- Public Safety
Keeping our community safe is the most important responsibility of the county. While the Sheriff’s department provides patrol for areas outside the cities, the Court system and County Jail serve all of Clark County.
Clark County’s court system has for many years implemented therapeutic courts, such as drug court and veteran’s court. These innovative approaches are proven to provide better results by providing alternatives to incarceration and lower rates of recidivism. I’m committed to continue supporting these programs.
The greatest challenge facing our community when it comes to public safety is our aging jail facility. Many of its components are well past their life expectancy, leading to costly repairs and rising maintenance costs. Whether we build a new jail or conduct an extensive renovation of the current facility, this will be a costly endeavor. While the County will be the lead on this project, it will require the support of all the cities and ultimately the voters of Clark County to approve the final construction and financing plan.
Clark County maintains thousands of miles of transportation infrastructure – from multi-lane, multi-modal, urban arterials to two-lane rural roads. Transportation planning cannot be a “one size fits all” approach.
I support continuing to look for innovative ways to connect people to their communities in our growing urban area – such as requiring new developments to provide better pedestrian activity. We tested this through developer agreements around 179th Street, and I will continue to work to implement this county-wide.
Over the course of the next four years, C-Tran will both start and finish construction, as well as begin service of the second bus rapid transit line in Clark County. This line, which will connect downtown Vancouver with East Vancouver, terminating at Clark College, runs through the middle of Council District 3.
As Vice-Chair of the C-Tran Board of Directors, I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand how C-Tran engages with the community: working with property owners adjacent to or near the proposed stops to discuss how best to integrate the new platforms into the existing development; talking with users of the system to gain insights how the new line can best serve the community; and working with City and State partners to find ways the construction of the BRT line can also improve the flow of vehicle traffic in this congested corridor. I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition over the next four years.
Finally, while there is very rural area within my district, I recognize that maintaining and improving our rural roads is important to the entire county. One accomplishment from the last four years that I am particularly thankful for is the addition of the NE 182nd Ave / SR-500 intersection to the 6 year Transportation Improvement Program. This intersection – just outside of District 3 – was of high concern for many neighbors because of the growth in the area. By working with County staff and WSDOT, we were able to secure funding for preliminary design of the intersection.
- Public Health
The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought to the forefront the importance of Public Health investment. This is a message that counties have been taking to the state legislature for many years. Last year I testified in front of both Washington House and Senate Committees about the need for defining and funding Foundational Public Health Services.
Because of the advocacy work of the Washington State Association of Counties and outreach from County Commissioners and Councilors across the state, HB1497 was passed and signed by the governor last year.
Foundational public health includes preparing and responding to disease outbreaks, like COVID-19, but also insuring public safety through restaurant inspections, testing for bacteria at swim beaches, and outreach to the community about how to stay healthy.
Another success in the area of public health during the last four years was the temporary funding of the Nurse Family Partnership program. This program, which connects a public health nurse with an high-risk, expectant mother to address both the mother and child’s health, was previously funded by a grant. This program has existed nationally for years and results in lower rates of child abuse, kids better prepared for school, mothers less likely to end up on welfare or other government subsidies, and many more positive results. It is estimated that every dollar spent on NFP saves taxpayers ten times that amount.
When the grant ran out, Clark County agreed to help fund the program for one year to allow time to seek new funding. PeaceHealth generously stepped in to provide long-term funding for the program. Without the support of the Clark County Council providing that bridge funding, dozens of mothers and their children would be at higher risk.