Submitted by John Perry.
When I decided to “toss my name into the ring” for Steilacoom town council I had not prepared a position paper. Many residents however, have been reaching out and want to know what is important to me. I am happy to say that I am running for Town Council because in the most basic terms, I want to ensure that Steilacoom maintains its charm. It may not seem like a daunting task because Steilacoom is already quite remarkable. We have one of the best school systems in Washington, the town government is fiscally responsible and has been in the positive for close to two decades. Additionally, town vistas are split between a sunset over the sound or a forested escape near the marsh.
I intend to preserve these qualities. My background differs a bit from the current council members and even my opponents, which will serve to reinvigorate the town’s vision. In this instant, of the three council positions that are open for election, the sitting member I am competing with has nearly 20 years on the council. The other two members, Peter Franklin and Roger Neal (who have already won this election because they ran unopposed) each have eight years on the council and were just granted four more. This town, however, has really transformed into a multi-generational community. This differs from the 1960’s-1970’s, for example, when it was mostly occupied by younger military families during the Vietnam era. I acknowledge this because I happened to discover Steilacoom as a traveling military family. Many families from that era stayed in Steilacoom, and their offspring are here as well.
On my block alone, there are four families whose parents, grandparents and children all live within walking distance (my family included). Sometimes on the same block; they are definitely in the same town. That jumps out to me and paints a picture of the varying age groups the town council must represent. The town council consequently is currently made up of a group of individuals whose age ranges from the early seventies to mid-eighties. I can help bridge the gap that exists currently as there is no council representation from the generation that makes up the average age of 40, reflected in the most recent census.
The Steilacoom 2015 comprehensive land plan is a document that was created with the intent to be the path for Steilacoom’s growth into 2035. That plan is up for review and amendment in 2023 and must be approved by the town council. One of the key data points in the plan is that Steilacoom is expected to grow.
Growth is inevitable; however, it must be managed responsibly in order to strike a balance between acceptable construction practices within the limits of the town’s approved municipal ordinances. It must also preserve the natural forested qualities that Steilacoom boasts. For example, instead of clear-cutting lots, preserve an agreed upon number of mature trees. Instances when that’s not possible, plant native trees/ shrubs to give homes natural barriers and support the local wildlife.
According to the comprehensive plan, Steilacoom is roughly 1400 acres large. In 2015, only 6% of land was available for development which is roughly 84 acres. Additionally, the town’s goal at that time was to create 3,348 more homes by 2035. Through simple math, without regard to any-one homes square footage, this suggests we put an average of 40 homes per acre in Steilacoom. Not only is that impossible, but it also shows that this section of the plan is not accurate and should not be used to validate decisions surrounding growth.
The traffic circle project is a current example of the town’s willingness to improve the local infrastructure and adapt to growth. However, during the design and review period, the town ended up paying roughly an additional $65,000 dollars because of a rumored decision enforced by Pierce County officials, at the convenience of Anderson Islands requested second presentation of the plan. They were invited to the first presentation! The result was updated designs and additional fees. Fees that came out of Steilacoom’s residents’ pockets which in my opinion should have been either Pierce county or Anderson Island’s responsibility. The town council voted whether Steilacoom should have to pay or Pierce County, or even Anderson Island. Four of the five representatives voted that Steilacoom should pay; only Pete Franklin agreed that it was not our responsibility and that Steilacoom residents should not have to shoulder this bill.
In conclusion, my background in biology, environmental management, and my current position in the Department of Natural Resources as a project manager for states facilities and energy efficiency, are added value to the types of decisions which will be brought forward to the future council. These are qualities and experiences that set me apart from my competitors. Qualities that are important, but secondary to the importance of maintaining open communication with Steilacoom’s citizens for their input.
I welcome questions and comments from the public so feel free to reach out. My email address is email@example.com and you can learn more on my webpage www.steilacoomjohn.com. I am happy to talk over a cup of coffee and I will be out in the neighborhoods knocking on doors and meeting everyone. I will also have a booth weekly at the Steilacoom Farmer’s Market.
Thank you for writing this. We needed you a few years ago when we tried to save Norberg Estates- 5.3 acres of trees which is now Norberg Heights on Stevens St where 15 homes are being built.
Thank you for running for town council.
when is the election? where can we see who else is running and how do we vote?
Ann Genn says
Gail, Here’s the link for all the candidates running for office in Pierce County. The election is 8/3/2021. https://voter.votewa.gov/CandidateList.aspx?e=870&c=27
John Perry says
Hi Gail, thank you for your support! I am excited for the opportunity to be a part of Steilacoom’s future. My overall goal is to help Steilacoom maintain the charm that makes it a wonderful place for us to call home. As Ann Genn says, there are two elections, the Primary is August 3 and the General is The first week in November.
Helen Kirkwood says
John, you are our guy. Please keep your messages in front of the Steilacoom residents. You definitely have qualifications that will enhance the quality of life in this town. You are so right about rethinking some things with regard to growth and land use. Thank you for being willing to take this on.
John Perry says
Hello Helen, thank you for your support! As a fellow beekeeper, I understand the importance of Steilacoom’s environment and what it means to the community! I look forward to speaking with you and Ken again soon.
Ron Metternich says
I have not seen the infrastructure plan and am curious to your thoughts on establishing a safe shoulder to bike and run on between Sunnyside Park and Chambers Bay Creek.?
David Hall says
Hear, hear! That’s a project which is long overdue!
John Perry says
Hello Ron. You are not alone in your passion for pedestrian and bicycle traffic through town. I was just speaking with a fellow resident at the Farmer’s market about this exact concern. I know that the re-zoning of the Mill is a current hot topic in the planning Commission and Town Council. My advice right now is to contact the council and make your voice heard! While there is not an approved plan just yet, we must let the council know that the residents input counts!!
