The major environmental initiative I promoted, in early 2021, was a county-wide emergency resolution regarding the #1 environmental issue of our time: the climate crisis. The County simultaneously adopted the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan, allocated funding of $337,500 for implementation strategies, and hired a Climate Program Coordinator and associate planner to get right to work. There's no time to waste, and change starts locally!
Regarding water quality, I increased the number of county stormwater engineers, and funded a large expansion of the County's septic monitoring program. I fought against attempts to decimate the County's low-impact development standards and shoreline buffers. Additionally, I was chosen to represent South Sound watershed stakeholders on the state's Salmon Recovery Council, where I have provided a strong voice on salmon recovery policy for the entire Puget Sound.
Another challenge has been the struggle to preserve Thurston County's dwindling agricultural lands. I supported policies designed to preserve farmland and limit unnecessary expansion of mining operations. I voted to fund an agricultural liaison position, and to re-evaluate the criteria by which the County designates “Long-Term Agriculture” zoning. I am also proud to have restored long-term funding to our local Thurston Conservation District.
Finally, I successfully opposed poorly-thought-out growth management proposals, such as a massive industrial warehouse complex at the sensitive Rocky Prairie site, and a massive regional, Sea-Tac-sized airport in Southwest Thurston County. The community spoke loudly and clearly in opposing these proposals, and I was proud to be able to carry the community's voice forward.
Land use issues are some of the most challenging, but most important, that face a County Commissioner. I will continue to work towards the right balance for Thurston County between development and the environment, by following science and data, looking for win/win compromises, and always listening to the community's input. A healthy natural environment is the most valuable resource we have in our County.