m trying to do is trying to help working families – be able to live here, be able to live here. Because that’s what makes a vibrant, healthy community.

SG: Should Bainbridge take a leadership position in reducing waste, educating consumers and promoting reusable items in our community’s everyday life? And if so, what would your key initiatives be in that area?

JD: Yes, and let me just say this is part of the waste reduction – part of the city’s Climate Action Plan that we approved last year, December of last year. We approved the plan, Council did, the plan that was put together by the Climate Change Advisory Committee. These are citizen volunteers with a high degree of expertise in the environment and climate action. And so, we approved the plan last year, which is an outline of actions the city and the community can take to basically make us more resilient with the changing climate – and among the actions is waste reduction as well as decarbonization and becoming more resilient, as our climate is obviously changing.

So waste reduction is a big part of that. We did pass an ordinance in June, relating to single-use plastics for retail food establishments, and then we are looking at a more broader ordinance for general waste reduction.

And a big part of what I push in moving forward with this broader ordinance, is let’s set up a task force. To look at this issue, let’s work – I’m very collaborative in my approach. So I like to not just, you know, me, or or the Council make a decision, let’s bring the stakeholders in on a particular issue. And this was a good example of this.

So I got my colleagues to agree, we set up a task force composed of a couple Council members, people from the environmental field with expertise in waste management, and business, folks. And so this task force started in July, and we’ve met, I don’t know, four or five times? Stefan – you’re on the task force.

SG: That’s right, yes.

JD: So this is something that’s in the works as we speak, trying to think when our next meeting is – next week. So that is something we need to do.

And it’s critical that it’s not just something Council says, lays down this is what you have to do business owner because so this was critical to me to bring in representatives from the business community who could say, well, this is what works – doesn’t work. And because you’re not going to be effective, unless you get you listen to all the stakeholders so. So reducing waste, yes.

And then, and then another relating to waste is I’m working with members of the Climate Change Advisory Committee to bring in a biodigester on Bainbridge Island. There have been some small versions of biodigesters on Bainbridge. We want to have a larger, more ambitious biodigester.

So we took a field trip – in May this year – to see a biodigester on Vashon Island. It was run by this company called Impact Bioenergy. We really like it. And we so, the short version of this story is we want to bring such a biodigester but even larger, to Bainbridge. And so I can just say last night, I received a letter of intent from a company that finances projects such as this. So stay tuned, we may well have a biodigester on Bainbridge.

We may well have an ordinance that make, takes measures to reduce our waste, but does it in a measured way. The last thing I want to see is to harm our business community. It’s going to be an adjustment, no doubt. But, but I think what I’ve seen from the taskforce, getting to that is, no one disagrees with the need to reduce waste. It’s just how do we do it? And so it’s a, it’s actually a tough nut to crack, as you know, Stefan, but I think we’re making progress on that.

SG: With only limited time and resources to tackle all these challenges of Bainbridge life in 2021, can you name the 1 to 3 specific actions that you would like to define the legacy of your potential next term of office?

JD: Definitely on the climate action. I have a clean energy background, So I would say that’s part of my DNA. So definitely start working on the implementation steps and the Climate Action Plan. I will hang my hat on it, I’m not sure I would say legacy, but you know, the work I do, why am I on Council, is how effective I am. And I will just say… I think uniquely qualified for doing that work. Because I have done clean energy projects. I’ve been a developer in clean energy, so I understand the finances and legal structures. So pursuing the Climate Action Plan – that’s a pretty big lift in and of itself.

Second is, again getting back to affordable housing.  let’s not take our – we got sidetracked for various reasons on affordable housing over the years – let’s get back to that and recommit ourselves. Last night was an important first step, but we need to continue that. We made great strides, but it’s not like we’re done. You know, I don’t think we’ll ever be done with addressing affordable housing, or will ever be done with climate change.

But we need that commitment. And you need someone like me, who takes on that as a committed role as, as that’s where I will work for you to make sure these things happen.

