Climate Change   I believe that the most pressing problems today –  dealing with climate change and protecting our environment – cannot be postponed.  All other issues, and there are many facing our town, are interconnected to this basic challenge.  Issues like pressures for growth, lack of affordable housing, people living unhoused, jobs, clean air and water are impacted.

I am a retired teacher and librarian, I have lived here over twenty years, I am a mother of three and grandmother of two. I care about the future of Anacortes, of our children and our planet. More can and needs to be done starting right here. The city needs to involve all of us in the solution.

Although the crisis seems overwhelming, it is a time of terrific opportunity.  As a council member I will promote an Anacortes Climate Change Action Plan. Every decision the city makes should consider how it affects energy usage, impact to the environment, and liveability of our city.

We can make incentives for energy efficiency, smaller homes and better  transportation choices. We can promote green jobs, solar energy and low impact development.  We can hire professionals with experience and expertise.  We can use successful plans from places such as in Aspen Colorado as models.  We can support legislation for fee and dividend incentives to reduce use of fossil fuels.  We can work with business and neighborhoods to prepare and make the world a better place.

Anacortes has taken some steps in the right direction and I applaud us for that.  We are committing to purchasing more green energy, we have installed solar panels on the library, we have hired a storm water manager who was badly needed.  The city is concerned with affordable housing but allowing five story structure in an existing neighborhood without listening to the concerns of citizens is not the answer.

Planting trees is the most effective measure to combat global warming. We have an ordinance for a Street Tree Committee but it is not being implemented.  We have landscape plans that are not enforced. We need these things to combat the rising heat problems where there is no relief from concrete. We can improve our streets with better surfaces, more pathways, bike trails and greenery.

Efficiency and Expertise  I would advocate for a city staff position for a resource manager with environmental background. This person would make sure all developments follow environmental protection laws, would coordinate solutions to the issue of habitat loss and define requirements for energy-efficient building. We need to reduce plastics, have effective recycling, maintain a robust tree planting program and plan for impacts of climate change.

We can achieve better coordination with regional agencies and non-profits to solve problems like homelessness and transportation.  Our staff should be expected to engage in continuous learning about most efficient and sustainable processes.  Anacortes should be a leader in sustainability.

Local business is good for the environment. As a board member for Anacortes Food Coop I have learned a lot about the challenges of running a small business .  It is so important for the city to be supportive of local businesses. We must keep a close relationship with other county, city, and federal representatives who make laws that affect businesses.

Address impacts of development.  There is a lot of pressure for Anacortes to grow rapidly and many new houses are large and expensive.  We need to make sure Anacortes holds a place for working class families to live and not be priced out.  We must respect existing neighborhoods when increasing density so that homeowners are least impacted.  Decisions should be made that improve connectivity to schools, shopping, parks and transportation.

Zoning needs to be carefully examined.  We must eliminate code language that has been too open to interpretation so that rules can be applied consistently. We need to have a process where we actually act on citizens’ concerns about impact to the character of their neighborhood, as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.  I will encourage creative solutions to provide affordable housing, such as cottage homes, using a land trust, well-made town homes and other designs. I will make sure that such density also includes planning for traffic issues and sufficient parks.   I would consider stronger requirements for sustainable building practices and low-impact development.

We need a new perspective.  I am not beholden to any industries, special interests or developers and I bring an outside viewpoint.  I am determined to reach out to you citizens, to respect and applaud every time you speak up at a meeting, or do research, or send a comment.  You  should be honored and not considered a hindrance that slows progress.  You are most important.

So this Nov 2 you have a choice.  You can vote to continue the status quo, or you can vote for me, a person who stands up for the environment, who brings diversity to the council and who will listen to you.

Thank you for thinking about these important issues and for voting for me, Sara Holahan