City Council Voters’ Guide

Candidates discuss issues facing Pullman including ADA accessibility, infrastructure

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City Council Voters’ Guide

LUKE HUDSON, Evergreen reporter

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Ward 1

Ann Parks, Ward 1 incumbent, said she is running for re-election because she wants to continue being a good steward of the community and be involved in Pullman’s growth.

Some of the biggest issues the city faces are ADA accessible downtown parking, the handling of new developments and traffic, she said.

“That whole [development] process is rather not very clear to a lot of residents,” she said. “And so, I would like to work on making that more clear and transparent for everybody.” 

Parks said she wants to closely review the Comprehensive Plan and work with other city officials and constituents to determine what the best direction for the city is. She said she wants to understand the vision residents have for Pullman.

Some of the goals she said she had when she took office in 2016 were supporting the local library and downtown economic development. 

To achieve these goals, she said she has voted in favor of hiring an economic developer as a city staff member and spoken about the issue with councilmembers during goal-setting events. 

Parks said she serves on the United Way of Whitman County board, the Distinguished Young Women of Pullman board, and is a Neill Public Library board member. 

She said her main goal if reelected is to manage Pullman’s growth in a responsible way. 

“I think that’s my vision for Pullman, is to make it appealing and accessible to all,” she said.

Parks said her greatest weakness is she sometimes takes on too much and becomes overinvolved. She said her greatest strengths are her networking and ability to get people the help they need. 

Chris Johnson, Ward 1 challenger, said he is running for city council because he wants to improve the communication and transparency in city government. 

Some of the biggest issues the city faces are the accountability of elected officials, and that poor communication erodes the public trust in government, he said.  

“There’s another side of trust and what that is, is competency,” he said. “So not just character, but competence, you’re delivering results.”

Johnson said he wants to pass city council bylaws that clarify sections of council meetings that are open for public comment. He said he wants to address the three-minute limit for public comment because not many people go to council meetings. 

Johnson said his main goal if elected is to focus on creating a vibrant downtown. Transportation infrastructure such as sidewalks and roads, and communication projects such as wireless service and fiber optic cable.

“[I want] people-friendly parks and spaces, really an atmosphere that attracts jobs, you know, economic investment in the community and development,” he said. 

To achieve these goals, he said he wants to push the council to focus on a vision for the city. The council must decide what the priorities of Pullman are to move forward. 

Johnson said he is very involved in his church and teaches a 12-week program on self-reliance, and job training. He said he has also been a member of the Boy Scouts of America for 30 years. 

Johnson said his greatest weakness is that he needs to listen better. He said his greatest strengths are his broad experience in municipal government and familiarity with the law and city codes.

At-large

Eileen Macoll, at-large incumbent, said she is running for reelection because she wants to continue working on the Downtown Master Plan and the council is about halfway through the process.

Some of the biggest issues the city faces are sustaining the growth of industries in Pullman such as the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and keeping city objectives clear, she said. 

“[I will address these issues] by working with fellow council members to keep the path before us and to not get sidetracked on to other issues and just keep our eyes on the prize,” she said.

Macoll said she wants to create a sustainable and lively community with opportunities for people of all walks of life. She said she wants good healthcare and education for every citizen. 

Some of the goals she said she had when she took office in 2016 were learning the process of city government and how best to do her job when representing people. 

Macoll said she feels confident that when people bring concerns to her that she can help them grow. When the process is complicated, she said she works to make it simple for people. 

She said she serves on the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, the Palouse Basin Aquifer Committee and is chair of the Pullman Senior Center. 

Macoll said her main goal if reelected is to replace the downtown sidewalks so they are accessible for all people. 

“I am not afraid to speak up,” she said. “Especially for those who are unable to speak for themselves and sometimes that’s a challenge.”

Macoll said her greatest weakness is that she gets impatient. She said her greatest strengths are her courage and perseverance.

Francis Benjamin, at-large challenger, said he is running for city council because he wants to work more on the Pullman 2040 campaign and help define where the city wants to be by 2040.

Some of the biggest issues the city faces are transportation infrastructure and connectivity because so many people come and go every year for school, he said.

“We have some incredible people in this community,” he said, “with the students all the way through the retirees that have great ideas, but we need to be able to bring them together.”

Benjamin said he wants to make sure people work together collaboratively and better identify potential public and private partnerships. He said the transparency issue others have brought up is more of an issue of communication rather than transparency. 

“I don’t believe there are things that are purposely being hidden,” he said. “I think that the way things are getting communicated isn’t communicated very well.”

He said his main goal if elected is improving the connection between residents. He said collaboration is the only way to reach the best solution for everyone.  

He said he serves on the Pullman Community Council on Aging, the Palouse Knowledge Corridor Board of directors and is very active in the WSU community.

“You’re never going to please everybody,” he said. “So what you need to do is you need to be able to have people connected in enough that they’re able to see the process understanding what’s going on.”

Benjamin said his greatest weakness is that he has a hard time saying “no.” He said his greatest strength is his willingness to work with everyone.

Uncontested elections

Councilmembers Nathan Weller and Pat Wright are running unopposed to represent Ward 2 and Ward 3, respectively.

Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson is running unopposed for his last term as mayor, according to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.