My Priorities

Michael's priorities for Tumwater

Sustainability

We must keep our promise to the next generation and leave our community more beautiful and ecologically healthy than when we found it. There’s no reason why our growth as a community and environmental sustainability have to be mutually exclusive.

Tumwater's population is projected to grow by nearly 70 percent by 2035. This means more gridlock and poorer air quality as traffic increases. I will advocate for more bicycle-friendly commuter planning, including both bike lanes and connected trails, and improved public transportation throughout the region as a means to reduce the number of cars on our roadways. I will also advocate for more density including incentivizing mixed-use and multi-family housing options along our transit corridor in the Brewery District and along Capitol Way to Israel Road. Additional mixed-use development and neighborhood commercial zoning will help make Tumwater a more walkable city as well.

I support maintaining a vibrant parks system that is enjoyed both today and by future generations. Tumwater’s parks are a gateway to our community’s rich heritage and natural beauty. We are fortunate to have a terrific Parks system that provides affordable recreation opportunities through sport, leisure, trails, and wildlife viewing. Our parks – particularly Tumwater Falls – remain attractions that bring tourism and visitors into our city. Preservation of these resources are critical for the identity that the city is trying to cultivate.

The Deschutes River is the focal point of our community and the foundation of our regional identity. We have a special responsibility for making decisions that improve this vital waterway’s health. Restoring the Deschutes Estuary is essential to working towards this goal. Addressing Capitol Lake’s water quality issues, sediment build-up, and invasive species requires a long- term, economically viable solution.

I’m proud to be endorsed by Thurston Environmental Voters.

Opportunity

As a non-profit legal aid attorney, I advocate on behalf of some of our most vulnerable neighbors. My work focuses on removing barriers to opportunity while also increasing access to combat poverty in our community.

During my time on the Tumwater Planning Commission, I added language to our city’s comprehensive plan encouraging us to work with the school district as well as local community organizations to provide greater support for homeless students.

In 2015, I filed an amicus brief to the ongoing school funding McCleary case arguing that students who experience outside barriers to education, like homelessness, hunger, or experience in the foster care system, lack the same access to educational opportunity as their more affluent peers. There are 184 homeless K-12 students in the Tumwater School District alone. That’s not even including the homeless youth that are not enrolled in school or those who are homeless, but do not self-report.

As your councilmember, I will partner with neighboring municipalities, civic organizations, and elected officials to address our homelessness crisis.

Tumwater’s first step in ending homelessness needs to be a wholesale study of what the problem looks like for the city. Tumwater does not yet have a needs-based analysis of the population which inhibits our ability to make informed decisions about providing services. This is an issue I hope to lead on once elected to council.

Safety

Police and Fire make up about 60 percent of our city’s budget. These services are at the heart of what citizens expect from their local government - and they should look the part. That means investing and maintaining facilities and equipment so our public servants have the tools necessary to do their jobs. When we drive by a fire station or police station, we should be proud of those buildings and the public servants inside of them.

I’m interested in finding creative ways to reduce cost while increasing outcomes for residents in need of services. Other local fire departments, like Kent, have found that having a human services professional on staff provided greater levels of service at reduced cost, particularly for those with chronic behavioral health issues. I’m interested to see if a similar regional partnership is possible for Thurston County.

Washington State - and the country, for that matter - is evolving in its thinking around criminal justice and we’re no exception here in Tumwater. We now know that the crime of driving with a suspended license accounts for about 25 percent of all prosecutions statewide and that the vast majority of these infractions occur not due to public safety concerns, but rather the inability to pay a fine. Suspending a license can have a debilitating impact on families - especially those struggling to make ends meet who need a car to get to work or take their children to the doctor. I want to work with the Police Department and the county courts to reduce this cycle of debt and poverty.

Brewery District

While both the former Olympia Brewery on Capitol and the old Schmidt Brewery across from Tumwater Historical Park represent the city’s past, they also represent the city’s potential future.

Restoring the Brewery and creating a true business district on Capitol Way is essential to increasing economic opportunity in Tumwater. I grew up in Lacey and I remember when the Brewery was a point of pride for all of Thurston County. I remember driving by on the freeway or down capitol and you could smell the malt and barley and hops. The brewery sits in the historical heart of our city and has sat derelict for too long. I support transforming the property into a destination that brings economic opportunity to our region while at the same time respecting the space’s history and keeping our small-town feel.

We also need to do what we can to ensure the old brewery across the river from Tumwater Historical Park is preserved. The tower currently lacks a roof and with each winter, more and more brick is chipped away by the elements. The city is now the caretaker of the tower and has a duty to ensure that it stays standing. Through grants, state funding, and volunteer effort, I believe we can put a roof on the building without jeopardizing critical funding for other important projects or services.