The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Council member candidates, a voice for the Pullman community

League of Women Voters forum for the Pullman City Council Candidates
From left to right: Holly Greystone, Eric Fejeran, Pat Wright and CJ Robert in city council panel, Oct. 12, in Pullman, Wash.

The League of Women Voters of Pullman hosted a voter forum to hear from Pullman City Council Candidates at Neill Public Library on Thursday. 

City council candidates, members of the community and the league gathered for a question and answer session that gave community members a chance to ask the candidates questions relating to their outlook on Pullman and their plans as prospective council members.

Present at the meeting were Ward 3 candidates, CJ Robert and Pat Wright, a current Ward 3 city council member. Ward 3 council members represent people within a large portion of southeastern Pullman, all the way out to the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.  Also present were the At Large Candidates Eric Fejeran and Holly Greystone. 

Ward one candidates Dan Maher and Ann Parks were supposed to attend the forum, however Maher informed officials he is no longer running, but did not formally withdraw from the race so his name will still be on the ballot, and Parks was out with an unexpected medical issue, Deborah Olson, League of Women Voters member, said.

League of Women Voters of Pullman is a nonpartisan political organization that prioritizes active engagement of citizens in government, and influences public policy within the community. They hosted this event in preparation for the primary election on Nov. 7. 

Olson moderated the session and began by asking candidates what they see their job would be as a city council member. 

As a city council member, they should be the channel between the community and city government, Robert said. She hopes to bridge the gap between these two groups and be a loud voice for the community, whether that be by utilizing AI to help out in local government, or advocating for Pullman citizens’ wants and needs, Robert said.

“When I say stuff will get done, you can guarantee I’m going to put 150% into it,” Robert said. 

As a council member for the last 15 years, Wright knows how the city operates and how important their role is in making and following through with policy, she said. Often voters do not understand that the council is bound by specific regulations of what they can and cannot do by the state and federal government, so she aims to work through that bureaucracy with the rest of the council members to be the best representation for community members, Wright said. 

Council members’ job is to be a voice for the community, plain and simple, Fejeran said.

Greystone plans to be a big voice for the community as their job as council members is to push their own agenda, but to also listen to the community’s wants and needs for their city, she said.

“Our job is to listen to you, and work for you, and be a good steward of both the information and the funding that comes into our systems,” Greystone said. 

Holly Greystone addresses city members during city council candidate panel, Oct. 12, in Pullman, Wash.

Olson asked candidates what they think is the biggest issue Pullman is currently facing. 

The most obvious problem right now is the Project Downtown plan and the infrastructure issues along Main Street, Wright said. Fejeran said he agreed with Wright, but is also worried about WSU enrollment and what Pullman is going to look like after the Pac-12 crisis. Robert agreed with Wright about Project Downtown, but the overarching issue is the downtown master plan, and continuing to look for grant money to support these projects, she said.

Long-term, the biggest issue is the lack of affordable and accessible housing, food, transportation and overall finding the corporate funding to support the facilitation of these issues, Greystone said. 

When Olson asked what initiatives or strategies the candidates have to enhance the growth, vibrancy and overall development of Pullman, candidates Greystone, Robert and Wright said they are pushing for a bypass downtown that would hopefully help with the growth and development of downtown businesses. The bypass is the way to recover, recruit and retain businesses downtown, Wright said.

“All that noise, all that traffic that’s going through downtown, only 13% of those people actually stopping in [are] going into our businesses,” Greystone said. 

Fejeran holds bi-weekly shop talks with community members in order to connect and help them understand the long-term Downtown Pullman plan. Next week he is hosting a forum at Neill Public Library talking about rails-to-trails conservancy and Pullman trails, he said. 

Olson asked candidates what strategies they have for making and continuing to keep Pullman safe. 

As a previous dispatcher, Greystone believes in supporting the fire department, the EMT’s and the police department, as well as making sure there is an emergency plan in place, she said. When it comes to addressing and supporting mental health, it starts by building a community and leading by example, she said.

Robert echoed what Greystone said, building the community is one of her biggest strategies, and using technology like the Nextdoor app is one way to build the sense of trust back up between the neighbors and the town.

Wright suggests getting to know the local public safety agencies, reinforcing the positive side of policing and fire because in recent years the interest in working public safety jobs has declined. Fejeran agreed and wants to look for more funding to assist with mental health issues within the public safety departments.

Other questions asked during the forum included what strategies candidates have to get the city and WSU working together, what the city can do to improve lighting of streets and trails and how Pullman is working to bridge the gap between the town and local indigenous communities.

To wrap up the forum, Olson asked the candidates what they think makes Pullman special.

All four candidates were pretty much at a consensus; the people and the community are truly what makes Pullman special. 

“Rooting yourself with people who you can call family every week is what makes Pullman special to me,” Fejeran said. 

The debate ended with closing remarks from the four candidates. The League of Women Voters reminded the audience to register to vote before Oct. 30 and to make sure their ballots are postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 7 and put in a dropbox. 

CJ Robert (left) and Eric Fejeran (right) talking to a member of the public after city council candidate, Oct. 12, in Pullman, Wash.

This forum is the first of three hosted by the League of Women Voters at Neill Public Library. Next Wednesday they are hosting a Pullman Mayor candidate forum from 6:30–8 p.m. and the Pullman School Board Forum will be Oct. 20 from 6–7:30 p.m.  

The full recording of Thursday’s debate can be accessed on the League of Women Voters’ website. 

Eric Fejeran shakes the hand of a member of the public after pullman city council candidate panel, Oct. 12, in Pullman, Wash.
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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.