While I’m going out and knocking on some doors and waving signs over these last few weeks leading up to the election, the reality is that I cannot knock on every door and talk to every voter in Liberty Lake. I appreciate the opportunity given us by the Liberty Lake Gazette to provide another way for you to get to know me.
I’ve lived in Liberty Lake a little over 2 years now, although I began visiting 5 years ago when my daughter and her family moved here. I’m already an involved citizen, attending City Council and other meetings, I’m President of the Friends of the Liberty Lake Municipal Library, and I’m a Salary Commissioner for the city. So why am I running for council after such a short time here?
Why I Want To Be Your City Council Member
I’m running because I want to assure that Liberty Lake continues to be the quality city that it is now. I love Liberty Lake; it’s the nicest place I’ve ever lived. I love the friendliness of the people and the beauty of the city, with its parks and trails. I began attending City Council meetings a few months after moving here – it was where Pat Lutzenberger recruited me for the Friends of the Liberty Lake Municipal Library. I enjoy watching the process of city government and have spoken numerous times at council meetings. I’ve talked at length with several council members about issues and about being a council member. I applied to be appointed to the Salary Commission and was appointed to a two year term in January, 2019. After 4 months of intense work that included interviews with the mayor and council members, learning from each how they perceived their work and roles, I knew I wanted to be a part of city council. Shortly after we wrapped up our work on the Salary Commission, I registered with the Public Disclosure Commission and then filed to run for council in May.
Qualifications in Brief
While I have no elected public office experience, I have held leadership positions in a number of non-profit organizations, including two terms as President of the Richmond (IN) Civic Theatre Board. I’ve been a department head, and I served on the Budget Committee for Earlham College (Richmond, IN) which was responsible for a $50 million annual operating budget and oversight of a $400 million endowment fund. My background as a social worker gives me the skills and knowledge to pool resources and work as a team with anyone. I look at things from a holistic view – how do all the pieces fit together and impact the person/family/neighborhood/business/city? My two years as the elected Regional Representative to the Indiana State Board of Social Work taught me how to ask state legislators to support bills that would benefit the underserved people of Indiana. The Salary Commission is inactive until next year (and if elected, I will resign that position) but I learned a lot about City Council during our 4 intense months of work. I am the current President of the Friends of the Liberty Lake Municipal Library, and I am honored that after just one full year as a member, they trusted me to be their president. I’m also the Web master for the Friends Web page and manage the Friends Facebook page.
What Are The Issues?
There are a number of issues facing Liberty Lake: rapid growth, infrastructure needs (traffic!), public safety (how do we continue to be one of the safest cities in Washington as we grow), taxes (let’s face it, no one likes them), affordable housing, transparency in local government, how to get citizens more involved in local government.
Growth is a good thing – it means the city is thriving! That brings with it traffic and infrastructure concerns, though. How do we manage growth so it doesn’t outpace city resources and revenues? Much residential growth has been approved already and is being built to meet demand for housing, which is strong in the east Washington/north Idaho area. We can limit additional growth by not changing zoning when a developer wants to put in apartments where an RV park was approved. We can be prudent about the types of businesses we want to attract. We also must find creative ways to support and promote our existing businesses, especially the small, family owned businesses that are the life blood of our community. We can use social media and working with other organizations like Greater Spokane Incorporated to promote our city and our existing businesses while working to attract new businesses large and small.
Traffic and taxes are the two issues that seem to be at the forefront of Liberty Lakers’ concerns. With that in mind, we must diversify our revenue sources, especially sales tax. We’re blessed to have successful car and RV dealerships in Liberty Lake, but those sales are usually the first to drop during a downturn in the economy. We need to attract businesses like medical equipment suppliers that are resistant to recessions. There are several projects in the works to address the traffic issue, but we have to assure that we have adequate revenue to maintain current and future infrastructure. I’d keep the current 3% utilities tax that supports road maintenance. Utilities are a recession resistant industry so we can probably count on a steady revenue stream of $800-900,000 per year for maintenance, snow removal, street cleaning, etc. That tax was reduced from 6% a few years ago and I’d be open to looking at a future reduction if we can maintain the current level of revenue.
