After eight years on the Pierce County County Council and 16 years on the Gig Harbor City Council, today I’m stepping away from elected office. It was a privilege to serve the community I grew up in and give back to the people and places I love.
I’ve had the chance to work with and learn from incredible elected officials and staff locally and around the country. Most importantly, my Council Assistant John Jolibois, who’s been with me for the last eight years. He made it possible for me to be in more than one place at a time and gave excellent advice when I needed it most. John will be staying with Councilmember Denson.
Over the last eight years, we’ve made significant progress. While packing up my office, it was hard not to reflect on all we’ve accomplished together.
We passed our regional land use plan requiring local governments to plan for Housing/Jobs balance, adopted new Housing and Homelessness Plans, and made the largest investment in housing in Pierce County history. We introduced a local tax option to support housing investment that will return to the Council in March 2023.
After many years of missed attempts, we finally passed the behavioral health tax enabling the first local investments to help people in crisis. We created the Opioid Task Force and sued pharmaceutical companies and distributors to repair the damage they created. Settlement funding is now beginning to roll in.
We adopted the first update to regulations protecting our shorelines since the 70s and added additional protections for critical habitat. We acquired hundreds of acres of rural working and wild lands. We passed a bold Climate and Sustainability Plan calling for a 45% decrease in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030.
We created Pierce County’s first early childhood programs, becoming leaders of a national movement known as Counties for Kids, and created a Birth to 25 commission for young people.
In the wake of the pandemic, we increased local public health funding by over 50%. We delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ve made significant investments in broadband and sewer/water infrastructure and began reimagining transportation investments to make roads safer for everyone.
Toward the end of my term, I started a project that I never found time to finish after things got busy. Originally conceived as a list of incomplete work, it evolved into a broader examination of the problems we face and possible solutions. Over the next several weeks, I’ll have more on those subjects.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve. While it’s time for me to step away and support the next generation of leaders, I hope to continue putting the knowledge and experience I’ve gained to good use.