Wilkeson voters will whittle mayoral candidates to final two

Wilkeson voters are being asked to whittle a field of three down to a final two.

A trio of candidates are seeking the city's highest post, but only the favored pair will advance from the current primary election and appear on November's general election ballot. Primary ballots have already been sent and tallying comes to a close Tuesday.

Town voters are choosing from an experienced trio as they look to replace current mayor Donna Hogerhuis. Among the candidates, Doug Paulson previously served as mayor, Bob Walker has served a stint on the Town Council and David Wright has served on the town's Planning Commission.

The Courier-Herald sent the same four questions to each. Wright and Walker provided answers while Paulson reported that information from the Pierce County Voters Pamphlet would suffice.

The four questions were:

1 – What is Wilkeson's greatest asset and what would you, as mayor, do to capitalize on that asset?

2 – What is the biggest problem facing Wilkeson and what would you do to help alleviate the situation?

3 – What would you do to assure Wilkeson of a healthy financial future?

4 – In 10 years will Wilkeson be the same as today? If the town will be different, how?

Bob Walker

• Wilkeson has many great assists. The first is its history; Wilkeson at one time was the largest town in the state of Washington and was a major coal producer. I believe that we need to remember our history and work on restoring some of it. I would like to refurbish some of the coke ovens and let people see some of the things that make this community so unique. Another asset is the small town atmosphere. I would like Wilkeson to keep the small town atmosphere by promoting town picnics and other activities like this that keeps the residents close. A third asset is that Wilkeson has a good working relationship with the communities around us. We need to do everything possible to keep these relationships.

• I believe that we do not have enough successful businesses in town. We need to promote a few new businesses into town along with a little tourism.  I believe that the town needs to show  continual support of the Wilkeson day’s event and help try to bring more people into town  during that weekend. I think that we can support other activities like bicycle rallies, half-marathons and other creative ideas to bring people into town to see what a great community this is. This will also help with revenue.

• I believe some of the ideas that I stated in the previous question would help with the financial future of Wilkeson. It has been a tough time financially for everyone the past few years. I am not going to make promises at this time that I may not be able to keep.  I would have to sit down with the council and take a look at where changes might have to be made to help the financial future of the town.

• I know that I stated earlier that I would love to see more tourism in town. With that being said, I still want Wilkeson to stay the small town that it is. I have lived in this town for 56 years and can  remember how close the community was. I want to try to make sure that the town stays that  way. This has been a great place to raise my family and I want other families to feel that same way.

David Wright

• A town's greatest asset is its citizens. Wilkeson's greatest strides came at times when the community as a whole participated in town projects. For instance, the STEP Program involving dozens of citizens, young and old, installed new sewer lines throughout the town in 1997. Similarly, teams of citizens and town employees filled pot holes, built equipment at the city park, and constructed the fence around the recycling station.

• Community involvement has declined in recent years and Wilkeson's accomplishments have diminished. We need to reinvigorate the spirit of collective accomplishment in Wilkeson. The Washington State Municipal Research and Service Center offers a publication called "Governments are from Saturn, Citizens are from Jupiter: Strategies for Reconnecting Citizens and Government." This publication addresses our mutual responsibilities to make government work for all of us. Specifically, it suggests ways to bring government communication into the new information age.

• We need to re-establish the town's webpage, making freely available municipal documents, including our Comprehensive Plan. Online access, with clear indexing, would make readily accessible thousands of pages of rules and regulations, rather than relying on collective memory and interpretations of complex documents.  The website should provide online forms such as building permits, variances, and grievances, making them available from home. Moreover, a digital newsletter could supplement the Post Office bulletin board and replace the inserts currently included with the water bills.

• A cooperative community, united in common goals, impassioned by its collective strengths, will ensure Wilkeson's financial future. A successful mayor creates an atmosphere for the town's citizens to participate in the development of their town, to set their own goals for our future, and to make available tools to achieve those goals. In less than ten years I would hope to see the shelters built at our school bus stops to keep our school children out of the winter weather. Wilkeson should expand the annual collection day and offer more options for residents to dispose of refuse and yard waste. Most importantly, Wilkeson needs to investigate the reason behind having one of the highest sewer and water bills in the state and quickly make adjustments to ease that burden on its citizens.

Doug Paulson

Elected Experience: mayor for the Town of Wilkeson 2002-2006

Other Professional Experience: King County Maintenance Planner

Statement: I believe in fair and consistent actions and the town employees are one of our greatest assets and they shall be respected and allowed to maintain the town's infrastructure and finances.


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