I believe we have to work together when it comes to state and federal funding for roads and bridges. Geographically, we’re in the east central part of the state, far from Olympia, surrounded by rural communities, and often forgotten by the statehouse. Communication is key, and one way to do that is by attending other city council and chamber of commerce meetings. We can also meet with our state legislators throughout the year. We can hold phone conversations and have lunch or dinner for more intimate, one on one conversations where we can discuss how to work together for our common good. We must get to know one another as people first. We’re all in this together. What affects Spokane and Spokane Valley also affects Liberty Lake. As we learn in social work, we’re stronger together than we are alone. And the squeaky wheel gets the grease! We can’t see one another as competitors for new business. We have to see ourselves as partners and pull one another up. East central Washington has so much to offer, and by working with city councils, chambers of commerce, businesses, non-profits and residents, we can continue to grow and thrive, and attract the federal and state dollars to improve our infrastructure as we have with the Harvard/Henry Road project.
We also need to maintain our high standards for public safety. It’s not easy to attract and keep police officers – you can ask my niece’s husband who is chief of the Madeira, OH police dept. Liberty Lake has a reputation for being a safe, family-friendly city and with growth, that means more strain on public safety resources. We’re also providing a resource officer in the new Selkirk Middle School and will provide one for the new high school when it comes online. These are good investments in our young people – not only is an officer there in case of trouble (and sadly, we learned not long ago that no community including ours is safe from school tragedy), but that daily contact with officers provides our young people with positive interactions that may help them stay on course in their lives and who knows, perhaps inspire them to become police officers themselves one day.
One of the Gazette’s questions was on transparency in local government, so I won’t repeat my response here. I’ll just say that anything we can do to increase transparency (such as recorded roll call voting) will encourage more citizen involvement in local government. I pledge to keep citizens informed so they know why I vote the way I do. Citizen involvement increases when citizens believe they can make a difference and when they see that their concerns are taken seriously.
What About My Opponent?
My opponent, Dan Dunne, is a good man who cares a lot about school issues and I believe he would make an excellent school board member. But he is an 8 year incumbent who still hasn’t earned the Certificate of Municipal Leadership, which requires just 30 hours of education through the Association of Washington Cities (AWC). I pledge to earn that certificate in my first two years on council. I want to learn as much as I can about being a city council member so I can better serve Liberty Lake residents. I have answered every citizen question posed by the Liberty Lake Gazette – my opponent has answered none to date. My opponent has the second worst attendance record of the current council members. I pledge to make attendance at meetings a top priority – as a citizen, I have missed just 5 meetings in the last 18 months. My opponent was one of two City Council members who didn’t take the time to answer the Salary Commission’s short questionnaire about his work as a council member. I pledge to respond to any questions posed by any commission or citizen.
I am independent, self-financing my campaign, and will be no one’s “yes” person. I will represent the people to the best of my ability and listen to your concerns. I want to serve you to the best of my ability while helping to lead the city of Liberty Lake.
Thank you for reading this far. If you’re interested, I’ve written about my very fun and fortunate life below. I’ve been lucky enough to do some cool things. It’s pretty long, so if this is where you want to stop reading, I understand! I would be humbled and honored to receive your vote on November 5th. I’d be happy to meet with you or talk on the phone, or answer questions via email. You can contact me at 765-977-3611 or email WoodruffForCouncil@gmail.com.
More Biography Than You Probably Want To Know
Here’s a little about me personally. I was born in Cincinnati, OH, one of 7 children (and yes, we had just one bathroom).My dad was a butcher and my mom stayed at home with all of us. We lived on the west side in Delhi Hills. I attended Catholic grade schools and after we moved out to “the country” about 25 miles east of Cincinnati, I attended Clermont Northeastern High School in Owensville, OH (public school), and graduated with honors as the valedictorian of my class. I spent a year at the University of Cincinnati studying math and secondary education, but dropped out to marry my high school sweetheart who had just graduated from high school. I worked as a computer operator and keypuncher back in the old room-sized Univac days. In the meantime, I had studied for my FCC First Class Radiotelephone License so I could work as a broadcast engineer. It wasn’t easy to break into that field since it was considered a “man’s job,” and I was only 19 years old to boot. My only experience was volunteering at my high school’s 10 watt radio station. But the feminist movement was blossoming, and one of its activists was on the Nick Clooney Show (yes, George’s dad) broadcast live on WCPO-TV. She asked why there were no female camera operators on the show and Nick had no answer. There was my opening! I wrote to Nick Clooney and gave him my background and told him I had tried applying to all the TV and radio stations and heard nothing. A few weeks later, I received a phone call from the chief engineer at WCPO and he offered me a job as his secretary. My husband was a full time college student so the offer of 5 cents more an hour and the chance to break into the business was too good to turn down. Six months later, I was hired as a summer relief engineer at WCPO and that turned into a permanent job, making me the first female TV engineer in Cincinnati. I was just shy of my 20th birthday. I also worked at WXIX-TV which is now a Fox station but was independent back then, and was the first female chief engineer of a radio station when my high school received a grant to upgrade its station, WCNE-FM, from 10 watts to 3000 watts.