Another area, I would say, I think you asked for three, is equity. This is a very, let’s just say, white community. I’m a privileged, older white male, I fully admit it. And one thing that I have become more aware of as a Council member is that not everyone in this community feels welcome. And which frankly, I’ll be candid, that came as a surprise. I wasn’t aware. But I am very aware that now.

So how can we really actually be a more welcoming community? And that’s on the racial side; I would say that’s also on gender issues. And frankly, I’d say, class issues. So people have low income, the fact that they’re being displaced, and they can’t live here – What does that say for for equity? So this is why I want to stay on Council because I think we’re at work, like, at least pointed in the right direction, in every one of those areas, climate, housing, equity.

But I want to see that through for, you know, for another four years of hard work. And if I’m not elected, let me just say, my opponent is not of these views, at least not in the way that I am. So I think elections matter. And this is a very important election for people to decide.

SG: So in closing, we’ve talked about what you would like to do, how you’d like to do it. There’s another factor. Can you talk a little bit about what kind of working atmosphere you will strive to create on City Council if you are elected to it?

JD: The same atmosphere I’ve tried to cultivate as a Council member. As folks well know, it can get contentious on Council. It’s okay to have different views. I mean, there’s every one of my colleagues, there’s times where I’ve agreed with them, and there’s times I disagree. And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with having disagreement, but it’s how you express that and, and unfortunately, we have seen in the time that I’ve been in, I’ve had various colleagues come and left and I have new colleagues, and it’s been very disturbing to me some of the snide remarks, passive aggressive, or just downright nastiness on Council. And we need to, that doesn’t get you anywhere. To me, it does not.

And it’s to me, honestly, it’s a way of intimidating your colleague or intimidating staff or intimidating a constituent by belittling them and pretending that you know more than them. That is not my style. I’m inclusive and collaborative. From day one, as a Council member, I’ve had open office hours. I’ve probably been more open and transparent than any Council member. And that’s, I’m not bragging, that’s just simply a fact. So I’m all about inclusivity, listening, and then I vote, I have to make a decision.

Now, when I talk to constituents or colleagues, or maybe you step in and you say, Joe, I don’t understand why you voted this way. And then my job is to help you understand why I voted that. Now what I feel is successful is if you say, OK, I get it, I understand why you did it. I may not agree, but I understand why you did it.

To me that is what – at least understand why I made a decision, because I’m answerable to every decision, every vote I make on Council because I’m your representative. And, you know, I try – and not all our decisions are easy – at all.

Last night was very hard to decide what to do $7 million, just for example, and I think we came out very well. But I really think hard on every vote and really try and get it right.

And some of my most proudest votes actually were no. I did not vote for the Critical Areas Ordinance back in 2018 at the time. And now that it passed, then why was that at the time was – because there was a lot of dissent. There was the school board. The school district said, we have serious concerns about this ordinance, as did even such organizations as Friends of the Farms. So I heard, was hearing all this and so – why are we rushing into this? We’re not ready to vote. It was, that was my position. So I actually voted it down. And I, that was my position. I didn’t feel we were ready. And anyway, it passed anyway.

So what – similar with the police station when we paid $8,795,000 for Harrison, I felt we could get a better deal. I voted no. I totally agree we need a new police station. And maybe Harrison is the way to go. It could well be, but I honestly felt we could have gotten a better deal. Not by millions of dollars. But I thought we could have gotten a better deal. So I voted no.

So I guess what you need is someone to kind of critically analyze the issues. It’s not always gray, or black and white – it’s often gray or muddy and and make the best decision we can – at the time and under the circumstances.


NOTE:  Transcript has been edited only to reduce vocal repetition and improve clarity.
The uncut video is also included here, with all questions and answers (and any glitches or technical errors) intact.

Watch The Video:

Question-By-Question Chapter Markers

00:57 Community Engagement

03:22 3 Community Concerns

05:23 Land Usage

10:19 Winslow Master Plan

12:29 COVID Pivot

18:27 Affordable Housing

21:42 Equity & Diversity

24:52 Infrastructure

28:40 School Enrollment

30:23 Environmental Leadership

34:48 3 Specific Actions

38:02 Working Atmosphere


To see all eight of the 2021 City Council Candidate Interviews, head back to the Chamber News homepage…