Have you seen all the signs for candidates and issues around town? Many deal with contestants running for the Enumclaw City Council. Four seats are open and changes are going to happen no matter who wins. I have hopes that the changes will bring a paradigm shift for the council.
I served on the council from 2009-11. At that time, and to the present, the overriding view of the role of the council has been to act as a check on Mayor Reynolds and her administration. The council was primarily passive, waiting for the mayor’s plans and objectives. They would then decide whether they would support or reject those plans, rarely having solutions of their own.
The current council has been neither proactive nor involved with organizations like Suburban Cities or the Puget Sound Regional Council. These bodies have an impact upon Enumclaw. When I asked Mayor Reynolds who served on these regional councils, she responded, “They are mostly comprised of (city) council members. I only know of three mayors who are active in Suburban Cities, and I am one of them.”
According to the mayor it would be wonderful to have a council person serving as an alternate to her on Suburban Cities. “It would allow our city government to be a well-rounded organization of regional involvement.”
It’s time to change the council paradigm to one of being solution oriented. Ideally, the council should work in collaboration with the mayor rather than sitting back and waiting for the mayor to decide what should be done.
According to my conversation with the mayor, she is enthusiastic about the new council prospects, and welcomes new ideas and dialogue. She is optimistic that collaboration will become the new paradigm for the council.
The city and the nation have gone through major change over the past five years with the recession bringing significant cutbacks. Because of careful management of finances, the city has reserves and a slowly-growing increase in tax revenue and income as the economy recovers. But we are not out of the woods yet. More financial changes will be required to keep city finances healthy.
There are ways to resurrect downtown business, some of which have already been initiated. We have seen the coming of the Kidney Dialysis Center on state Route 410 with 10 to 15 new employees. The AJAC Apprenticeship Program has been implemented, creating jobs with five local industries. Business-friendly code changes have been implemented. That is a good start. We’ve annexed new areas into the city, which need to be carefully developed with the idea of creating a cohesive community.
There is no one solution that will be the fix-all to our economy. Some say tourism, but it will probably be more diverse than that. Whatever jobs are created, they need to be living wage.
Research shows that the more people communicate and interact, both in organized settings and spontaneous meetings, the more creativity is generated. More new ideas and projects will be created and developed. These bonds and connections need to be improved and extended. That will require work and a council who participates at local events, and is out mingling with their constituents, listening to their ideas.
Enumclaw has a great deal going for it. We live in a beautiful region of the United States. We have a strong sense of community and a cohesiveness that few cities enjoy. A strong, collaborative council can go a long way toward enlivening our town.
I’m hopeful that, with the election of these four council positions, the city will see a paradigm shift toward more active involvement, not only from the council, but also from us the constituents of Enumclaw. Change is at the door.