Yakima County contains one of Washington State’s most diverse agricultural cropping systems and is the #1 County in Washington based on the market value of crop and livestock products. (We are also the 12th largest agricultural producing county in the nation.) Agriculture contributes over $1.2 billion to our local economy. Not only is agriculture vital to our economy but it is part of our heritage and who we are as a people.
I support protecting our farmland and ensuring we have working lands. This will be accomplished by ensuring our Horizon 2040 Comprehensive Plan, as required by the Growth Management Act (GMA), does little to no impact on agriculture production lands. Our agriculture industry continues to evolve in growing and harvesting techniques, product development, technology and reach into newer markets. Ensuring we have vital land accessible to promote opportunities for the next great innovators is a top priority.
The County will continue to face the realities of an unstable supply chain, the rising cost of gas, high inflation, and rising wages in the near future. Some economists have predicted it will take an additional two years for the supply chain and labor market to stabilize. During this time of increasing inflation, looming interest rate hikes, and a potential recession, we need to ensure we do not place additional economic burdens on residents by increasing tax revenues. The County will need to take innovative approaches in order to combat these challenges. I have served as a Chief Financial Officer and understand the importance of budgeting and appropriation of funds. I will bring these experiences to help manage, adapt, and balance our County’s budget.
I support moving County legislative business to a more accessible time and place for citizens. For most county business to happen in the middle of the workday is exclusionary and does not promote public participation or accountability. We need to ensure County resources are accessible to everyone in our community and this includes providing bilingual services. We need to continue online zoom options for Commissioner Study Sessions and meetings and also ensure our County’s website is updated to better display services.
Every effort should be made to keep Yakima County’s tax dollars local. The easiest way to do this is to spend our dollars within our local community and support our local businesses and services. I support a review of the County’s public procurement process to allow for competitive bidding and to give our local businesses a step up. The County’s goal should promote a diverse and dynamic community with a healthy economy and environment where people and businesses have the opportunity to thrive.
I will remain accessible and present in our community, attending community events and making my direct phone and email available to anyone.
We must develop an effective crisis response system that can help people quickly exit homelessness to break the cycle. We need to implement sustainable solutions like addressing substance abuse and mental health which are the root cause of chronic homelessness for many. We know there is a direct correlation to homelessness when there are rising costs of rent that are greater than 30% of what you take home.
When there are not enough homes on the market, people pay more. From my time on the Yakima County Planning Commission, it’s become abundantly clear that it’s time for us to innovate on land-use policies, accelerate permit timelines, and alleviate all hidden fees. A combination of all three will allow us to have a greater housing supply at all levels. We especially need affordable and attainable entry-level housing.
Everyone deserves to feel safe, especially in their own homes and neighborhoods. We need to ensure our Sheriff’s office has the resources to address out-of-control crimes and fight the opioid and drug epidemic. The county plays a central role in providing a coordinated response to the rising gang-related crimes in our cities. It is no longer just a city issue but a county issue. I support the creation of a regional dispatch center, a regional crime lab, and a collaborative approach to sharing gang-related information across all our cities and jurisdictions.