While I loved working in TV and radio, the hours were varied with rotating shifts and rotating days off. I needed more stable hours so we could start our family. My husband was in graduate school by then. I found work as an isometric piping draftsperson with an industrial piping design company, which led to getting hired at the construction site of the Zimmer Nuclear Power Plant in Moscow, OH. I was one of two female field engineers and it was fun once again working in a male dominated profession – all the craft hardhats were men, and most of the green hats (engineering) were also. I had my own pipefitting and welding crew and worked with class A stainless steel instrumentation piping in the reactor building. I still have the “nuclear” belt buckle my crew made for me from scrap stainless steel pipe. That plant never went live as a nuke – instead it was converted to a coal fired plant after nearly a billion dollars and being 98% complete.
When my husband graduated, he went into the Army so we moved with our 2.5 year old daughter and cat Strohs to Ft. Bliss, TX in El Paso. During our 4 years there we had two more children, then were transferred to Ft. Stewart, GA (near Savannah) for two years. When my husband left the Army, we moved to Richmond, IN, where I lived for 31 years before moving to Liberty Lake. After 10 years as a stay at home mom, I went back to college, this time for social work. I attended Indiana University School of Social Work and earned an Associate of Human Services, Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees in three years, all with highest honors (4.0 GPA). I worked in community mental health for a few years, working with adults with serious mental illness as a case management team leader, then worked for Earlham College for the next 15.5 years, retiring from there at the end of 2013. While at Earlham, I held several positions: Program Coordinator and Field Study Director for the Human Development and Social Relations major; Director of Counseling Services; Human Resources Specialist; and finally, Director of Career Education. I also served two terms on the Budget Committee, and served two years as the Recording Clerk of the Faculty.
While at Earlham, I began teaching part time for the Indiana University School of Social Work, first at the branch in Richmond, IN (IU East) teaching BSW classes, primarily in social welfare policy. I transitioned to teaching online classes for the MSW Direct program so I could travel to visit the grandchildren that were being born – none of my children stayed in Indiana after finishing their education. I continue to teach for MSW Direct but will not teach if elected, so I can devote that time to serving the citizens of Liberty Lake. In 2016 I bought a house here in Liberty Lake and moved 6 months later, in July, 2017.
My husband and I went through a friendly and mutually agreed upon divorce in 2004 after 30+ years of marriage. This often happens with couples who marry right out of high school, who find that they have different interests and goals once the kids have grown and gone. We remain good friends and we visit one another (he and his wife live near Tampa, FL). I have a partner, Lora, and we’ve been together for 16 years. We also have a dog, Jesse James, who will be 13 years old a few days after the election. He’s a 13 lb. rat terrier mix that I adopted from the shelter when he was just shy of 7 years old. Adopting an older dog is the best and he is the best dog ever. My younger daughter, husband and their two sons live here in Liberty Lake; my other daughter, the oldest child, lives in Kailua, HI; and my son, his wife and my other 3 grandsons live in Amarillo, TX. I still have a brother and two sisters who live in the Cincinnati area, another sister who lives in Mars, PA, and my “little” brother who lives with his wife and son in Lakeland, FL. Both my parents have passed (my mom died just 3 weeks after we moved to Liberty Lake) and my older brother passed away a few years ago after a lengthy illness. I love all my family and I’m so glad that we have stayed close despite the differences in our ages (we range from 78 to 57) and how spread out geographically that we are.
Thanks for reading all this! I hope it helps you to know me a little better. I would be humbled and honored to receive your vote on November 5th. I’d be happy to meet with you or talk on the phone, or answer questions via email. You can contact me at 765-977-3611 or email WoodruffForCouncil@gmail.com.