Ricardo Adrian Guzman says
While we moved to Steilacoom from Bellevue some five years ago as homeowners right by town, our family appreciates all our village has to offer and the maintainance of city admin attempts. However, with its growth, various issues and concerns impacted our lives, big noise levels, increased traffic that appears to be not Steilacoom citizens, constant speeding and huge trucks that daily go thru Rainer street 5-10 a day!! I see them all from my home office. And over the last few years, while I have written the town fathers. NO ONE has ever replied to my emails. Other citizens have said the same. And while have attended city meetings, and people do speak out– agendas seemed to already be set.
And you are correct, in that we as a community is as you stated– ‘however, (Steilacoom) has really transformed into a multi-generational community.’ I am not sure this demographic is always recognized.
Our family has owned and still owns properties here and been a part of Steilacoom since the 1960’s, my gal grew up here as her father was military but she tells me all has changed and not for the better necessarily. Still, we believe in our community and want to do our part. For us, this means we are supporting and voting for you.
John Perry says
Thank you for your support! First, I must say that you are not alone my friend. Your family’s generational history and military background in Steilacoom is shared and very much a part of Steilacoom’s story and embedded in the community!
It seems that you feel like your voice has been shuttered when it comes to airing your community concerns to the Town Council and administration. Sadly, there are others in this town that have said the exact same thing to me. You bring up some valid points. Please allow me to elaborate:
It is not a secret that the paper mill is in the planning process currently for re-zoning. The old Butler property is a parcel of land on Union that was recently sold. I believe the current plan for the project is to develop 16 new homes. The list goes on. In short, this is absolutely going to increase traffic in Steilacoom. Initially that will be construction traffic and hold-ups, immediately followed by residential and commuter. Additionally, large vehicle traffic will still exist. It is not impossible for the Town Council to establish dedicated semi (or oversized vehicle) traffic routes with applicable signage in town. As a matter of fact, it would be fool-hearted not to! Many small towns have these dedicated truck routes, specifically to keep them out of residential neighborhoods… like Rainier Street.
The other issue you mentioned regarding Council Members having pre-determined decisions regardless/ or without town input is bothersome. The immediate remedy is communication. For instance, how does one report a concern, compliment or comment to the town if the website created for this is broken?
Members of Cormorant, Gove, 1st street, and residents on Union are well aware that speeding occurs in town. They have told me the times, the vehicles, and in some cases the clothing of the individuals. When those residents call the Steilacoom Emergency Services, call the town council members or others in the administration and do not see action they become frustrated and feel like they have no representation.
Forgive me for rambling Ricardo, but allow me to say, YES, you matter! Just as all residents of Steilacoom matter.
Please send me an email because I would like to meet with you and hear more. One voice becomes two, then three and so on. Thank you again for your time and your support.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Neely Dawn Sipes-May says
You are definitely what Steilacoom needs..although we all understand that growth and change are inevitable,there must be a balance,I believe we are at the very top and close to the tipping point of no return.There are so many reasons to slow it down”you can’t build more land!and it has always felt like a competition to destroy all the open spaces that remain to fill as many “McMansions”they can sqeeze on to a space(that frankly does not seem to fit the land use laws)the ripple down impacts are showing.I really appreciate your point of view and the importance you see in the mature trees/wildlife sanctuaries with balance everyone and everything is better.Keep up the good work and good luck..
John Perry says
Thanks for introducing me to your family and talking with my wife and I at the market. We are very like minded individuals and it’s refreshing to see that your son Nate is so involved in the outdoors just like you and your husband.
Richardo Dela Cabeza says
It is good to see someone younger running. Steilacoom has long been a conservative, anti-evironmental white, Christian, elderly male-dominated republican, town that is nonprogressive. It continues to struggle to hold on to the past and preserve a buy gone era. Recently we saw that playout when the former mayor, and town administrator, attempted to secretly contract to kill a pair of nesting beavers in the Farrells Marsh so the dam at the outflow could be destroyed. The destruction of that dam, would have destroyed a recovering wetland and wildlife preserve. Most of the town council members were indifferent and ignorant, kissed the mayor’s ring, and looked the other way. Have you walked the pristine trails of the marsh more than once? What is your position on preserving the Marsh?
I learned in the military the commander sets the standard. As a former member of the military sworn to uphold the constitution, I was shocked to witness the damage that President Trump had done across the spectrum of his presidency. He surrounded himself with incompetent associates many of who were criminally indicted. He was accused of rape, draft-dodging, infidelity, bullying, white supremacy, nepotism, graft, corruption, racism, sexism, patriarchy, xenophobia, fascism, collusion with our enemies, obstruction of justice, public vulgarity, destruction of the environment, and now possibly tax evasion.
I would like to know who you voted for in the last two presidential elections.
Greg Alderete says
I am interested in getting to know the candidates beyond political platitudes and doublespeak. Local politicians often rise to higher elected offices so it is important to know their baseline beliefs. I have a few questions that will give me and perhaps others a better idea of who you are and what you stand for.
1. What is your position on a woman’s right to choose?
2. Did you support or oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
3. If the candidates today were Lincoln and Trump who would you vote for?
4. Should all Americans be entitled to health care?
5. What single decision do you believe would improve our education system?
6. Were the events of 6 January at the US Capitol justified?
7. Are humans contributing to climate change?
8. Are you satisfied with local efforts to recycle?
9. What single activity would you support to improve the quality of life for our teens?
10. Do all lives matter or just black lives?