Candidates Line Roy and Brian Hess will face off in the Nov. 2 general election for the Position No. 5 seat on the Yelm City Council.
Both candidates detailed their vision for Yelm as they looked toward the general election.
“I’m really proud to call Yelm home,” said Roy, who is the executive director of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce. “I want to continue to say that. I think my vision for Yelm over the next five, 10 years, is (for it) to continue being a family-friendly, fun place to be. We’re a city that loves to invite tourists. I definitely want to see it grow sustainably and continue to have that small-town feel with all of the amenities that a large city offers.”
Hess said his vision is for Yelm to be a place where all of its citizens have a say in what the city becomes.
“I have to be open to everybody that I represent — those who voted for me and those who did not,” he said. “And it has to be our vision.”
Hess said he would like to see the addition of a downtown-corridor theme as well as investments in the agricultural and technology industries in the city.
Roy said the city has already done agood work in planning for the future, but she would work with community partners to continue the city’s efforts to ensure there’s affordable housing, that the transportation plan is workable and that the infrastructure for future growth is in place.
Hess said the population growth expected for Yelm over the next 24 years will be a “good thing” for the city, but said Yelm needs to be more than a “drive-by, sleeping community.” That can be accomplished with the creation of new businesses and jobs so the tax burden does not solely fall on the residents of Yelm.
Roy detailed challenges the city would face in the coming years, which included traffic congestion, access to affordable housing and infrastructure upgrades for utilities.
She said the 2020-22 transportation plan will guide the city through the next 20 years as long as the city is diligent in planning for future growth. Affordable housing will come as the city grows, she said, adding that “growth pays for growth.” She said an increase of people will pave the way to pay for new residents of all income levels. Roy also said the city needs forward-thinking officials and employees to upgrade its facilities for the future.
Hess said the largest challenge Yelm will face in the coming years is infrastructure. He said the city has thought too small in its planning efforts, and will need to do more forward-thinking as it plans for the future.
Roy said her experience in managing “every aspect” of the chamber’s budget will be beneficial for the city, as the chamber makes “magic happen with very small budgets.”
During his 25-year career in the military, Hess said he is used to managing multi-million dollar budgets and using taxpayer money frugally. Instead of a more business-minded budgetary approach, which seeks a monetary return on investment, he said his approach to city budgeting requires a return on investment in terms of the services provided and what value is added to the community at large.
Roy said responsible spending is a must. She said encouraging others to shop local is paramount to the economy’s progress, as is bringing in more small businesses.
Hess agreed that more businesses would be beneficial, but added that if the city provides too many tax breaks for them, the tax burden would unfairly be placed on Yelm’s residents if tax-incentivized businesses fail.
Roy said Yelm’s current water rates are in line with other municipalities, while Hess said the city’s water fees may increase due to upcoming improvements to the water reclamation facility made necessary through the failure of previous administrations to keep the facility up to date. He added water rates should decrease for city residents when upgrades are paid for.
Hess said he thinks there needs to be more involvement from the people of Yelm and said the city needs to tailor its plans to the wishes of its residents. He mentioned the possible introduction of recreational initiatives and more collaboration with the Nisqually Indian Tribe as things he’d like to see.
Roy also put the impetus of Yelm’s future success on the will of the people.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to hopefully get to be a part of the planning and creating of the space that we have and I am hopeful to get that opportunity,” she said.